Sue Young Histories

From Hahnemann's hand to your computer screen: building a digital homeopathy collection

January 25, 2011

With thanks to Pubmed Lisa A Mix and Kathleen Cameron J Med Libr Assoc. 2011 January; 99(1): 51–56.

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016660/?tool=pubmed The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Library holds the unique manuscript of the sixth edition of Samuel Hahnemann’s Organon der Heilkunst,_the primary text of homeopathy. The manuscript volume is Hahnemann’s own copy of the fifth edition of the _Organon with his notes for the sixth edition, handwritten throughout the volume.

There is a high level of interest in the _Organon _manuscript, particularly among homeopaths. This led to the decision to present a digital surrogate on the web to make it accessible to a wider audience. Digitizing Hahnemann’s manuscript and determining the best method of presentation on the web posed several challenges. Lessons learned in the course of this project will inform future digital projects.

see also Taubman Medical Library Homeopathy Collection

This article discusses the historical significance of the sixth edition of Hahnemann’s Organon, its context in UCSF’s homeopathy collections, and the specifics of developing the online homeopathy collection.

The unique manuscript of the sixth edition of Samuel Hahnemann’s Organon der Heilkunst (Organon of the Medical Art) is a gem in the Archives & Special Collections of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Library.

The library holds Hahnemann’s own copy of the fifth edition of the Organon (the last edition published in Hahnemann’s lifetime), in which he wrote notes and made revisions for the sixth edition (first published almost eighty years after Hahnemann’s death). Hahnemann’s notes are written in the margins and on facing pages in the fifth edition, with longer notes on paper interleaved throughout the volume. The manuscript volume is part of the library’s extensive collection of historic works in homeopathy.

Because the sixth edition of the Organon presented significant changes to homeopathic practice and because it is among Hahnemann’s final professional writings, homeopaths from all over the world come to San Francisco to study the manuscript volume.

This avid user group with a high level of interest made the Organon manuscript a strong candidate for digitization and presentation on the web. The digital Organon forms the cornerstone of an online collection, launched in early 2009, of significant works in the history of homeopathy [http://www.library.ucsf.edu/collections/homeopathy/](http://www.library.ucsf.edu/collections/homeopathy/).

The online collection also includes a handwritten transcript of Hahnemann’s text and revisions used by Dr. Richard Haehl as the basis for the published German sixth edition (1921, Leipzig), as well as homeopathy pamphlets.

Digitizing Hahnemann’s manuscript and determining the best method of presentation on the web posed several challenges. Lessons learned in the course of this project have better equipped library staff to undertake future digitization projects with rare and unique materials.

This article discusses the historical significance of the sixth edition of Hahnemann’s Organon, its context in UCSF’s homeopathy collections, and the specifics of developing the online homeopathy collection. continue reading: