Special Collections

Need to schedule an appointment?

Dawne Lucas
Dawne Lucas, MA, MLS
Special Collections Librarian

Visit HSL Special Collections in the Wilcox Reading Room, located on the 5th floor of the Health Sciences Library!

Special Collections at the Health Sciences Library (HSL) includes materials such as:

  • printed works (books, pamphlets, journals, broadsides, posters, and ephemera)
  • manuscripts
  • letters
  • photographs
  • student notebooks
  • medical illustrations
  • medical instruments
  • pharmacy artifacts


These materials range in date from the 1500s to the present day, encompassing the history of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, public health, and the allied medical sciences. The history of the health sciences in North Carolina is strongly represented.


A few noteworthy items among many are:


The mission of Special Collections at the HSL is to provide a secure and controlled environment for materials of historic value, fragile condition, or those requiring special treatment, and to provide research services and related programming in the history of the health sciences, such as exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and other events.

HSL on Tumblr

Greetings, Tumblr followers!  I just got back from attending a wedding, and I’m still thinking about all the delicious food I ate during the celebration!  Thankfully, it wasn’t a Regency era banquet, or I might still be napping from food overload!

Regency era banquets were extremely elaborate, thanks to the expensive tastes of England’s Prince Regent.  Celebrity chefs of the time such as Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) came up with imaginative and decadent dining experiences for the monarch, and featured an almost endless supply of beautiful foods.  In fact, the Regent’s Banquet of 1817 (catered, of course, by Carême himself) had no less than 120 separate dishes (see the full menu here), including several decadent cakes much like those pictured above.

However, not everyone was as smitten with these sensational suppers as the prince regent was.  John Ayrton, author of A Treatise on Diet (1826, available in the UNC HSL Special Collections), states that this “…almost indefinite succession of incompatible dishes” caused great “ mischief” to the stomach.  In A Treatise on Diet, Ayrton decries the “…overloading of the stomach…” with “…stewed beef, …cotelettes a la supreme, … Westphalia ham” and various elaborate (and non-nutritious) pastries.  To Ayrton, these multi-course meals were over-taxing to the digestive system, the contents of the dining room as indigestible and infamous as the contents of “Macbeth’s cauldron” (Ayrton, 128).

I have to disagree with Ayrton’s argument, despite my love for his sassy Macbeth quip….I really want to attend a party that has a giant cake shaped like a building!

*images of all those amazing cakes taken from Le patissier royal parisien, ou, Traité élémentaire et pratique de la patisserie ancienne et moderne (Carême), available for free here*