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William H. Helfand Collection: Finding Aid
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Collection Overview
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The William H. Helfand Collection contains more than 7,000 European and American prints and ephemera relating to health professions including medical, dental, and mental wellness. The materials date from the 1490s to the early 21st century and contain many social and political cartoons that satirize health practices and practitioners. Noted illustrators represented include French artists Honore Daumier, Gustave Dore, J. J. Grandville, and Emile Vernier; British caricaturists Thomas Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, and James Gillray; and the American cartoonist Thomas Nast.
William Helfand (1926-2018) was a scholar of the histories of medicine, pharmacy and art, and collector of prints and ephemera related to all three. He started his career working in his father's pharmacy about the same time he started collecting images, as he says, "of things medical." Unable to afford paintings, he bought prints, and then also began buying trade cards, posters, sheet music, bookplates, and any other paper bearing medical text and images. When he joined the multinational pharmaceuticals firm Merck & Company, his collecting continued. In his tenure at Merck he rose to senior vice president of international operations and spent a few years living in Paris, a desirable location for a young print collector.
approximately 7,100 items
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.