Thursday, February 12, 2015

Now Available! Recommended Practices for Enabling Access to Manuscript and Archival Collections Containing Health Information about Individuals

Medical Heritage Library collaborators the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions [] and the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine [] are pleased to announce the distribution of their jointly authored recommended practices to enable access to manuscript and archival collections containing health information about individuals [available here under "Documentation."] These recommendations are intended to alleviate many of the concerns repositories have related to collecting and preserving health services records, especially those repositories that are not affiliated with hospitals or medical schools.

The recommendations are presented in four categories: 1) Determining an Institution’s Status and Policy Needs; 2) Implementing Policy and Fostering Process Transparency; 3) Communicating the Nature of Restrictions; and 4) Describing Records to Best Enable Discovery and Access. Those who care for and provide access to records containing health information about individuals are invited to test the recommendations and provide feedback on their utility; those who use such records in their research are equally invited to comment on their scope.

Researchers who have used or are seeking access to primary sources containing health information about individuals are encouraged to share their experiences and difficulties accessing health services records. Visit the MHL’s researcher access survey site [] and contribute to our efforts to improve access to these important records.

For more information, please contact the Medical Heritage Library at

This work was made possible through the generous funding of the Mellon Foundation through the Council for Library and Information Resources’ Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives [] program (2012: Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections []).

Thank you!
-Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook (on behalf of Emily Gustainis and Phoebe Evans Letocha)
Processing Assistant, Center for the History of Medicine and
Project Coordinator, Medical Heritage Library (

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