Medical data, historical maps online

The National Institutes of Health has opened the world's largest database of published medical information to the public for the first time for no fee and without registration requirements. Medline features a National Library of Medicine database of more than 8.8 million references to articles published in 3 800 medical journals. Medline contains references and abstracts for articles related to medicine nursing dentistry veterinary medicine and health care systems.

Until recently users had to pay a fee to access the database. But NLM officials now have geared the site toward consumers as well as the medical community.

Point your browser to to access a well-organized informative World Wide Web site packed with health information. The icon denoting the search option for Medline appears at the top of the Table of Contents page. This is a good place to start for those users that have a focused search topic in mind.

Click on "free Medline" to search in a variety of ways for health information that has been published in the medical journals contained in the database. Users can search for information about a specific disease or treatment or use the Web site to locate a physician who specializes in the treatment of specific ailments. Users also have turned to Medline to locate clinical trials for drugs that treat their specific diseases.

Users with a broad topic or query can click on "search NLM site" to search all the library's servers or you can point your cursor to "health information" for categories of information such as links to all the consumer health information published by various government agencies lists of health organizations and research resources and health hotlines for users who want to speak to a human.

The site also offers access to NLM publications its latest news and updates and general information about the library and NIH. Click on "site map" for a complete list of the site's contents.

Mapping History

Thanks to a donation of software from a California company the Library of Congress is making available via the Internet detailed American panoramic maps from its collections. Go to and click on "panoramic maps" to take a peek at American cities of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Panoramic maps also known as bird's-eye view maps portray the cities and towns as if viewed from above at an oblique angle.

LizardTech a Santa Fe N.M. company that was a spinoff from the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory donated the file-compression technology that reduces the size of the massive map files by more than 20 times and makes the map views possible.

Users can view the entire image of the map or zoom in for greater detail. Click on "geographic location" to view the sampling of maps that have been scanned to date. Maps scanned so far include cities in Alabama Arizona Arkansas California and New Mexico from 1847 through 1909. Take a look at San Francisco in the late 1800s when it was a mere shell of what it is today. Many of the maps are more like detailed photographs with actual scenes from daily life such as boats and ships either docking or leaving various port cities.

The library's Geography and Map Division contains 4.5 million maps and 60 000 atlases making the collection the largest in the world.


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