The Wellcome Library in London is one of the world’s major resources for the study of medical history. They offer a growing collection of material relating to contemporary medicine and biomedical science in society.

The Wellcome Library is currently developing a world-class online resource for the history of medicine by digitising a substantial proportion of its holdings and making the content freely available on the web.

The Library’s digitisation programme includes:

  • cover-to-cover books
  • video and audio
  • entire archive collections and manuscripts
  • paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, ephemera and more.

The Library was founded on the collections of Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) and is best known for its medical materials. However, the Library also holds important Asian collections especially pertaining to medicine, religious practices, divination and magic, including Malay, Batak and Javanese manuscripts (described in Ricklefs & Voorhoeve 1982).

Wellcome Images, another digitisation initiative of the Wellcome Library, makes available a wealth of images, including images from Malay manuscripts on magic, photographs of Sarawak and Penang, watercolour drawings of Singapore and Johor, and a very rare a copy of an early Malay newspaper published in Singapore in 1877, of which no other copies are known to survive anywhere else in the world: Peridaran al-Shams wa-al-Qamar, ‘The revolution of the sun and the moon’.  

Annabel Teh Gallop had a closer look at this rare item and published an article on the Rare Malay newspaper at the Wellcome Library on the Asian & African Studies Blog of the British Library, explaining the historical context of this newspaper and providing the details of publications for further reading on that topic.