DECEMBER 23rd 1886
The foundation of the Medical Library of Saint-Louis Hospital (Paris)

Société française d'histoire de la dermatologie, Musée de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris

On thursday 23rd 1886, Lailler, Vidal, Besnier, Fournier, Hallopeau, Quinquaud, dermatologists-heads of medical departments in Saint-Louis hospital, Péan and Ledentu, surgeons, Porak, obstetrician, Lutz, head of the hospital pharmacy and Feulard assistant in Fournier's department, met Grandry, Director of the hospital, to create a medical library1. Five days later, the status being countersigned by Peyron, Director of the Assistance publique and Barbier, General Secretary, the library was placed under the patronage of the Assistance publique.

Feulard2 was officially appointed in 18903 as the officer of the new library he administered until his tragic death mai 4th 1897 in the burning of the Charity Bazar. The library was then -and still is- named after him, Henri-Feulard Library4.


The founding circumstances

The creation of the medical library of Saint-Louis Hospital was environned by the installation of medical libraries in the Paris Hospitals5. Founded by the Internes des Hôpitaux de Paris, the first hospital library was set in 1864 in Bicêtre Hospital (Paris suburban area). The number of hospital libraries increased then rapidly up to 15 in 1878.

Considering these creations, the heads of departments in Saint-Louis Hospital, the Director of the Assistance publique and Paris City Council represented by Bourneville6 prepared from 1877 a project for the creation of a new library in Saint-Louis.

On august 6th 1881 was adopted a project for the erection of a building supposed to contain the premises for the out-patient consultation, a large hall devoted to a pathological museum, a library and a conference room.7

In fact, the creation of the new building offered all the facilities for the exhibition of the moulages collection made by Baretta from 1867 and for the installation of the library, claimed par the physicians to provide the students with theoretical teaching8, both educational structures completing the teaching role of the out-patients consultation.

Begun in january 1882, the building was officially accepted by the administration february 5th 18859. Scheduled for january 1st 1887, the official opening iof the library was postponed to november 1887 because of the classifying of the books and periodicals made by Feulard with the assistance of a patient of the hospital.


A new library for a new specialty

The interior design of Saint-Louis Hospital medical library looks like university libraries installed in the 1870's France, characterized by a small number of seats and a balcony overhanging a relatively small-size reading room10.

First kept for the students of Saint-Louis hospital, the library actually opened its door to all the students of the Paris hospitals�.

Many donations from Saint-Louis and out of Saint-Louis heads of departments allowed to build up the first collection of the new library. For instance, Charles Lailler made transfer the collection that he had created in his department in 187411. So, a year after its foundation, the new library numbered more than 2000 volumes. Few years laters, several legacies enriched the collection: Bassereau (300 volumes in 1888), Hardy 620 volumes, Lailler 1300 volumes, Vidal 120 volumes, Doyon 800 volumes in 1893), Feulard (500 volumes in 1897). Moreover the French Society of Dermatology left in the library its own collection identified by a special code.

In favour to the specialization in dermatology, Feulard wished to gather the dermatological collections of the Paris hospitals into Saint-Louis library that he wanted to become the central dermatological library in the birth place of dermatology in France.

However, despite this project of specialization, the catalog of the library reflects the interest of the french dermatologists not only for dermatology but also for the internal medicine and other medical specialties. In fact, the number of specialized and non specialized periodicals increased simultaneously until the 1970's.

In this context, the library allowed the actualization of the knowledge in general medicine and dermatology and completed the practical teaching provided by the 6 departments of dermatology in Saint-Louis hospital which role in the french schhol of dermatology was strenghtened after the creation on december 31st 1879 of the first chair of dermatology in Paris, attributed to Alfred Fournier12.


The Henri-Feulard Library, the Wax Moulages Museum and the international influence of the French School of Dermatology

Beyond the teaching consideration, the creation of the dermatological library lied within the necessity to restore the influence of the french school of dermatology.

In fact, in the 1860's, few prestigious clinicians such as Würtz, Dean of the Paris Faculty of Medicine and Jaccoud, Professor in this Faculty, worried about the progressive loss of leadership of the french school of medicine. In the dermatological field, Besnier, head of a department in Saint-Louis, Doyon founder of the Annales de dermatologie had called the attention of their colleagues to the preeminence of the german universities and notably the General Hospital in Vienna "center of the dermatological teaching to which we have nothing to compare"13. Leloir, Professor of dermatology at the Lille Faculty of Medicine, considered that "there is no country capable to compete with the austrian dermato-syphiligraphic teaching"14.

In this context, the creation of the museum-library seemed to be the ideal solution for a better scholarly approach offering in the same place the theoretical, practical and clinical aspect of dermatology as the german universities did. In fact, Besnier regarded this creation as a true institute of dermatology inspired from the german pathological institutes.

The Universal Fair held in Paris in 1889 encouraged the french dermatologists to organize in Saint-Louis hospital the first world congress of the specialty. The museum, choosen as the best venue for such an event, was officially inaugurated for the opening ceremony of the congress on august 5th 188915. Few weeks before, june 22nd 1889, the french dermatologists had founded the French Society in Dermatology16.


Henri-Feulard Library today : multimedia center in Dermatology

From the beginning of the 1930's, the Assistance publique droping its financial support, the library had to stop the purchasing of new books. In this context, in 1947 and 1948, the French Society of Dermatological allocated a subsidy that allowed the library to survive. However, despite this support the financial situation of the library worsened from the 1960's and became appaling at the end of the 1970's.

Since 1987, the Henri-Feulard Library has been managed by an association co founded by the Assistance publique, the French Society of Dermatology and supported by the Union of dermatologits, the teaching federation of dermatologists and the dermao cosmetic industry17.

Today, the collection contains more than 15000 titles in all aspects of medicine, 3000 of them being devoted to dermatology and sexually transmitted diseases. The library subscribes to all periodicals in dermatology read by more than 3000 readers each year. In 1986, dermatologits have created a database in therapeutics that can be asked through the phoneline by the Minitel. A website is under construction ( that will soon allow the access to the documentary services of the library.




Statuts portant création de la bibliothèque médicale de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Archives de la bibliothèque Henri-Feulard et du Musée de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, cote ARK 69.
WALLACH D., TILLES G., Henri Feulard, Secretary of the first international congress of dermatology, Int. J. Dermatol., in press.
Rapport d'activit� de la bibliothèque médicale et du Musée, Archives de la bibliothèque Henri-Feulard et du Musée de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, cote ARK 14.
Proc�s-verbal des s�ances du Conseil de surveillance de l'Assistance publique, 3 juin 1897, p. 661.
TILLES G., Histoire des bibliothèques médicales et des Musées des hôpitaux de l'Assistance publique. L'exemple de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Th�se pour obtenir le grade de docteur �s Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l'Université Paris XII, Paris, 1995.
TILLES G., WALLACH D., Le Musée des moulages de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Assistance publique.Hôpitaux de Paris, Doin, Paris, 1996.
Rapport présenté par M. Bourneville au nom de la 8�me commission sur différents travaux à ex�cuter à l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Conseil municipal de Paris, Rapport n�70, 1881.
M�moire relatif à la création de la bibliothèque médicale de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, 30 juin1887, p.4, Archives de la bibliothèque Henri-Feulard et du Musée de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, cote ARK 14.
PEYRON E., Discours prononcé à l'occasion de l'inauguration du Musée et de la bibliothèque médicale de Saint-Louis in Congrès international de dermatologie et de syphiligraphie tenu à Paris en 1889, Comptes-rendus publiés par le docteur Henri Feulard, Paris, Masson, 1890.
BLETON J., Les bâtiments in Histoire des bibliothèque françaises, les bibliothèques de la Révolution et du XIXème siècle sous la direction de Dominique Varry, Promodis-Editions du Cercle de la Librairie, 1991 : 183-237.
Hôpitaux, Le Progr�s M�dical, 1874, 45 : 674-677.
Proc�s-verbal de la s�ance du 8 janvier 1880 de l'assembl�e des professeurs de la Facult� de Médecine de Paris, Archives Nationales, cote AJ/16/6220.
BESNIER E., DOYON A., Etat actuel de l'enseignement dermatologique. Pr��minence de l'ecole de Vienne. N�cessit� d'une r�forme en France, La France M�dicale, 1881, 62 : 741-745; 63 : 753-758; 64 : 766-769.
LELOIR H., Organisation de l'enseignement de la dermatologie et de la syphiligraphie dans les universités allemandes et austro hongroises, Etude comparative de la dermato syphiligraphie en France, en Allemagne et en Autriche Hongrie, Annales de dermatologie et de syphiligraphie, 1888, t. IX : 54-64; 122-132; 194-284.
WALLACH D., TILLES G., First international congress of dermatology and syphilology, Paris, Aug. 5-10, 1889, J. Amer. Acad. Dermatol., 1992, 26, 6 : 995-1001.
TILLES G., WALLACH D., 22 juin 1889, fondation de la Société française de dermatologie, Ann. Dermatol.Vénérol., 1989, 116 : 965-972.
WALLACH D., La bibliothèque Henri-Feulard de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis, Sem. H�p. Paris, 1995, 71 : 266-270.