Conducting Research

The McGovern Center welcomes you to research its rare book and historical collections. Whether you know exactly what you want or need reference assistance to narrow a broad research topic, the staff at the McGovern Historical Collections will facilitate access to available materials and resources.

All the materials found in the McGovern Historical Collections, including rare books, manuscripts, photos and artifacts, must be used in reading rooms under the supervision of staff during business hours. Materials cannot be checked out.

Some things you should know

Reading Room Rules

Rare Books
The rare books are cataloged in The TMC Library’s online catalog. Medical Subject Headings are used for all the Library’s books. These are different from keywords or the Library of Congress’ Subject Headings. If you need help with finding particular subjects, we’ll be glad to help you.

If you’re interested in what makes a book rare, you may find: Your Old Books by the American Library Association helpful.

Many of our finding aids are available online. Unfortunately not all our archival collections are processed. Consult with an archivist about resources in your field that may be available for research.

If you are new to research in an archive, you may find: Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research by the Society of American Archivists useful.

Photo Collections
The McGovern Historical Collections has two photo collections. One collection is cataloged and can be searched using the library’s catalog. The second collection consists of several hundred photos related to the Houston area. Consult an archivist for information.

Reference Files
The McGovern Historical Collections has a small reference collection or vertical files about medical history. Most of the collection is devoted to Houston medical history.