Press Release - Joel A. Klein Named First Molina Curator for the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences at The Huntington

February 20, 2018


Joel A. Klein

SAN MARINO, Calif.- The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has named Joel A. Klein as the inaugural Molina Curator of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. Klein, a historian of early-modern science and medicine on fellowship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, joined the staff on Feb. 1.


The new curatorial position was endowed in recognition of The Huntington's ever- expanding holdings related to the history of medicine, including its 2016 acquisition of one of the world's most comprehensive collections on the history of human reproduction, and its growing distinction as a leading institution for researching in this dynamic area.


"Having significant history of medicine collections within The Huntington's humanities context presents wonderful opportunities for innovative scholarship and outreach," said Sandra L. Brooke, Avery Director of the Library. "Joel Klein has done impressive research both here and abroad. With his background in the history of alchemy and chemical medicine, his knowledge of Latin and German, and his experience at Columbia University's Making and Knowing Project, he is the ideal person to develop and interpret our important collections, and to work with scholars in a broad range of disciplines who are exploring topics within the history of medicine."


Before the Chemical Heritage Foundation fellowship, Klein was a lecturer in history and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University, where he worked on the Making and Knowing Project, a research and pedagogical initiative that explores the intersections between artistic creation and scientific knowing. His graduate work at Indiana University concentrated on the history of chemistry and medicine and took him to Germany to research his current book project, "Chymical Life in Early Modern Europe," with a focus on the German physician Daniel Sennert (1572-1637). He also worked on the university's Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project, for which he encoded Newton's manuscripts and reconstructed his alchemical experiments. Klein has a Ph.D. and M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University and a B.S. in Chemistry from Oregon State University.


"Historical medical collections are at a major crossroads," he said. "The Huntington's recent acquisitions demonstrate a critical commitment to the preservation of our medical cultural heritage that fortifies the library's significance to the history of medicine and the medical humanities. I am extraordinarily excited to work with such a talented group of professionals and scholars to explore and expand the collections, use new technologies to enhance their interpretation, and foster scholarship and education related to the humanistic study of medicine and early science."


The Huntington's current status as a center for the study of the history of medicine began with Henry E. Huntington when acquisitions he made established the library as a key repository for medical incunabula (material printed before 1501). Among the institution's early visiting scholars in 1929-30 were William H. Welch (1850-1934), a founding professor at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and first director of its Institute of the History of Medicine, and Charles J. Singer (1876-1960), a British historian of science, technology, and medicine at University College London. In 1992, the Los Angeles County Medical Association put its 6,700-item archive of rare books and manuscripts on permanent deposit at The Huntington. In 2006, the institution substantially expanded its holdings in the field of the history of science and technology when it was given the entire Burndy Library, composed of some 67,000 rare books and reference volumes, as well as a collection of scientific instruments.


But it was the 2016 acquisition of The Lawrence D. and Betty Jeanne Longo Collection on Reproductive Biology that prompted The Huntington to establish a dedicated history of medicine curatorial position. Composed of some 2,700 rare books, 3,000 pamphlets and journal articles, a dozen manuscripts, and a major trove of reference works, the collection traces dramatic shifts in knowledge about women's health and healthcare from the late 15th to the 20th century.


The position was endowed through the generosity of Huntington Overseer J. Mario Molina, M.D.


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Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260,
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140,


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About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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