Otis Historical Archives

The Otis Historical Archives (OHA) was established in 1968 to take custody of the National Museum of Health and Medicine's institutional records, historical manuscript collections, photographic collections, and rare books, which were previously held by the other four collections divisions. Thus, the Archives document the holdings of the other divisions not only as separate collections with unique specializations, but in a way that emphasizes the interconnectedness of records, artifacts, and specimens that makes the museum unique.

Particularly strong collections within the OHA include the areas of medical illustration, including anatomical drawings and paintings, photographs, and photomicrographs; reconstructive surgery and prosthetics; tropical and infectious disease research; trade literature and advertisements; medical technology and battlefield surgery from the Civil War through to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Archives continues to collect material relating to these themes, with special emphasis placed on the experience of the modern warfighter, medical innovation, and forensic medicine.

Image Reproductions

Quality scans of materials in the collection are offered for personal use, research, and publication at the discretion of the OHA, National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM). OHA is a research archive and not a stock photograph repository; therefore, requests for images and textual documents may require a significant amount of time to make them available. The Archives asks that you keep this in mind when using our services and plan accordingly for your potential needs and deadlines.

When making your request, please provide any details you may have about the material you are requesting that might assist us in identifying the images or files (photo ID number, collection name, web link, title, etc.). The Archives has no associated fees with reference service or image reproduction, but reserves the right to limit requests based on volume and time requirements. Due to the high volume of requests the archives receives, the number of images provided to an individual or organization may be limited at the discretion of NMHM.

NMHM requires researchers complete a permission to use form (provided by the archives) prior to receipt of the material you request. You must provide contact information and disclose how the information will be used (for personal, research, or publication purposes). If you are requesting the material for publication or exhibition purposes, you must provide related details (publisher, author, title, print run, etc.).

In most cases, orders will be completed within 30 days from the date the permissions form is completed and returned.


  • The archive makes files available electronically, via FTP or e-mail.
  • Files provided for print publication will be high-resolution 600 dpi TIF format unless otherwise requested.
  • Files provided for research and personal study will be in lower-resolution 300dpi JPEG format unless otherwise requested.
  • Some materials may be available only in lower resolutions.

Scheduling a Visit & Remote Research

The Otis Historical Archives is open for research BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is closed on federal holidays. Appointments must be made at least one month in advance. Visitors should familiarize themselves with requirements for access to federal facilities, particularly regarding REAL ID, available at the DHS website. Non-US citizens must comply with Department of Defense policies and should allow ample time for their visit requests to be processed. The Archives encourages remote research requests via email. Researchers interested in consulting the collections are advised to read the Guide to Collections (PDF 1.34 MB) before sending an e-mail to USArmy.Detrick.MEDCOM-USAMRMC.List.Medical-Museum@health.mil.