Opiates and opioids have been used for centuries, both medicinally and recreationally, and the danger in using them in too large quantities has long been known. Created to accompany The New York Academy of Medicine’s 2019 Opioid Symposium, the Opioid Collection helps shed light on the reasons behind the opioid crisis.

Support the Opioid Collection

An adoption of an item from the Opioid Collection helps ensure the care of and access to these materials. Theme collection items are available for multiple adoptions. When you contribute towards the preservation of these items, you join a family of adopters supporting awareness of opioids and opiates in history. Some of the Library’s items are showcased below:

John Jones. The mysteries of opium reveal’d. London: Richard Smith, 1701.

Doses of laudanum by gender and size

This book, written by London physician Dr. John Jones (1645–1709), is the first to detail the acute and chronic effects of opium on its users, including psychological effects. Jones also argued in this book that, unlike the prevailing view of the time, opium did not disable the “animal spirits,” but worked by causing a “pleasant Sensation” that relaxed the body. He thought that taking it in moderate doses (in the form of laudanum, opium dissolved in alcohol) was an excellent treatment; also included is a table with dosage recommendations for women and men of varying body sizes.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Catalog Record: http://bit.ly/2KY1Z5C

Georg Wolffgang Wedel. Opiologia ad mentem academiæ naturæ curiosorum. Jenæ: Sumptibus J. Bielkii, 1682.

Opiological title page

Written by German physician and professor Georg Wedel (1645–1721), this book discusses the pharmacological aspects of opium and details the business of procuring it from Middle Eastern suppliers for the West. The engraving on the title page shows an Arabic apothecary processing poppies to produce opium. Notable mentions include the “salt of opium” (later known as morphine), the use of opium as a sedative prior to surgery, and the belief among laypeople that opium was a poison, depending on the dose. 


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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Catalog Record: http://bit.ly/2P8mvWj

Smorgasbord for newcomers. Compiled by Thomas Reed and Herschel Kaminsky. New York: n.p., c. 1967–1975.

Smorgasbord for newcomers

This unique collection of four volumes of material, compiled by Thomas Reed and Herschel Kaminsky in the Department of Evaluation of the Addiction Services Agency (ASA), comprises technical reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, and other works on narcotics and drug abuse. Volume I includes the history and organization of ASA; Volume II includes materials on the nature of the drug problem, and fact sheets on drugs and information on alcoholism; Volume III includes materials on different treatment approaches and other analyses; and Volume IV includes materials on drug law, employment for former addicts, drug education, bureaucracy, and literature reviews.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Catalog Record: http://bit.ly/33ONtp8

[Lawrence Boardman Dunham clippings and correspondence albums]. Compiled by Lawrence Boardman Dunham? n.p., n.p., c. 1926–1932.

Dope Disease Not Vice, Says Bundesen

This one-of-a-kind collection of newspaper clippings in three volumes, likely compiled by Lawrence Boardman Dunham (1882–1959), details opioid crises around the country and the world, including in different populations and among marginalized groups. From 19251928, Dunham was associated with the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM), directing studies concerning crime and juvenile delinquency, and then, from 1928–1934, he was director of the Bureau of Social Hygiene. He also served as a technical advisor to the U.S. delegation to the League of Nations Opium Convention in Geneva, Switzerland in 1931–1932. Correspondence to Dunham that accompanies some of the clippings shows up in the volumes, leading credence to the idea that he was the compiler of this set.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Catalog Record: http://bit.ly/2U9zSo1

Other books on these topics from our collections include:

Advice to opium eaters: with a detail of the effects of that drug upon the human frame, and a minute description of the sensations of a person who has been in the habit of taking opium ... / written by himself; to which are subjoined full directions which will enable every opium-eater entirely to conquer that injurious habit. 1823.

Samuel Crumpe. An inquiry into the nature and properties of opium: wherein its component principles, mode of operation, and use or abuse in particular diseases, are experimentally investigated, and the opinions of former authors on these points impartially examined. 1793.

Thomas De Quincey. Confessions of an English opium-eater: with, Levana; the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons; notes from the pocket-book of a late opium-eater. 1886.

Philippe Hecquet. Réflexions sur l'usage de l'opium, des calmants, et des narcotiques, pour la guerison des maladies. 1726.

League of Nations. First opium conference, Geneva, November 3rd, 1924–February 11th, 1925. Minutes and annexes. 1925.

John Liggins. Opium, England's coercive opium policy and its disastrous results in China and India: the spread of opium-smoking in America. 1883.

Arthur Bomberger Light. Opium addiction. C. 1930.

Jansen Beemer Mattison. The treatment of opium addiction. 1885.

Sara Graham Mulhall. Opium, the demon flower. 1926.


Support the Opioid Collection

Please note: multiple people are able to adopt items in the Opioid Collection.