The Organon

We love working with Special Collections in libraries because they house the most interesting and unique items. U.C. San Francisco is a medical school, and their Special Collections Library houses a wealth of material from around the world, most related in some way to medicine. This includes not only traditional Western and Chinese medicine, but also what many consider alternative medicine.

This one-of-a-kind book: The Organon, by Samuel Hahnemann is in their Homeopathy Collection. The physical book is unique because it is Hahnemann's personal copy of the Fifth Edition, published in 1833, and includes hundreds of hand-written corrections for the Sixth Edition, which was never published in his lifetime. Hahnemann is credited with inventing the practice of homeopathy in 1796.  The Organon was his definitive text on the subject, and he died before the Sixth Edition could be printed.

The challenge in digitizing this book was the need to include all Hahnemann's hand-written notes, and most of them are on separate pieces of paper, glued to various places on the printed pages. We had to be careful not to damage this priceless book, and also to achieve enough quality in the scans so they could be run through automated translation (the book is in German) and OCR.  We achieved that level of quality with one of our DSLR overhead capture systems. 

Organon Title Page

An online version, with page turning and zoom ability, can be viewed at the UCSF Library's Digital Collections website.