Bioethics Archives

Archival Collections

This page lists the complete archival collections held by the Bioethics Research Library. Selected materials from archival collections are available by request for Georgetown University researchers to examine in the Bioethics Research Library. Many archival collections include finding aids or box listings to assist with identifying materials to select for retrieval. Other collections may include fully digitized reports or documents available for free through DigitalGeorgetown. Documents from the archives may also be requested for digitization on demand. A fee may be assessed to the researcher for time spent identifying, retrieving, and scanning the document. You may now schedule an appointment to view archival materials. Please contact Nat Norton, M.A.L.S., Archives and Digital Technician, for assistance.

Rihito Kimura, Ph.D.: “I was very happy to  study the documents from the “Robert Cook-Deegan Human Genome Project Archive” at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.  The collection includes important correspondence with researchers in Japan as well as original pamphlets/documents in Japanese. These documents were invaluable to my research on human genome initiative in Japan. A special thank you to Martina and Nat, KIE Librarians who were extremely helpful in locating and preparing the documents.”

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1974-1978

In the early history of bioethics, the Executive Branch’s Department of Health, Education and Welfare established the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The archive encompasses 43 meetings from 1974-1978 and includes briefing books, subject files, and transcripts from these meetings.

1974 – 1978 * 13.76 linear feet * Finding Aid * Digital Collection * Reports

Ethics Advisory Board (EAB), 1978-1979

This group began in 1978 under the auspices of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Its pronouncement on human embryo research in 1979, followed by the EAB dissolution, began a 15-year moratorium on such research.

1978 – 1979 * 1.66 linear feet * Report

President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and in Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1978-1983

This congressionally mandated group was formed in 1978, succeeding the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. It worked independently from January 1980 to March 1983. The archive encompasses 28 meetings held between 1980 and 1983 and includes briefing books, subject files, and transcripts from these meetings.

1978 – 1983 * 28.35 linear feet * Finding Aid * Digital Collection * Reports

Human Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel, 1988

The National Institutes of Health created this advisory panel to deliberate over federal support of therapeutic transplantation research using human tissue obtained from aborted fetuses. The group existed from the spring to the fall of 1988. Its report recommended continuing the funding for such research if guidelines were established to keep abortion separate from the research. Despite the recommendation, the moratorium on such research was extended from a temporary one to an indefinite one.

1998 * 0.42 linear feet * Report

Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, 1994-1995

Created in January 1994 and dissolved in October 1995, the 14-member committee was charged with investigating and reporting on the use of human beings as subjects of federally funded research using ionizing radiation. To maximize public access as required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the committee created for the first time a gopher site on the World Wide Web, which is now under the National Security Agency Archives.

1994 – 1995 * ca. 20.02 linear feet * Final Report * Archived Website

National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), 1996-2001

The National Bioethics Advisory Commission was established by Executive Order 12975. The purpose of the Commission was to provide advice and make recommendations to the National Science and Technology Council and other appropriate government agencies. The archive contains materials for every year of the commission’s existence and maintains the official website of the commission as it appeared on the last day of the commission’s charter, October 3, 2001.

1996 – 2001 * 00.000 linear feet * Archived Website * Reports

The President’s Council on Bioethics (PCBE), 2001 -2009

The President’s Council on Bioethics was established by Executive Order 13237 and was charged with advising the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology. The archive holds materials and reports from every year of the council and maintains the official website as it appeared on the last day of the council’s charter, September 30, 2009.

2001 – 2009 * Archived Website * Reports

The Edmund D. Pellegrino Manuscript Archive, 1957-2013

The manuscript archive of Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., (1921-2013) contains over 600 scholarly journal articles (including reprints, pre-publication drafts, and original journal volumes), monographs, reports, conference proceedings, speeches, original books with book chapters and introductions to bioethics texts and collections written by Dr. Pellegrino. The Pellegrino archive includes translations of his work published in Italian and Spanish.

1957 – 2013 * Manuscript Bibliography

The Edmund D. Pellegrino Ephemera Archival Collection, 1957-2013

The Ephemera Archival Collection of Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., (1921-2013) contains personal papers, awards, correspondence, press clippings, and other materials that span the career of Dr. Pellegrino.

1957 – 2013

The Robert Cook-Deegan Human Genome Archive, 1986-1994

The Robert Cook-Deegan Human Genome Archive is founded on the bibliography of The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome. The archive encompasses both physical and digital materials related to The Human Genome Project (HGP) and includes correspondence, government reports, background information, and oral histories from prominent participants in the project.

1986 – 1994 * ca. 20.85 linear feet * GeneWars Digital Book * Digital Collection

Bioethics Audiovisual Archival Collection, (1931-Present)

The Bioethics Research Library’s collection of 739 audiovisual materials, which are mostly on VHS and DVD, covers a range of topics in the field of bioethics. This collection holds a diverse set of resources including major Hollywood motion pictures, independent films, news features, and documentaries. Patrons can use this collection to create common experiences for viewers, bring diverse and wide-ranging life stories and ethical questions into the classroom, and harness additional expertise on topics and issues in bioethics.

1931 – Present * 26.25 linear feet * Finding Aid

Bioethics Gray Literature Archival Collection, 1975-2006

Print archive for the BIOETHICSLINE database developed and maintained by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics for the National Library of Medicine from 1975 to 2000 and for the PubMed indexing project generated by National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature bibliographers from 2000 – 2006. This archive contains gray literature, journal articles, law reviews, court decisions, and news articles. Many of the gray literature documents have not been digitized and thus are not available via the Web. Examples of such categories include secondary school teaching materials, sociological and theological works, theses and dissertations, and literature from societies and institutions.

1975 – 2006 * 66.00 linear feet

Bioethics Newsletters Archival Collection, 1971-Present

In addition to regular journal subscriptions, the Bioethics Research Library since its inception has actively sought to collect newsletters, bulletins, and other publications produced by organizations covering bioethical issues. This archive compromises more than 40 years of these publications, many of which have never been digitized.

1971 – Present * 30.00 linear feet * Finding Aid * Collection Page

Acadia Institute Bioethics Interview Collection, 1997-2000

This collection contains transcripts of interviews by Renée C. Fox and Judith P. Swazey based on a series of interviews Fox and Swazey conducted with a number of well-known bioethicists. The interviews served as the backbone of their book, Observing Bioethics. These transcripts are now available digitally for anyone interested in the history of bioethics.

1997 – 2000 * 1.67 linear feet * Digital Collection

Bioethics Syllabus Exchange Repository Digital Collection, 1985-Present

Since 1985, the Syllabus Exchange Repository at the Bioethics Research Library has functioned as a clearinghouse for bioethics syllabi to promote the study of bioethics as a discipline. The collection consists of over 600 syllabi in three languages from 12 countries. While the standard course syllabus documents a semester-length class, seminars and continuing education courses are included as well. The collection contains courses from high school through graduate education.

1985 – Present * Digital Collection

Bioethical Issues: Scope Notes Archive, 1982-2003

To promote research in the interdisciplinary field of bioethics, the Bioethics Research Library produced a series of 47 Scope Notes – annotated bibliographies with introductory essays – to provide a range of opinions on bioethical issues. They offered immediate reference to facts, opinion, and legal precedents (if applicable) for scholars, journalists, medical and legal practitioners, students, and other interested persons. Scope Notes 17, 22, 24, and 28 were updated in July 2011 as part of the library’s National Information Resource on Ethics and Human Genetics preservation project.

1985 – 2003 * 0.42 Linear feet * Digital Collection

Additional Archival Collections Held by the BRL

The papers of Father Baumiller

The papers of Bradford Gray

12.08 linear feet

National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars

3.75 linear feet

New Jersey Bioethics Commission

0.83 linear feet

Publications of the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature

Audio Recordings from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’ Intensive Bioethics Course (1986-2004), the Brenan Lecture Series, and other Special Events

Last updated on May 1st, 2014.


Spotlight: Online Resources

tumblr_mygxfiKpib1slpkheo1_1280Every wondered where to start your bioethics research? Have you run out of time, but still need a few more sources for your latest paper? When the weather outside is frightful, but the deadline hasn’t been extended you can still take advantage of the Bioethics Research Library’s online resources!

Physical Archive? Digital Archive? Both!?!

Archives 1What is in that collection? You mean there’s more? Wait, only some of it available? When working in an archive the questions are endless, but it always comes back to how to access the materials. It can be really confusing and oftentimes leaves students and researchers asking why. Why are some documents are digitized and others are not. Why some documents can only be viewed digitally and not physically.  Even why some documents are not available at all!

Spotlight: Dr. Pellegrino


An annual tradition returns this week to Georgetown University and with its return the Bioethics Research Library has the opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest friends the Library has ever had: Dr. Edmund Pellegrino.

Join us this week as we explore the contribution of Dr. Pellegrino to the field of bioethics and specifically his legacy as it pertains to the collections of the Bioethics Research Library.

Personal Genomics: Resources

brl-testlogo2A look back at the 2nd annual Conversation in Bioethics Series and the resources available at the Bioethics Research Library around the topic of Personal Genomics is the focus of this week’s blog.

A couple of weeks ago the Kennedy Institute of Ethics hosted the 2nd annual Conversations in Bioethics. This year’s topic was Personal Genomics and brought together stakeholders from many different disciplines to sit down and discuss this fascinating topic. The BRL, as part of the group that welcomed the speakers and guests to campus, was tasked to create a resource that would showcase many of the materials we had to offer on this subject.

Spotlight: Islamic Medical and Scientific Ethics (IMSE) Collection

imse_logoMany of the items we bring you each week deal with our in house projects. Whether it is a new collection we are developing, a weekly program that has become a favorite or just an exploration of a great service we provide. These are all vital to what makes the Bioethics Research Library such a vibrant part of the bioethics community, but we would be remiss if we did not also occasionally highlight our larger, collaborative projects.

This week we are going to learn a little bit about our Islamic Medical and Scientific Ethics (IMSE) collection and show what can be accomplished when two libraries, thousands of miles apart, come together to create a truly unique resource.

A Brief History of the BRL

brl-testlogo2Have you ever wondered how the Bioethics Research Library became the Bioethics Research Library? Maybe you have looked up while studying and caught the sun streaming through the stained glass and asked yourself, “I wonder if the H for Healy (it doesn’t actually)?” Perhaps you have heard that the BRL is the oldest bioethics library in the world and pondered just how old is it?

Today we will take a brief look at the history of the BRL and highlight a few resources where answers to the above questions and many more can be found!

Extended Hours, Online Resources, and Cookies for Study Days!

Healy Library Stained GlassHard to believe December is here. It is even harder to believe that the semester is nearly over! Don’t worry, though, the BRL has you covered with extended hours, plenty of online resources, and, of course, expert help to give you an edge for that final paper.

The Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University is a destination library for bioethics scholars worldwide and an exceptional resource for the entire Georgetown community.