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Digitising the Medical Journal of Australia – a centenary gift to the nation

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To the Editor: Just as the juxtaposed centenary of the First World War is creating intense national and international interest, the centenary of the Medical Journal of Australia is an excellent opportunity to delve into the history of Australia’s health. The Journal has recently published historical articles and photographs, often informing readers about forgotten stories. It is the national repository of invaluable information about health care and medical research, with related editorials, medical biographies and much more. While articles selected by the Journal’s editorial staff undoubtedly raise interest, much greater scope for historical and genealogical research would be satisfied if all issues of the Journal were digitised.

Early issues of the printed Journal are accessible in major libraries and universities in capital cities, but these are much less readily available in new medical schools, to international scholars and for the general community.

More than 200 years ago, the first issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery (now New England Journal of Medicine) had as its first article “Remarks on angina pectoris” by John Warren.1 This and all subsequent articles are now available online. Online access to other major medical journals dates back to issues published from October 1823 for The…