The recent establishment of a rare book collection as part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Foundation Museum gives Academy members additional access to an important facet of our ophthalmic heritage. Many 17th and 18th century works, such as those of Cotton Mather and Philip Syng Physick, long remained in manuscript form. Published works on ophthalmology first appeared as chapters in surgical texts. Ophthalmology texts authored by Americans followed the important texts from England and the Continent, and the works of Frick (1823) and Littell (1837) deserve special mention. Other works, including the memoirs of Elisha North, the founder of the first American eye infirmary, and the transcript of the trial of George McClellan following failed cataract surgery, give vivid insights into our country's ophthalmic beginnings.
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