The Center for the History of Medicine is the custodian of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives. (BWH is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.) Collections include historic records from BWH’s parent hospitals.

These include:

  • Boston Lying-in Hospital (1832–1966)
  • Free Hospital for Women (1875–1966)
  • Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1913–1975)
  • Robert B. Brigham Hospital (1914–1975)
  • Boston Hospital for Women (1966–1975)
  • Affiliated Hospitals Center, Inc. (1975–1980)

We also preserve noteworthy records of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (1980 to the present).
Email us to ask a question or to schedule a visit to the BWH Archives.


  • How can I get a copy of a birth certificate?

    Birth certificates are not kept by the BWH Archives or by BWH Medical Records. The Massachusetts State Archives is the official repository for records from the area. Records after 1920 are available from here: Registry of Vital Statistics.

  • How can I get copies of old medical records?

    Contact Brigham and Women's Health Information Management here: Request Medical Records. They manage all medical records no matter how old the records are.

  • Are the BWH Archives online?

    Only a fraction of the entire collection is available online. But those items are some of the most useful records for BWH related research. For example, Annual Reports (1875–1979) and hospital newsletters (1943– 1999) are online. Find links to all digitized content online here: BWH Collections.

  • Where are the BWH Archives?

    The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives are part of the Center for the History of Medicine. The Center is in the Countway Library of Medicine, which is on the Harvard Medical School campus. The address is 10 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115.

  • How do I get help from the BWH Archivist?

    To ask a question or to schedule a visit to the BWH Archives, email the Center. Specify Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives in your note. You should receive a reply within two business days.

  • How do I start a research project using material from the BWH Archives?

    Study the published collection guides and digitized material available here: BWH Collections. Make a list of physical items relevant to your specific research question. You may then make an appointment to examine the physical items via email. Specify Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives in your email request.

  • Can I have copies of archival photographs or documents?

    It depends. BWH does not own the copyright on all the material in our archival collections. If the copyright for the items you want belongs to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital you can have copies. Please note: other legal and policy restrictions may also apply. Contact the archivist for detailed information via email.

  • What kinds of things are in the BWH Archives?

    We collect…

    • administrative records
    • public relations material
    • historic photographs
    • annual reports
    • special event records
    • building specifications
    • artifacts and memorabilia
    • training program and fund raising records
    • serial and stand-alone hospital publications

    …for the current Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as the pre-merger hospitals that united to create it.

  • How do I donate material to the BWH Archives?

    To make contributions to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives send an email to the Center.

  • Can you explain the hospital’s unusual name?

    The name is an amalgamation of the names of the four unique hospitals that merged to create it. The Boston Lying-in Hospital merged with the Free Hospital for Women in 1966. This merger resulted in the new name, Boston Hospital for Women. In 1975, BHW merged with the Peter Bent Brigham and the Robert B. Brigham Hospitals. These three operated as divisions of the new entity—Affiliated Hospitals Center, Inc. In 1980, AHC completed construction of a new state-of-the-art facility. Then all the divisions moved in together under one roof. To honor its historic legacy, the name of the hospital became: Brigham and Women's Hospital. A Teaching Affiliate of Harvard Medical School.