Lilla Vekerdy

Head, Special Collections Dept.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Lilla Vekerdy earned her masters degree with a teacher’s certificate in literature and linguistics, and her second masters in library sciences at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 1984. In all three fields, her studies included areas of concentration in history, and she specialized in complex studies of medieval manuscripts and early printed books.  She also took courses in art history and archeology.
Between 1984 and 1987 Vekerdy was manager of a historical book, archival and museum collection in Sopron, Hungary, and then, in 1987 she returned to her University to be a research associate and lecturer at the Department of Historical Linguistics.  There she taught codicology and managed a publication project for a critical edition of sixteenth-century Hungarian manuscripts.  Also, she taught English to professionals at the Department of Foreign Trade, and cataloged rare books for the Library of the Budapest Historical Museum.
In 1990 immigrated to the U. S.  In 1991 she became Rare Book Cataloger at Washington University School of Medicine Library in St. Louis and received an academic appointment as Associate Librarian in 1992. 
Vekerdy resumed research on sixteenth-century manuscripts with the aid of an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for work at the Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University in 1993, and later conducted research and published on Paracelsus (1493-1541) and on sixteenth and seventeenth century philosophy of science. 
Between 1995 and 2005 she undertook  doctoral studies at Saint Louis University.  She was in charge of the rare book collections in the School of Medicine Library at Washington University from 1992-2008 and taught history of medicine for medical students. 
Since 2008 Vekerdy has been Head of Special Collections at the Smithsonian Libraries. She oversees the operations of eight rare book collections and the publication process of major library publications, gives tours, lectures, and presentations, mentors research fellows and interns, participates in exhibitions, and enjoys the day to day interaction with historical materials in The Dibner Library of History of Science and Technology. Her research interest and publications are in the history of medicine as well as in rare book studies, and often about the overlay of these two fields.

Articles and Slides


2015               Vekerdy, L., ed., The era of experiments and the age of wonder: Scientific expansion from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2015).

1996               Wechsler [Vekerdy], L. et al., comp., The Bernard Becker Collection in Ophthalmology: An annotated catalog. (St. Louis: The Bernard Becker Medical Library, 1996.)

                           1988               Vekerdy, L., critical ed., Simor-kódex (Budapest: Magyar Nyelvtudományi Társaság, 1988).

                           1988               Vekerdy, L., critical ed., Krisztina-legenda (Budapest: Magyar Nyelvtudományi Társaság, 1988).

Book Chapters:

2013               Vekerdy, L., “The Union’s constructive genius” in Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the national collection (Washington DC, 2013), pp. 128-129.

2012               Vekerdy, L., “Georg Bartisch and His Augendienst” in 2012 Proceedings of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society, Bethesda, MD: [s. n.], 2012, pp. 48-58.

2010               Vekerdy, L., “Classics of optics and ophthalmology in two famous rare book collections” in 2010 Proceedings of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society [s. l.: [s. n.], 2010, pp. 61-68.

2005               Vekerdy, L., “Paracelsus’s Great Surgery” in Textual Healing: Essays in Medieval and early Modern Medicine. (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2005), pp. 78-99.

1999               Purkerson, M.L., Vekerdy, L., “History of women in nephrology (1918 to 1960)”  in Seminars in Nephrology 19 (1999, March):89-94.

1998               Wechsler [Vekerdy], L., "Reflections of a Paradoxical Polymath: An Analysis of the Sieben Defensiones, the Paragranum, and Portraits of Paracelsus” in Zinguer, I. ed., Systèmes de pensée précartésiens (Paris: Champion, 1998).


2005               Vekerdy, L., “Simon Forman: The Notorious Astrological Physician of London.”Journal of Medical Humanities.Vol. 26, No. 2-3, Sept., 2005, pp. 203-205.

2001               Vekerdy, L., “Muses and the Healing Art” Bixby Bibliopod (2001, March): 4.

1999               Purkerson,  M.L.,  Vekerdy,  L., “A history of eclampsia, toxemia and the kidney in pregnancy” American Journal of Nephrology 19(1999):131-9.

1997               Purkerson,  M.L., Wechsler [Vekerdy], L., “Depictions of the kidney through the ages” AmJNephrol 17 (1997): 320-324.

                           1995               Vekerdy, L., "Izraeli útinapló [Journal of a Trip in Israel]" Vigilia, 1995, no. 6, p. 618-24.

1994               Vk., L. [Vekerdy, L.], "Krisztina-legenda" in Uj Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon [New Hungarian Encyclopedia of Literature] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994), p. 1152.

1994               Vk., L. [Vekerdy, L.], “Simor-kódex" in Uj Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon [New Hungarian Encyclopedia of Literature] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994), p. 1810.

                           1990               Vekerdy, L., "Winkler-kódex" (Review) Magyar Nyelv, 1991.

Digital publications:

2007               Vekerdy, Lilla, E. Dubinsky. “Rare Books@Becker: Highlights from the Bernard Becker Medical Library Collections.” Bernard Becker Medical Library.

2006               Muldoon, Kathleen M., J. Phillips-Conroy, L. Vekerdy. “3D visualization of the pelvis and perineum: using online tools to enhance dissection.” Department of Anatomy, Dartmouth Medical School; Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University School of Medicine.

2003               Vekerdy, Lilla. “Gems of Italian Medical History.” Bernard Becker Medical Library.

1995               Oestry, Linda; Lilla Vekerdy; Russ Monica. “Powerful Grace Lies in Herbs and Plants:” A Digital Retrospective of a Joint Exhibit.”  Bernard Becker Medical Library.