The Gravid Uterus and the History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series

In February 2013, the Robert B. Greenblatt, M.D. Library was honored to receive William Hunter’s Gravid Uterus. Dr. Leslie Wilkes (Medical College of Georgia, Class of 1965) presented to the Historical Collections & Archives his copy of Hunter’s historical book Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata [The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures], generally known as the Gravid Uterus.

William Hunter was a famous anatomist, surgeon, and obstetrician in 18th century Great Britain and author of numerous articles on anatomy, surgery, and midwifery. He served as the Physician to Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. His book, Gravid Uterus, was published in 1774 and includes a dedication page to King George III.

While his younger brother John Hunter was a prolific and perhaps a better-known writer of medical textbooks, the Gravid Uterus is William’s most well-known work and is considered to be one of the best anatomical atlases ever published. The script is in Latin and English, a unique feature of the book.

The artistic anatomical drawings were created by Jan van Rymsdyk over a period of several years. The drawings of pregnant uteruses were drawn of several cadaver subjects at various stages of pregnancy, from nine months to conception. When Hunter was ready to publish this anatomical atlas, engravers made the engraved plates utilizing van Rymsdyk’s drawings. The Gravid Uterus measures 26” x 19”, which allows the anatomical drawings to be presented as life-size. Dr. Wilkes’ gift of the Gravid Uterus is available for viewing in the Historical Collections & Archives.

As part of the History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series at Greenblatt Library, Bill Andrews, Professor and Interim Chair of the GRU Medical Illustration Program, gave a presentation regarding the Gravid Uterus on Thursday, April 24, 2014. The lecture was held in the Historical Collections & Archives Room (AB-225) from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

The Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch. Please contact Renée Sharrock at or 706-721-3444 for more information about the Lecture Series or about seeing the Gravid Uterus.


Dr. Leslie Wilkes and the Gravid Uterus