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Every BMJ article since 1840 now online

From chloroform and malaria to the link between lung cancer and smoking, every BMJ article published since the journal's first issue in October 1840 is now freely available online from

The archive includes some famous names and important articles which have changed the world of medicine. Eighteen of the BMJ Group's specialist journals - including Heart, Gut, and Thorax — are also available.

For example, in 1847, James Simpson used the BMJ to publicise his work on chloroform, paving the way for modern anaesthetic techniques. And in 1867, an article by the young Joseph Lister introduced the concept of antiseptic to promote wound healing.

At the turn of the 20th century, a study by Patrick Manson and Ronald Ross - two rivals in tropical medicine research - established the theory that mosquitoes transmit malaria.

Doll, Doyle and Florence Nightingale

And, in the 1950s, the BMJ published two landmark studies that have transformed the way we live today. The first by Richard Doll and Bradford Hill confirming the link between smoking and lung cancer, and the second by Alice Stewart, showing a link between low level radiation and childhood leukaemia, which led to today's radiological safety standards.

Other famous names from the archive include David Livingstone, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Florence Nightingale.

BMJ Tony Delamothe says: 'Creating a complete and fully searchable BMJ archive has taken nearly a decade and was made possible by the extraordinary generosity of the US National Library of Medicineand the UK's Wellcome Trust and Joint Information Systems Committee. For the BMJ alone, this involved scanning over 824,000 pages often from thin, friable paper.

'This is a hugely inspiring chronicle that opens up a wealth of possibilities and we are convinced that many of the issues and ideas are still of use to modern researchers. The archive marks an extraordinary achievement and reinforces the BMJ Group's commitment to providing wider access and use of its content.'

Page created on May 1st, 2009

Page updated on December 1st, 2009