USNLM was established in 1836 as the Library of the Army Surgeon General's Office. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and its Medical Museum were founded in 1862 as the Army Medical Museum. Throughout their history the Army Medical Library and the Army Medical Museum often shared quarters, including a stint at Ford's Theater, the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1936 the Library collection was transferred from the control of the Department of Defense to the Public Health Service of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and renamed the National Library of Medicine. The Library moved to its current quarters in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in 1962.
The National Library of Medicine produces Index Medicus (since 1879) and MEDLINE (since 1971).