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History of Medicine

Databases, indexes, and catalogues

Core databases and indexes for secondary sources

Some useful databases for the history of medicine are listed below. 

  • Web of Knowledge General academic database. Science citations go back to 1900, making this a source for finding historical, primary material.
  • History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) Journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of science, technology, and medicine and allied historical fields.
  • Historical Abstracts Covers world history from 1450 (excluding the U.S. and Canada).
  • JSTOR Contains together scholarly journals, including in the history of medicine.
  • Project Muse Scholarly publications in the humanities and social sciences, including journals and books.
  • America: History and Life Covers American and Canadian history.
  • MEDLINE Premier bibliographic index of journal articles in medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and the pre-clinical sciences. Possible to limit results to only "History of Medicine" by clicking on "More Limits". (Note: The National Library of Medicine's free article index PubMed contains all the citations in MEDLINE plus other material. See What's the difference between MEDLINE and PubMed for more information.)
  • IndexCat (Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office) Both a catalogue and an index, with records for journal articles, books, pamphlets, reports, dissertations and portraits. A great source for locating primary resources. References are multilingual and cover medicine and allied areas. Coverage is through 1950.(Note: for a comparison of coverage between IndexCat and Index Medicus, see the NLM explanatory page.)
  • Subject Catalogue of the History of Medicine and Related Subjects Published by the Wellcome Library and includes items published between 1900-1978. Good to find earlier articles that may not be in HSTM.
  • Index Medicus Print version of MEDLINE, produced from 1879 to 2004. Useful for locating material published before the electronic databases were created.


Thematic or specialized databases and research collections

  • Adam Matthew Explorer brings together all of the primary source databases available to McGill users, including several containing medical historical material, including: American Indian Newspapers; Church Missionary Society; Early Modern England; Everyday Life and Women in America; Gender Identity and Social Change; Medical Services and Warfare; Popular Medicine in America, 1800-1900; Race Relations in America; Research Source - Medieval and Early Modern Studies; Sex and Sexuality; Victorian Popular Culture.
  • Global Health Archive Contains citations of articles, books, reports, and conference proceedings on public health, tropical and communicable diseases, nutrition, etc. in several languages from 1912 to 1983. (Note: The "Find It at McGill" button occasionally fails to recognize journals that McGill has - check the catalogue if this happens.)
  • Global Project on the History of Leprosy Includes a database of archival holdings and articles, lists of oral history projects with some excepts, and some scanned photos and maps.
  • Google Patent Search Full-text search of patents issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office from the 1790s to the current day. Records include patent description and images.
  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses provides access to theses and dissertations produced around the world, with full-text items from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. This is the access point to dissertations formerly collated and listed under the now-discontinued list, "Recent dissertations in the medical humanities."
  • Osler Library Reprints Collection Over 2,000 articles and book chapters on medical history, personages, institutions and some now historic general medicine. Many of these articles/chapters are also found in books and journals held by the Osler Library but some are not. This material is not listed in the library catalogue and can often be hard to locate using other indexes. A particularly good source on McGill and Montreal medicine.
  • Royal College of Physicians Database Historical papers, books, and other resources from the library of the Royal College of Physicians, London, touching on the development of medicine via sources spanning 1205-1980.


Archival databases

  • Osler Library Archives Collection Contains nearly 200 collections of papers by or about doctors, medical students and organizations, including significant collections on Sir William Osler, Wilder Penfield, Maude Abbott, and the Canadian Health Libraries Association.
  • Archives Unbound contains collections of archival documents from the Middle Ages to the present, from around the world. Notably, this collection includes the Norman Bethune Papers, based on Osler Library holdings. The database also contains such sub-sections as Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. 
  • History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium  Search descriptions of archival material in history of medicine in institutions across the U.S. and Canada.
  • ArchiveGrid Searchable database of archives held in thousands of collections around the world.


Other library catalogues

  • WorldCat A union catalogue, or large collective catalogue with resources from more than 70,000 libraries worldwide. Go to the McGill WorldCat link here and select "Libraries Worldwide" to search.
  • British Library
  • Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, provides access to millions of digital resources.
  • LocatorPlus Online catalogue of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, one of the most important collections of historical material and writings about the history of medicine. Contains records of books and some book chapters and articles.
  • Wellcome Library online catalogue Contains records for books, journals, reports, pamphlets, theses, patents and images. Important UK collection in history of medicine.
  • Académie nationale de Médecine Holds 400,000 volumes including 800 manuscripts and 113 incunables, as well as the archives of historical medical associations in France.
  • Database of Canadian e-resources from Library and Archives Canada A directory of Canadian websites on a variety of subjects, including medicine and health.
  • CiSMeF Histoire de médecine "Catalogue et index des sites médicaux de langue Française." From the University of Rouen, this site lists databases, libraries, associations, and other resources in French.

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