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History of Medicine: Resources

Resources for exploring the history of medicine


To find articles about the history of medicine, use one of these indexes:

History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Provides citations and some brief abstracts to journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of science, technology and medicine and allied historical fields from prehistory to the present.

PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE

PubMed and Ovid are two ways to search MEDLINE, a journal index from the National Library of Medicine that goes back to 1946. There is a filter that allows you to limit to "History of Medicine." Search for your topic and then limit your search using the filter.

  • PubMed: Filters are to the left of your results.  If Subjects does not appear, click on Show additional filters, then click in the box next to Subjects and then click on Show.  If History of Medicine does not appear under Subjects, click on Customize, then in the box next to History of Medicine, and then Show.  You can now narrow your results to those articles in the History of Medicine subset of MEDLINE.
  • Ovid: To narrow your results, click on Additional Limits under Limits.  At the next page, under Subject Subsets, select History of Medicine.  Then click on Limit a Search at either the top or the bottom of the page.

To find historic articles, use one of these indexes:

  • Web of Science indexes articles in the scientific literature back to 1900.
  • MEDLINE indexes the medical literature.
    • PubMed is MEDLINE online, going back to 1946.  Pre-1965 records have no abstracts and were assigned fewer subject headings, so searching is more limited. In addition, many subject headings for pre-1965 records are outdated.  
    • Index Medicus was the print version of MEDLINE.  The library has versions of Index Medicus from 1879 to 1956.  See Index Medicus and Quarterly Cumulative Index Medicus.
  • American Periodicals Series Online, 1740-1900 contains digitized page images from over 1000 periodicals and chronicles the development of America across 150 years. 
  • 19th Century Masterfile indexes nineteenth century literature, including newspapers, periodicals, books, and government publications.

Consult bibliographies to identify historically important medical literature:

  • Morton's Medical Bibliography: An Annotated Check-list of Texts Illustrating the History of Medicine, 5th ed., Dana and Matthews-Fuller Reference, Z6660.8 .M67 1991.
  • The History of the Health Care Sciences and Health Care, 1700-1980: a Selective Annotated Bibliography, Dana Z6660.8 .E74 1984.
  • American Medical Bibliography 1639-1783, Dana Z6659 .G8 1962.
  • American Medical Imprints, 1820-1910 : a checklist of publications illustrating the history and progress of medical science, medical education, and the healing arts in the United States : a preliminary contribution / Francesco Cordasco, Dana Z6661 .U5 C67 1984.

Books on the History of Medicine

Journals on the History of Medicine

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