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HPS 318 Research: History of Medicine from Antiquity to the Renaissance

This guide is intended to assist students in the course as it is taught by Professor Lucia Dacome

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source...was created at the time of the event...or by people who were observers of, or participants in, that event. ...

           The medium of the primary source can be anything, including written texts, objects, buildings, films, paintings, cartoons, etc.

What makes the source a “primary” source is when it was made, not what it is.

 --Professor Elspeth H. Brown, Dept. of History, University of Toronto.

 For another definition, see Yale University:

Think about what kinds of primary sources are relevant to your topic:

  • letters/correspondence
  • diaries
  • memoirs
  • treatise
  • reports
  • newspapers
  • pamphlets
  • government documents
  • institutional records
  • maps
  • photographs
  • films


Vesalius, Andreas: Andreae Vesalii Bruxellensis, scholae medicorum Patavinae professoris, de Humani corporis fabrica Libri septem.

     Basileae : [ex officina Ioannis Oporini], [Anno salutis reparatae 1543].

     Universitätsbibliothek Basel, UBH AN I 15, / Public Domain Mark