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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

Primary Source Search Tips

Where can I find primary sources?

1. UTL Primary Source Database List

2. National Archives (United Kingdom)

  • Digitized collections grouped by time period and topic, specifically related to the history of the United Kingdom.  Includes periods that may be relevant for course assignments (pre-1600).


How do I search the databases effectively?

1) Utilize the advanced search functions of databases when available

2) Consider alternative ways of saying the same term (ie. bubonic plague OR black death OR black plague OR pneumonic plague)

3) Ensure you are searching the correct date range and location according to your desired topic (ie. there were 3 waves of the bubonic plague in England, so you should limit search by date range and location  to ensure you are retrieving sources from the correct time period and place)


What kinds of primary sources could I look for?

If you are finding it difficult to find primary sources related to topics on medicine, consider alternative disciplines or frameworks that may apply to the topic!

  • Sociology
    • How did people treat those who were sick?  What was the public perception of doctors & nurses at that time?
    • Possible primary sources: doctors' or nurses' journals or diaries, artwork depicting medical professionals or the ill, newspaper articles about medical professionals
  • Architecture
    • How did medical knowledge affect city layouts?  Sanitation infrastructure?
    • Possible primary sources: architectural drawings, city planning documents or reports, artwork of cities/towns
  • Women & Medicine
    • What role did women play in medical treatment?  Were patients treated differently based on gender?
    • Possible primary sources: women's journals or diaries, posters or other public material, artwork depicting women and medicine
  • Medicine Across the World
    • What parallels can be drawn between medical practice in different parts of the world?  How was medical knowledge shared between different groups of people?
    • Possible primary sources: newspaper articles, maps, trade records that may indicate sale of medicine or sharing of medical knowledge



This page was created by Danielle Wong when working as a Reference Assistant at the E.J. Pratt Library as a graduate student in the Library & Information Science and Archives & Records Management programs of U of T's iSchool (2023-2024).