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HPS 319 Research: History of Medicine II: 17th–20th Century

This guide is intended to assist students in Prof. Lucia Dacome's HPS 319 course.

Types of Primary Sources

Think about what kinds of primary sources might be related to your topic:

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

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.

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

For another definition, see Yale University:


Cholera bulletin Gore (Ont.: District). Medical Board. Ephemera, 1832. Toronto Public Library. 


You might find references to primary sources in the works cited or bibliography of a reference tool and/or a secondary source (journal article, book, or book chapter)