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Research Guides

HPS318 History of Medicine I: Antiquity to the Renaissance (Winter 2020)

This guide is intended to assist students in the course as it is taught by Professor Lucia Dacome with TA Andrew Jones.

Background Reading Resources

Secondary Sources

If you're not sure how to start your assignment for HPS318, you can start with STEP 1: find a secondary source and work backwards to a primary source. 

If you already have your primary source for HPS318, you should be ready for STEP 2: jump into the secondary sources to find more information to contextualize your primary source. 


Find a secondary source (book, journal article) on your topic and then see if that source references a primary source, and then look up that primary source in the library catalogue or by browsing relevant special collections of primary sources. 

For example, let's say I'm interested in medicinal drugs in antiquity, and I know that an ancient medicinal drug is the mandrake. I might type the word "mandrake" into the L'Annee Philologique, because it's a database of secondary sources on ancient Greece and Rome. 

When I find the article "Mandrake from Antiquity to Harry Potter", I read that the author is referencing an ancient text that contains early mentions of the mandrake's medicinal properties: De Materia Medica of Pedanius Dioscorides

I type De Materia Medica  of Pedanius Dioscorides into the library catalogue and see that there is an english translation available at Gerstein Science Information Centre: This is my primary source!


Now it's time to search for secondary sources to find information to help contextualize your primary source and complete your annotated bibliography. 

For example, let's say I've found De Materia Medica of Pedanius Dioscorides. I would next start searching the name of that text, its author, the place it was written, etc in databases of secondary sources (JSTOR or L'Annee Philologique, the catalogue, etc) to be able to better understand the nature of this document, its creator, and why it remains significant to the history of medicine. 

Use these databases to find journal articles

Find books in the library catalogue


Catalogue tips

1. Use the side menus in the library catalogue to focus your results: for example, you can choose the language, the library, the kind of material (eg., video), author (to find books on the topic by a particular author)

2. You may need to try your search a few times with different keywords to find everything.

3. If you have more than one keyword, try doing your search in two steps. For example:
Step one, enter:
residential schools
Step two, enter:
canada, click on 'within results,' and then click on search.

Other libraries and Interlibrary Loan

Can't find what you are looking for in our catalogue? Don't despair!