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Research Guides

HPS319H1 - History of Medicine II: 17th-20th century (Fall 2019)

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

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. 

Examples of secondary sources include:

How to find secondary sources

  1. Write down your argument or question. For example: Darwin wasn't the first naturalist to write about ethics. Why is this significant? 

  2. Pick a resource. Catalogue for books; Database or journal (for articles).

  3. Break up your search question into concepts. Darwin wasn't the first naturalist to write about ethics = Darwin AND ethics

  4. Think of synonyms for each of your concepts. Use OR to combine synonyms and AND to combine concepts. Use parentheses or the database search boxes to separate your concepts. Darwin AND ethics = (Darwin OR pre-Darwin OR "Herbert Spencer") AND (ethics OR moral sense OR morality OR morals).

  5. Search! 

  6. Look at the results of your search. Use limits (date of publication; history journals; language) to refine your results or add/remove keywords to find more/less information. 

  7. Read a couple relevant results. Look at reference lists/works cited lists of published books to find more primary and secondary sources to keep informing your research. 

  8. Ask your librarian for help! 



  • You may or may not find sources of information on the exact combination of ideas, perspectives, and/or topics you are researching in order to make your argument/assertion.

  • You may have to research the ideas within your argument separately: background sources are a good place to start.

  • You may have to adjust or realign your argument as your research progresses (!).

Catalogue tips

1. Use the side menus in the library catalogue to focus your results: for example, you can choose the language, time period, 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.

Browse the Clio Medica Series @ Gerstein

Can't find a topic? Looking for some inspiration? Want to find some different secondary sources on the same history of medicine topic or by the same historian? Try browsing the Clio Medica Series (1965 - present) in the Gerstein Periodical Stacks (and check out the Belgian-imported glass floors while you're there!). Every monograph in this series includes a number of articles all organized around a central theme. Find that hidden gem. 

You can browse the list of titles here, but note that this series is NOT available online. 

Use these databases to find journal articles written by historians

Browse/Search Major History of Medicine Journals