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Body History - HIST 457 Winter 2011

Liaison librarian

  • Christopher [dot] Lyons [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-4475 x09847

Note: Items marked McGill only are only accessible from McGill authenticated computers, such as in the Library, or remotely via VPN. To find out how to access these resources, go to Connecting to Library Resources at McGill and Remotely

Reference Sources (Encyclopedias/Dictionaries/Bibliographies)



  • Cambridge Historical Dictionary of Disease. McGill only This reference work has detailed entries for 161 diseases, describing both their histories and characteristics.
  • History of Medicine Biographical Sources A list of online biographical reference sources maintained by the Osler Library of the History of Medicine.
  • Image Collections A list of online collections and databases of historical medical illustrations by the Osler Library of the History of Medicine.
  • Oxford Reference Online McGill only This source searches multiple reference books, providing definitions and brief information for terms and people in medicine and history, drawing upon works such as the Oxford Companion to the Body, the Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary, and the Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. This resource can be searched in total or by specific subject areas.


  • The Cambridge World History of Human Disease. Osler Ref folio QZ 11.1 C178 1993
  • Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine. Osler Ref WZ 13 C737 1993. This work has many good essays with bibliographies.
  • A Dictionary of the History of Medicine. Osler Ref folio WZ 13 S443d 1999.
  • Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence: from Ancient Times to the Present. Osler Ref folio WA 13 E565 2001.

Article Indexes and Databases


History of Medicine

  • History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) McGill only The HSTM database provides access to journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of medicine and allied fields, science and technology.

    NOTE Most of the medical entries date from 1991 to 2004, so to locate earlier works on the history of medicine it is best to consult the Subject Catalogue of the History of Medicine and Related Subjects (Osler Ref folio ZW 1 W447s 1980 - 18 volumes), published by the Wellcome Library, for the period 1900-1978. Material from 1979-1991, and a great deal more, can be found in the The Wellcome Library online catalogue, which contains records for books, journals, reports, pamphlets, theses, patents and images. Later references can also be found in the general history indexes listed below.

  • LocatorPlus This is the catalogue of the National Library of Medicine in the United States, containing records of books, book chapters (individual essays) and audiovisual material.

General History

  • America: History and Life McGill only This contains references to journal articles, book reviews and some dissertations about Canadian and United States history from the earliest times. Its subject coverage is broad and includes medical topics.
  • Historical Abstracts McGill only This contains references to journal articles, book reviews and some dissertations about the history of all parts of the world from 1450, EXCLUDING Canada and the United States. Its subject coverage is broad and includes medical topics.
  • NOTE: You can search both "America: History and Life" and "Historical Abstracts" simultaneously by selecting both in the choose databases section, the link for this is located next to the database name.


  • McGill University's WorldCat Catalogue lists books and articles owned by McGill and elsewhere. The Classic Library Catalogue lists almost all of the printed holdings in the various branches of the McGill Library, as well as electronic, microform and audio-visual material.

Primary Material

Medical Indexes

  • EMBASE McGill only is a major biomedical and pharmaceutical database indexing over 3,500 international journals in a number of medical fields. It's European content makes it a good complement to Medline, although there is some overlap. EMBASE CLASSIC McGill only is drawn from 43 Excerpta Medica biomedical and pharmacology print journals published between 1947 and 1973.
  • IndexCat (Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office) IndexCat is both a catalogue and an index, containing over 4.5 million records to journal articles, books, pamphlets, reports, dissertations and portraits, making this a great source for locating primary material in medical history. The references are multilingual and cover medicine and allied areas. Coverage is of material from antiquity through 1950.
  • MEDLINE McGill only Produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) MEDLINE is a major bibliographic index of journal articles covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and the pre-clinical sciences going back to before 1950, including some historical articles.

Newspapers and magazines

  • Google News has an archive of newspapers and periodicals going back aproximately 200 years, including the "Montreal Gazette." Not all content is freely viewable, however.
  • Newspapers, a listing of online historical and contemporary newspapers and newspaper/magazine databases available at McGill.
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective McGill only This is the on-line version of The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, an index to U.S. popular periodicals. The online version indexes material from 1890 to 1982.

Other Indexes

  • FRANCIS McGill only. FRANCIS is a multilingual, multidisciplinary database covering the humanities and social sciences. FRANCIS is strong in areas such as archaeology, geography, linguistics, philosophy, religion, and sociology. The database contains more than 1 million records dating from 1984 to today. It includes French and English references to journals, books, conference papers and other documents.
  • Sociological Abstracts McGill only. Sociological Abstracts indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences from 1952 to today. The database provides abstracts of journal articles and citations to book reviews drawn from over 1,700 serials publications, and also provides abstracts of books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers.
  • Web of Knowledge McGill only Web of Knowledge allows for searching for articles by topic, author, source title, and/or author address, as well as by cited author and/or cited work. Science citations go back to 1900, making this a source for finding historical, primary material.

Full text

Government Information

  • The McGill Library possesses a world-class collection of government information from the governments of Canada and Quebec, as well as other provinces, Great Britain, the United States and others dating back centuries. Material from the League of Nations, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Labour Organization are also held. A wide selection of material is available online.

Other Useful Information


Subject Guides

Citation Styles

  • The Library's How to cite page has information on various citation styles.


Library Information

This page was created and is maintained by Chris Lyons, Assistant History of Medicine Liaison Librarian.
Do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at: 398-4475, ext. 09847; by christopher [dot] lyons [at] mcgill [dot] ca (email) , or at the Osler Library, room 414.

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