History of Psychiatry

Liaison librarian

  • mary.yearl [at] mcgill.ca (Email) 514-398-4475 x09847
  • McGill users only
  • Open access resource
  • Free resource
  • In-library-use only
  • Catalogue record

Note: Items marked "McGill only" are only accessible from computers on the McGill campus network or remotely via EZproxy or VPN. To find out how to access these resources, go to Accessing online resources.


Reference sources for background information

Medical biographies

Medical terminology

  • Credo Reference Source for information about medical terminology and related topics.
  • Oxford Reference Online Searches multiple reference books. Useful for definitions and brief information about terms and people in medical history.

General history of medicine


Article indexes and databases

History of medicine

  • History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) Journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of medicine, science and technology. Journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of medicine and allied fields, science and technology. NOTE: most of the historical medical entries date from 1991 to 2004,so use one of the general databases listed below to find additional recent resources.

General academic

General history

  • America: History and Life Journal articles, book reviews, and some dissertations on Canadian and US history. Broad subject coverage includes medical topics.
  • Historical Abstracts Journal articles, book reviews and some dissertations on world history from 1450 (particularly the West). Note: Excludes Canada and the United States.

Medicine and the arts

  • Literature, Arts & Medicine "Annotated multimedia listing of prose, poetry, film, video and art" maintained by New York University School of Medicine.



  • McGill University's WorldCat 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, such as e-books and e-journals. For first hand accounts and case records, try using search terms like: personal narratives; narratives; diaries; correspondence; interviews; biographies; case studies.
    • An easy way to narrow down printed books to only history of medicine (i.e. eliminate contemporary medical literature from your search results) is by searching in the Osler Library subcatalogue of the Classic Catalogue:
      • Click the "Sub-catalogues" tab, then click "Osler Library of the History of Medicine" under the Libraries and Collections category
      • Run your search!
  • Use McGill's WorldCat Catalogue when searching for e-journals, e-books and databases.


Primary resources

Article indexes

  • IndexCat (Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office) Catalogue and index with records for journal articles, books, pamphlets, reports, dissertations and portraits, good source to locate primary source material. Coverage through 1950.
  • MEDLINE Major index of journal articles in medicine and related fields from the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Some material going back to before 1950.
  • PsycINFO Professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines. Includes material dating from 1806, good source for finding historical journal articles.
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective Online version of The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, an index to popular American periodicals. Material from 1890 to 1982.
  • Web of Knowledge General academic database. Science citations go back to 1900, making this a source for historical, primary material.
  • Early Canadiana Online Contains digitzed rare books, periodicals, and government publications from Canada from the 1600s through the 1940s, including The Montreal Medical Journal and others. Search the "Health and Medicine" collection.

Full-text journals online

Full-text books and other material

  • Internet Archive Freely available digitized out-of-copyright books, journals and other material. This is a good resource for locating historical books (primary material).  This site cannot perform full-text searches across all material.  You have to open a specific book or other item and then do a full-text search only on that item.
  • Medical Heritage Library This is a subset of the Internet Archive of selected historical medical material. The difference between this site and the Internet Archive is that the MHL lets you do full text searching across all the digitised content. This is a good resource for locating historical medical information embedded into more general primary historical works.  Searching is still in beta form, so read the help file to refine your search (e.g. add a date limit).

Films and video

  • Internet Archive - Moving Image Archive Collection of free online films, including public health films. The subset of the Prelinger Archives is particularly useful.
  • National Film of Board of Canada Catalogue of films made by the National Film Board, including Canadian government films. Can search by categories "Health and Medicine" and "Psychology and Psychiatry."
  • Alexander Street Counseling Online collection of videos for the study of counseling, social work, psychotherapy, psychology, and psychiatric counseling.


  • Images from the History of Medicine Nearly 60,000 digitzed images from the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine.
  • Wellcome Images Includes over 160,000 historical and contemporary digitized images. Narrow down to historical images in advanced search.

Transcripts and narratives

  • Counseling and Psychotherapy Transcripts Database of 2,000+ transcripts of counseling and therapy sessions and 44,000 pages of first-person narratives illuminating the experience of mental illness and treatment. Also includes secondary reference works material.

Research guides


Other Information

Other subject guides

Citation styles

McGill Library information


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