History of Health and Medicine in Canada, c. 1848-1984 - HIST 596

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

Reference Sources (Encyclopedias/ Dictionaries/ Biographies)


  • Bibliography of Canadian Health Sciences Periodicals The most complete listing of journals in medicine (1826-1975), Dentistry (1854-200) and nursing (1905-1980) published in Canada.
  • Cambridge Historical Dictionary of Disease This reference work has detailed entries for 161 diseases, describing both their histories and characteristics.
  • The Cambridge World History of Human Disease Introductory essays on medical history plus essays on various medical topics (e.g. public health, specific diseases) which include the classical period. Entries have bibliographies.
  • Canadian Health Obituaries Index File This searchable database contains listings for obituaries and notices of death which appeared in almost thirty Canadian medical journals between 1833 and 2000. This database is an INDEX which refers researchers to the full obituary and does not contain the actual obituary, although there are links to online versions of many of the journals.
  • Dictionary of Canadian Biography This source contains detailed biographies of notable Canadians who died before 1931.
  • Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary This is a good source for information about medical terminology. If you can't find a term in it, or need more information, try one of the more comprehensive collections below.
  • Lovell's Montreal Directory The digitised version of the annual directory for Montreal and the surrounding area covering the years 1842 to 1999. There are name and business directories (e.g. physicians' listings), plus other information.
  • Oxford Reference Online 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.


  • 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.
  • Trois siecles d'histoire medicale au Quebec: chronologie des institutions et des pratiques (1639-1939). Osler Ref WZ 70 D C2a G698t 1992 (also available in Osler regular loan).

Article Indexes and Databases

History of Medicine and Science

  • History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) The HSTM database, from the Research Libraries Group, provides access to journal articles, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, and dissertations in the history of medicine and allied fields, science and technology.
  • MEDLINE The premier bibliographic index of journal articles covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and the pre-clinical sciences from before 1950 on. After a search, one can limit results to the "History of Medicine" subset by clicking on "More Limits".
  • NOTE: The U.S. National Library of Medicine also offers a free version of Medline called PubMed. This offers access to all parts of MEDLINE but lacks some of the functions made available through the McGill only version.


  • Recension bibliographique: les maladies infectieuses dans les périodiques médicaux québécois du XIXe siècle, Volume One: Choléra, coqueluche, diphtérie, érysipèle, fièvre jaune, fièvre scarlatine, fièvre typhoïde, gale, grippe, lèpre, malaria, peste, pleurésie, pneumonie, rage, rougeole, tétanos, tuberculose, typhus, variole. Volume Two: Transmissibles sexuellement: blennorragie, chancre mou, syphilis; et les maladies nerveuses et mentales. Osler Reference ZWC 100 P222r folio t.1,1988, t.2. 1995.

    English and French references included, often of hard to find material.

  • Secondary Sources in the History of Canadian Medicine: A Bibliography (2 Volumes). Osler Reference Folio ZWZ 70 DC2 R744s 1984 and 2000. This indexes a great variety of material (such as articles, book chapters and books) from throughout the twentieth century.

General History

  • America: History and Life 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. To search this you need to select "United States and Canadian History" in the drop down search options.
  • Historical Abstracts 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. To search this you need to select "World History excluding US and Canada" in the drop down search options.
  • 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.

Primary Material

  • Early Canadiana Online This is a full text collection of historical digital material, such as medical journals, parliamentary papers and reports, serials, pamphlets and books, up to the early twentieth century. ECO supports both key word searching and browsing by subject.
  • 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.
  • Osler Library Collection of Medical Almanacs. There is a database listing the Library's collection of over 200 medical almanacs from the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly Canadian. Records of these are in the process of being added to the McGill Library Catalogue.
  • PubMed Central, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, has digitised a number of nineteenth and twentieth century medical journals, including the The Canadian Medical Association Journal from 1911 on. The content of these, along with more recent publications, can be searched in PubMed Central.


  • 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. Searches can uncover both primary and secondary medical history material.

Archival, Museum and Rare Book Sites

  • Archives de Montréal has the records of the various bodies of the City of Montreal and a number of local organisations. One can search the collection by using their online catalogue.
  • Bibliotheque et archives nationales du Quebec has an important collection of primary material in Montreal and Quebec history, as well as archival collections. One can search just for archival material held in Montreal by going to Pistard and selecting "Centre d' archives de Montreal" in the advanced search.
  • McCord Museum has numberous artefacts and archival material related to Canadian ethnographic, decorative and natural history, as well as a searchable online database of close to 100 000 photographs of people and places across Canada from the 19th and 20th centuries from the Notman Collection. See the collections section of the website for more details about various holdings, including online content.
  • The McGill University Archives has records and other material from the Faculty of Medicine, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and individuals and organizations involved in Montreal medical/health history.
  • The Osler Library Archives has over 100 collections of papers by or about doctors, medical students and organisations, as well as photographs and other images. There is a searchable database of fonds level descriptions.
  • Rare Books and Special Collections Divison of the McGill University Library website lists some general information about the collections and services and a link to McGill Library's digital collections.


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