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History of the Health Sciences

A collection of reference resources related to the history of the health sciences, including medicine, dentistry, and nursing.

Online resources

Digital primary sources

Find digitized, full-text historical materials

  • Medical Heritage Library
    View digitized, open access resources in this collaborative library in the history of healthcare and the health sciences

  • National Library of Medicine Digital Collections
    Access online images from the historical collections of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Images include fine art, photographs, engravings, and posters that illustrate the social and historical aspects of medicine dating from the 15th to 21st century.

  • New York Academy of Medicine Digital Collections
    Access NYAM's historical collection on the history of medicine and public health, including rare books, manuscripts, pharmaceutical trade cards, and more.

  • Wellcome Collections
    Find thousands of freely licensed digital books, artworks, photos and images of historical library materials and museum objects from the Wellcome Collection.

  • Duke History of Medicine Artifacts Digital Repository
    View images of medical artifacts such as replicas of Roman surgical tools, manikins used to teach anatomy, and obstetrical tools. Images are in the public domain.

Digital secondary sources

Learn background and context for selected historical topics in health sciences

Collection guides

Search across thousands of collection guides (also known as finding aids) from many institutions at once

  • Online Archive of California
    Search across more than 20,000 online collection guides from archives around California. Browse, locate sources, and view selected items digitally (the OAC contains more than 250,000 digital images and documents).
  • ArchivesGrid
    Search over 5 million records describing archival materials from over 1,000 different archival institutions. Locate primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies (some guides link to digital materials when available).
  • ArchivesWest
    Search across collection guides from institutions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah (some guides link to digital materials when available).


Get an engaging, broad overview of selected topics in the history of health sciences

  • Bedside Rounds
    A storytelling podcast about medical history and medicine’s intersections with society and culture.
  • This Podcast Will Kill You
    Hosted by two disease ecologists and epidemiologists, each episode tackles a different disease and its history.
  • The History of Medicine
    Explore the rich history of medicine, from the diseases that once plagued us, how the medicine we take for granted today came to be, and the curious characters and stories surrounding these technologies.
  • Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
    Discussions of the "weird, gross, and sometimes downright dangerous ways we tried to solve our medical woes through the ages."

Illustrated histories