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History of Medicine, Healthcare, and Disease: Books

This guide is intended to provide a starting point for historical research on health topics and diseases.

Search BobCat

Search for books, journals, videos, etc. in our local libraries and special collections.

NYU Libraries' online catalog.


The Literature, Arts and Medicine Database (LitMed) is a collection of literature, fine art, visual art and performing art annotations created as a dynamic, comprehensive resource for scholars, educators, students, patients, and others interested in medical humanities.

Selected General Works for History of Disease

Finding Information in Books

Background information for the history of disease is often found in general works listed below.  Also see E-Book section:

    • Cayton, M. K. et. al., eds. (1993). Encyclopedia of American Social History. New York: Scribner. Call Number: REF1 HN57 .E58 1993
      See especially Volume 3, Part XIII: Science, Medicine and Technology.







    • Ramazzini, B. (1964). Diseases of Workers. Translated from the Latin text De morbis artificum, of 1713, by Wilmer Cave Wright. New York: Hafner Pub. Co. Call Number: RC964.R283 1964



You can find additional materials by searching the library catalog BobCat by subject under the appropriate Library of Congress Subject Heading. The following terms can be used in searching for the history of disease:


Medicine -- History
Disease -- History
Medical geography

More specific keywords or subject terms may also be searched:


AIDS (Disease)

Some of the subdivisions listed under these subject headings include:

Heading Subheading Example
Health care reform 

--Economic Aspects

Health care reform -- Economic aspects



--Law & legislation

Abortion--law and legislation

--Moral & ethical aspects

Biotechnology--Moral & ethical aspects

--Government policy

Influenza--Government policy

--United States--History--20th century

Poliomyelitis--United States--History--20th century



Diabetes -- Complications
Bellevue Hospital, Training School for Nurses


Bellevue Hospital, Training School for Nurses -- History

(geographic areas can also be specified, such as Great Britain)

Tuberculosis--Great Britain

U.S. National Library of Medicine


U.S. National Library of Medicine Links:               

    • NLM History of Medicine Home Page:  Collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers and the public, print and non-print materials that document the history of medicine, health, and disease in all time periods and cultures.

    • NLM Historical Books and Journals  More than 600,000 printed works includes pre-1914 books and serials, thousands of pamphlets and dissertations, and pre-1871 journals.  Material in the collection covers every area of the history of medicine and the health sciences in the United States and Europe, and substantial collections of Latin American and Asian publications.
    • IndexCat, the online version of the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, U.S. Army (61 volumes in 5 series, 1880-1961), is a comprehensive subject catalog of books, pamphlets, dissertations, reports, and journal articles published from the 17th-20th century and held by NLM. Researchers will find material in IndexCat that is not in the Library catalog (LocatorPlus).

    • Prints and Photographs   The Prints and Photographs Collection contains approximately 100,000 images dating from the 15th to the 21st century (including the online image database)

Other Online Catalogs