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HSHM 475/HIST 128J: Race and Disease in American Medicine: Primary Sources beyond Yale

Guide for Sakena Abedin's seminar, HSHM 475/HIST 128J: Race and Disease in American Medicine

Posters and Prints in the National Library of Medicine

Image of 3 people, a Hispanic man, Black woman, and Native American woman


The National Library of Medicine has over 70,000 historical images in its collection, including many on diseases.

Maps and Health

Map of United States with HOLC areas denoted

Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America
Among the thousands of area descriptions created by agents of the federal government's Home Owners' Loan Corporation between 1935 and 1940, the one that was written for what is now called the Carver Heights neighhborhood in Savannah, Georgia, stands out. HOLC staff members, using data and evaluations organized by local real estate professionals--lenders, developers, and real estate appraisers--in each city, assigned grades to residential neighborhoods that reflected their "mortgage security" that would then be visualized on color-coded maps. HOLC assumed and insisted that the residency of African Americans and immigrants, as well as working-class whites, compromised the values of homes and the security of mortgages.  "Redlining," derived from these color-coded HOLC maps, maps to health inequalities in many cities today.  Explore HOLC maps and the larger project through this site.

Free, big databases for downloadable primary sources

Turn to these free online primary sources:
Medical Heritage Library
A consortium of medical libraries, including Yale, have put parts of their collections available online.  Over 300,000 freely downloadable primary source books, many from 1780-1923.  On the Medical Heritage Library website, under the Content tab, you can find American and State medical society journals.

National Library of Medicine (NLM) Historical Collections
Great primary history of medicine material, including digitized books, images, archives, and moving images (aka movies). Includes the Health Policy and Services Research collection, with reports on health policy.

Internet Archive
Home to a huge variety of resources, including Moving Pictures, for free use.  Not limited to history of medicine or urban health, but lots of possible primary sources here.  Make sure, if you pick a source from here, that it's uploaded by a library or other institution!  You can find movies like Right to Health: Neighborhood Health Centers in Profile, A (1969).

-ALSO look at the Office of Minority Health Resource Center's digitized books on various race related health topics.

Hathi Trust
A huge online repository of freely downloadable books and journals, from a collaboration of libraries including Yale.  Not limited to history of medicine or urban health, but lots of possible primary sources here.

Digital Public Library of America
This site pulls in sources and archives (like letters and diaries) from many libraries, museums, and other institutions, as well as big databases like Hathi Trust and Internet Archive.  Look at the primary sources sets and exhibitions on broad themes, including race.

Social Welfare History Library
Research materials related to this history include the papers, records and publications of individuals, local volunteer groups, national private organizations, and the state and federal government agencies that have provided and regulated social services. Charity groups and social welfare organizations often work on behalf of people whose voices have not been heard widely in American history. Therefore, the archives of social welfare history serve as a resource for learning more about women, children, minorities, immigrant and refugees, the elderly, the poor and persons with disabilities.

The Grey Literature Report
This database is a comprehensive collection of urban health resources produced by The New York Academy of Medicine between 1999 and 2016.  The materials in the Greylit Report database include health and science policy, public health, health of vulnerable and special populations (i.e. children, women, uninsured, elderly) and those areas of general medicine and disease in which the Academy has research interests.

PubMed is a huge medical database comprising more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.  PubMed Central is a free digital repository that archives open access full-text scholarly articles that have been published in biomedical and life sciences journals.  This includes titles like the Journal for the National Medical Association, which is the major organization representing "interests of physicians and patients of African descent," and the Journal of Urban Health (1998-present. Anything before 1998 is the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine).

Topical primary source sites

This is a selected list of sites related to topics on the history of medicine and health, with some focus on race and medicine.  This is by no means everything!