Answered By: John Harvard
Last Updated: Dec 23, 2016     Views: 100

Note: in history, secondary sources (current journal articles, books, etc.) give the arguments of other historians, providing background and placing your idea within current historical debates. Primary sources (manuscripts, newspapers, objects, period journal articles, books, etc.) serve as evidence for your argument.


To improve your results in HOLLIS+, Academic Search Premier, and other multidisciplinary resources, try adding some of the following terms:

  • For secondary sources
    • “history”
    • time period terms (17th, 1066-1485, "World War, 1914-1918")
  • For primary sources
    • material types (sources, archives, correspondence)
    • publication date: look for a date slider or advanced search page.



History of Science, Technology, and Medicine includes books, book chapters, and journal articles on the history of science. See Fred and Emily’s guidance on the use of this complex database.

PubMed (1947- ) is the National Library of Medicine's index to biomedical journal articles. --Be sure to look at the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) on pertinent records found with a keyword search by opening "+MeSH Terms". (You must have a record that says: "Indexed for Medline" to do this.)  Tip: for some History of Science research, you can use advanced search  with "History" as a MeSH term")

Countway Library of Medicine has a PubMed tutorial; the National Library of Medicine has lots of helpful information as well.

Web of Science (1900- ) articles in all areas of science. Includes medical articles not in PubMed. You can use the Cited Reference search in the Web of Science to find primary source articles that cite a specified article, thus getting an idea of its reception. More information.


There are two library liaisons for History of Science: Fred Burchsted.and Emily Bell

Their History of Science research guide explains how the disciplines are defined and how to find important resources. The pages listing subject encyclopedias and dictionaries are a good place to start.


I need to do some research in History. Where should I start?

Is there some sort of catalog of Harvard's historical scientific instruments?


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