As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Think cold-and-flu-season is treating you badly? Check this out.

I haven’t posted in the past few days because the plague descended on my home.  Well actually, it was just a respiratory virus. Still, it gave me fodder for today’s entry: a brief rundown on a compilation of material describing what ailed mankind. That collection, one of the highlights of Harvard University’s Open Collections program, is titled Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics.

 That digital collection is focused around nine significant episodes of contagious disease.  Those outbreaks span the centuries, from the pestilence of the late 15th century, to the North American Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. According to the collection’s website, Contagion features digitized copies of books, serials, pamphlets, incunabula, and manuscripts—a total of more than 500,000 pages.  Many of those textual items also feature visual materials, such as plates, engravings, maps, charts, broadsides, and other illustrations. The collection also includes two unique sets of visual materials from the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard’s Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The image above is part of that collection and shows the title page of A Narrative of the Method and Success of Inoculating the Small-Pox in New England, 1722.  That work is from the holdings of Houghton Library at Harvard.

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