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HIS 400: Pathogens & Disease in European History to 1800 [Fall 2015]

The source-driven junior paper

Often, the best work arises from close engagement with a primary source. As you read, you'll think of questions or begin to shape an argument. The hard part is to find a primary source that addresses the broad general area of interest. Here are some strategies for finding primary sources:

Finding editions and translations

To find editions and translations of a text, search for the author. Keep in mind that the names of many medieval authors do not fit modern ideas about naming practices. You may need to do some keyword searching to find out what catalogers call your author, e.g.

  • Ibn Batuta, 1304-1377
  • Mandeville, John, Sir
  • Bridget, of Sweden, Saint, ca. 1303-1373

Anonymous works may be known only by their titles, e.g.

  • Codex Calixtinus
  • Peutinger table

Although these are now badly out-of-date, it can be helpful to look in:

Bibliography of English translations from medieval sources. Farrar, Clarissa Palmer. New York, Columbia University Press, 1946.
Trustee Reading Room (DR) Z6517 .F3

Bibliography of English translations from medieval sources, 1943-1967. Mary Anne Heyward Ferguson. New York, Columbia University Press, 1974.
Trustee Reading Room  (DR)Z6517 .F47


Some ideas

Black death [microform] : sources concerning the European plague
Microfilm 09692
34 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms RC178.A1 B522
Rare printed sources from the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel, ca. 1470-1822. Covers Germany, France, Italy, England, Switzerland and Central Europe. Includes treatises "giving suggestions, instructions and advice; short accounts of the particular sufferings of individual cities, towns or villages; recipes for treatments; notes on experiments; and historical recipes observations looking at the origins, causes and effects of The Plague." See the contents of Part 1, 1470-1621 and Part 2, 1622-1824.

Women and medicine [microform]: remedy books, 1533-1865
RECAP Microfilm 11860 35 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms RS131.28 .W66 2004
Consists of about 260 manuscript recipe books compiled by women, from the collections of the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, London. The books contain cookery, medical, and miscellaneous household recipes.