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Genealogy: Medical History

Tracing Your Family’s Medical History with Genealogical Resources

Collecting Medical Information

Why Collect Medical Information?
•To better understand the lives of the people you are researching
• To learn about the medical challenges of the time period  (e.g., epidemics)
• To note possible family risks and predispositions for certain diseases and conditions
Getting Started

Ask your family members about family stories

Look for death records (see Vital Records)

Things to Look For in Records

Diseases and Epidemics

For your family health history, add inheritable diseases and risk factors:

•Sickle-cell anemia

For looking at social history, add:

•Childbirth complications (Puerperal causes *)

 * relating to, or occurring during childbirth or the period immediately following

Epidemics: Guides

Epidemics: Specific Diseases

Subject Librarian

Rebecca Knight's picture
Rebecca Knight
Associate librarian
Reference and Instructional Services Department
Morris Library, Room 117H

Subjects: U.S. Government Information,
Delaware, census, family studies, RefWorks, APA style, and genealogy.

B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.

Educational Resources

Tracing Hemophilia

Leading Causes of Death, Then and Now

The 10 leading causes accounted for 74.1% of all deaths in the United States.

Mortality in the United States, 2016. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).


Leading Causes of Death, 1900-1998 - CDC (

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Created for the Library Workshop: Tracing Your Family’s Medical History with Genealogical Resources. Presenters: Rebecca Knight, Associate Librarian, and Linda Stein, Librarian, Reference and Instructional Services Department.

November 15, 2016