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Pandemics & Epidemics: A Topic & Resource Guide

Introduction to this Guide

Dec. 6, 1918, issue of the Fort Wayne Sentinel. (No signature nor attribution found)

The guide is intended to serve multiple purposes:

  • It is designed for browsing and exploration. 

  • It is a place to get started on research about epidemics and pandemics in history, politics, the arts, and the sciences. 

  • We also hope it will provide resources to help members of our community understand and navigate the current and evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Use the navigation bar on the left hand side to move through the sections and subsections..  Many titles include a description, which can be revealed by mousing over the information symbol to the right of title.  Book covers are also included when available. 

A note about the selection of titles and order they appear: most of the titles that are included are owned by the Library in either print form or as an  eBook; in some cases there may be no print copy, but a link to the Internet Archive's Open Library. They are ordered informally, mostly with the books about general topics first and than grouped by sub-topic, time period and/or geography.

Please note that the guide does not include any articles, but we've included a set of databases for additional research on the topics presented in this guide. 

Lastly, this guide will be evolving over time.  We will be adding to it and we welcome suggestions.  Please send any comments or recommendations to Adam Rosenkranz


"The amount of a particular disease that is usually present in a community is referred to as the baseline or endemic level of the disease. This level is not necessarily the desired level, which may in fact be zero, but rather is the observed level. In the absence of intervention and assuming that the level is not high enough to deplete the pool of susceptible persons, the disease may continue to occur at this level indefinitely. ...While some diseases are so rare in a given population that a single case warrants an epidemiologic investigation (e.g., rabies, plague, polio), other diseases occur more commonly so that only deviations from the norm warrant investigation. Sporadic refers to a disease that occurs infrequently and irregularly. Endemic refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area... Hyperendemic refers to persistent, high levels of disease occurrence. Occasionally, the amount of disease in a community rises above the expected level. Epidemic refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area. Outbreak carries the same definition of epidemic, but is often used for a more limited geographic area.... Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people." 

-- "Epidemic Disease Occurrence"-from Principles of Epidemiology in Public Heath Practice, Third Edition: An Introduction to Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics" , https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section11.html (accessed April 4, 2021)

Pandemics - General

History: Global Histories  / Histories by Continent and Time Period

HIstory: The Ancient and Medieval World

HIstory: Africa
HIstory: Asia
HIstory: Europe
HIstory: Latin America and The Caribbean
HIstory: Middle East

HIstory: Canada and the US

General Sciences & Epidemiology

Policy, Politics & Law

Cultural, Social & Intellectual Histories

Arts and Humanities Librarian

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Adam Rosenkranz
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