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LAST UPDATE: June 10, 2013

People's Epidemiology Library

History of Epidemiologic Ideas, Methods, and Concepts

Table of Contents


What is Epidemiology?

B. FIVE MAIN TOPICS IN EPIDEMIOLOGY (historical papers and commentaries included)

How to count? [papers on risk, rate, prevalence and incidence]

How to set up comparisons [including papers on cohort studies, case-control studies and other types of study designs]

Errors in measurements and comparisons[including papers about bias]

What do epidemiologists see as causes? [including papers about causality]

How to deal with multiple causes [including papers about confounding and interaction]

C. Textbooks

D. Biographies

E. VOICES (Epidemiology)

F. Debates and Controversies

G. REPRINTS AND REFLECTIONS (International Journal of Epidemiology)

H. Greenland: Evolution of Epidemiologic Ideas


Other Websites on the History of Epidemiology

The Wade Hampton Frost Collection (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions):

The Dr. John Snow Site (Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles)

The James Lind Library (The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh)

The Delta Omega Public Health Classics (Honorary Society in Public Health) 

A History of Cardiovacsular Disease Epidemiology by the University of 
Minessota School of Public Health. Interesting videos.


Advisory Board

Alison G Abraham, PhD, MHS, MS, Bloomberg School of Public Health,
Department of Epidemiology, Baltimore, MD.

Arash Etemadi, MD PhD
Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Washington D.C.

Stephen Walter, BS, ARCS, PhD, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster, Hamilton, ON.

Rachel Widome, PhD, MHS, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health
University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN.

Honghong Zhu, MD, PhD, MHS, Division of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, Saint Louis, MO.

NEW: Complete series essays by Professor Stephen Walter, Winner of the People's Epidemiology Library Essay Contest (read The EpiMonitor about this)

About us

The People's Epidemiologic Library is an initiative of Alfredo Morabia, of the Mailman School of Public Health and Queens College, City University of New York, USA, and Jan P Vandenbroucke of Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Since its establishment in 2009, the aim of this virtual library has been to bring together documents and essays about the development of epidemiologic methods over the ages. The initial sources were the references and essays of Alfredo Morabia's book, “A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts”. However, the material was greatly enriched by additional individual entries as well as permission grants to link and copy several existing resources:

•  The “Reprints and Reflections” and “Debates and Controversies” sections from the International Journal of Epidemiology

•  The “VOICES” section from Epidemiology

•  The introductions from the book, “Evolution of Epidemiologic Ideas,” edited by Sander Greenland.

•  A number of key biographies

•  Scanned content pages of notable textbooks

Our aim is to provide a resource for all purposes. This includes supplying as many important papers on the history of epidemiologic methods as possible, either in the form of pdfs or links, and to add commentaries by leading epidemiologists.

The idea for this library grew through deliberations among editors of the James Lind Library (Editor: Sir Iain Chalmers). Like this site, the JLL is a virtual library, but is singularly devoted to the history of fair tests of treatment. The JLL grew from the website, "Controled Clinical Trials in History," founded in 1998. It has both an academic and a public outlook. The People's Epidemiologic Library, first and foremost, seeks to build a strong academic backbone, and has the potential to grow into an invaluable resource for the general public. The JLL and the PEL are sibling websites and their editors collaborate.

(CC) All material specifically written for the People's Epidemiology Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License . For all other material (e.g., pdfs, links to pdfs, scans), we trust that our visitors will use the material to support research and teaching, and not for commercial purposes.

Contact us: Here






American College of Epidemiology Logo

We would like to thank the American College of Epidemiology for funding the expansion of this website. We have provided a structured bibliography of the History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts, which includes a Medline and PDF link for each document. We understand that the structure of this website is somewhat out-of-date, and are hoping that future funding will allow us to improve the design. Please feel free to send us any comments or suggestions you may have regarding the website.