Get started with ‘A Medical History of British India’ with this Jupyter Notebook.

Whether or not you have experience programming or working with data, this Notebook will give you a starting point for analysing digitised text. Using Python and several of its libraries, including Pandas and Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK), the Notebook demonstrates how to:

– Load a folder of text (.TXT) files as a corpus

– Create meaningful subsets of the medical papers in the corpus

– Ask questions about the words, sentences, and topics discussed in the papers

Questions this Notebook can help you begin investigating include:

– How are the native Indian populations discussed?  Does this change over time?

– What was the colonial attitude towards prostitution?

– How does the focus of military medicine shift over time?

– How was medicine taught?

– What efforts were made to mitigate the spread of disease?

– What was the perception of people with mental illness?

Report on Plague in the Punjab

If you have never used a Jupyter Notebook before, we recommend visiting Tim Sherratt’s introduction to Jupyter Notebooks.

A note on the data

The text used in the Exploring A Medical History of British India Jupyter Notebook was digitised with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and then manually corrected. As a result, the text available for computational analysis is highly representative of the original, printed version of the text.

Due to the historical nature of the dataset (the papers included were published as early as 1850), the language includes terms or sentiments that are considered inappropriate today. The language of the papers does not reflect the values of the National Library of Scotland. Rather, the language of the papers reflects historical values that offer insight on historical perceptions of places and people.

Access the Notebook

Explore A Medical History of British India in one of three ways:

View in your browser

Open a static version of the Notebook in your browser.

Run an interactive version

Run an interactive version of the Notebook in Binder.

Please note that the interactive version may take several minutes to load.

Some code may not work fully when opened in Binder.

Download from GitHub

Download from GitHub to run locally on your machine with Jupyter Lab, Anaconda, or Miniconda.

Cite this Notebook


Dataset creator: National Library of Scotland

Dataset publisher: National Library of Scotland

Publication year: 2020

Suggested citation: National Library of Scotland. Exploring A Medical History of British India. National Library of Scotland, 2020.

Which dataset did this project use?

This project used A Medical History of British India: A Medical History of British India on the Data Foundry website