Reminder: March 1st deadline for Osler research travel awards

Please note that the Osler Library is accepting applications until March 1st, 2015 for the Mary Louise Nickerson Fellowship (up to 10,000$) and the Dr. Dimitrije Pivnicki Award (up to 4,000$). Both are directed towards researchers working in the field of neuro history to enable them to travel to Montreal to use the extensive resources of the Osler Library (including the Wilder Penfield Archive), as well as those of the McGill University Archives and the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Please follow the links above for information on how to apply.


New Issue of Osler Library Newsletter Available Online


Although the Osler Library has been undergoing renovations, we have still been hard at work helping researchers, collecting great material, receiving donations (more later) and issuing the latest issue of the Osler Library Newsletter. There are obituaries for two graduates of McGill Medicine 1945, both with very close ties to the Library; Dr. William Feindel, long-time honourary Osler Librarian and Curator, and Dr. Marian Kelen, who grew up surrounded by the books in Oxford while her father, Dr. W.EW. Francis, catalogued Osler collection.

The renovations continue. We should have an update as to when our collections will be accessible again, although we do have some items in Rare Books. And of course, we are still here serving the history of medicine community.

Osler Library Renovations April-October 2014

A major renovation of the McIntyre Medical Building’s HVAC infrastructure is underway. This project, funded through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, involves extensive roof work directly above the Osler Library as well as a replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems throughout the Library and the McIntyre Building.

In order to protect the Osler collection, the rare and circulating collections from the Osler Library of the History of Medicine will be relocated to a secure, environmentally controlled storage area. The Library and the collection will be inaccessible from April 1 to October 2014. Library users are encouraged to borrow circulating materials needed for research or teaching purposes and to request any rare materials prior to April 1st. The requested rare items will be temporarily moved to McGill Library’s Rare Books and Special Collection and made accessible to researchers in the reading room.

After April 1st, McGill users may request material through Interlibrary Loans. Osler staff members will also help to find alternative material.

Please note that the Osler Library will continue to offer other services to researchers and students during the renovations, including reference and course support.

For more information please call 514-398-4475 ext. 09873 or email

We apologise for any inconvenience.

2013 Winners of the Osler Society and Osler Library Board of Curators Essay Contest

Osler Essay finalists with medal and Dr Del Maestro

Osler Essay finalists with medal and Dr Del Maestro

In 2013 the Board of Curators of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine together with the McGill Medical Students’ Osler Society launched an essay contest and invited medical students to explore the historical, ethical, social and humanistic side of medicine. Twenty students submitted proposals and were matched with mentors drawn from the Library’s Board of Curators or elsewhere. Eight students submitted 3,000 word essays and short reflective pieces, from which three finalists were selected and presented their research on Osler Day, November 6th, 2013.

The three essay winners were:

First prize: Jennifer Pors for her essay Blood Ties: A History of Blood Transfusion. Her mentor was Professor Faith Wallis, History Professor and member of the Board of Curators. She received the Osler Board of Curators’ Medal and $1,000.

Second Prize: Julia Hickey for her essay The Predominance of Osler’s Humanism in the Practice of Palliative Care. Her mentors were Mrs. Eve Osler Hampson, a member of the library’s Board of Curators, and Dr. Thomas Hutchinson of the McGill Programs in Whole Person Care. She received $500.

Third Prize: Susan Mengxiao Ge for her essay Observation: The Importance of Art in Medicine. Her mentor was Dr. Jonathan Meakins of the Board of Curators. She received $250.

You can read the three finalists’ essays and their reflective pieces on the Osler Library website.

Dr. William Feindel, 1918-2014

Dr. William Feindel

We are sorry to announce the death of Dr. William Feindel, who passed away on Sunday, January 12th at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital after a brief illness.

Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, he received a B.A. in Biology from Acadia University in 1939, a M.Sc. from Dalhousie University in 1942, and an M.D., C.M. from McGill University in 1945.  He was then awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and earned his D. Phil From Oxford in 1949.

Dr. Feindel had a long and very illustrious career, spending many years with the Montreal Neurological Institute, where he founded the William Cone Laboratory for Neurosurgical Research and became the first William Cone Professor of Neurosurgery and then Director of the Institute from 1972 to 1984.

Dr Feindel  was a great lover of medical history and a mainstay of the Osler Library, serving as Honourary Osler Librarian, Curator of the Penfield Archive and as a member of the Board of Curators and its Standing Committee for a number of years.  His support and love for the library was second to none. He was also a true renaissance man and showed great musical ability and appreciation.

The library will very much miss his kind and generous presence, his wise advice and his vision, and extends its deepest sympathy to his family and friends

Some new books for December

OslerNiche_BooksSmaller copy

Welcome back! Start off the semester with a look at some of the new items we acquired last month.


Medical history education for health practitioners / Lisetta Lovett and Alannah Tomkins ; foreword by Paul Lazarus. London: Radcliffe Publishing, 2013.

The history of medicine and the development of the medical profession add beneficial context to medical education and have been integrated into curricula in different ways. This new book provides an overview of medical history designed specifically for students in medical fields, concentrating largely on the development of the medical profession. Find a review from the Nursing Standard here [McGill users only].


Autour de la médicalisation : perspectives historiques, pratiques et représentations (XVe-XXe siècles) / sous la direction de Joceline Chabot, Daniel Hickey et Martin Pâquet. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2012.

This collection explores the issue of medicalization, from the Middle Ages through the advent of laboratory medicine in the 20th century.

From the publisher’s website:

Autour de la médicalisation s’intéresse d’abord aux voies juridiques des activités médicales et paramédicales de la période médiévale à la révolution scientifique au XVIIIe siècle. Puis, l’ouvrage explore les contours de l’exercice des soins depuis le XIXe siècle, en s’intéressant plus précisément aux infirmières, ces praticiennes qui prennent soin de leurs patients. Dans un troisième temps, il étudie l’élaboration et la propagation de nouvelles règles et normes à l’époque contemporaine. Enfin, des contributions analytiques plus globales offrent une réflexion sur la médicalisation comme processus sociohistorique dans une perspective pluriséculaire.


Modern German midwifery, 1885-1960 / by Lynne Fallwell. London : Pickering & Chatto, 2013.

The end of the 19th century is generally considered to have seen a shift from traditional midwifery to medicalized childbirth overseen by male doctors. Fallwell’s examination of this shift in the German context adds a nuance to historical discussion, focusing on the efforts and participation of German midwives in the transition. From the series Studies for the Society for the Social History of Medicine.


The spaces of the hospital : spatiality and urban change in London, 1680-1820 / Dana Arnold. London: Routledge, 2013.

Architectural historian Dana Arnold explores the history of the hospital as a self-contained space and one that interacts with a complex metropolitan environment during a time of urban and demographic change. Eight London hospitals provide case studies.


Profiles of Science and “Great Man” Dr. Osler

The National Library of Medicine has just launched the section on William Osler on its Profiles in Science project, working in collaboration with the Osler Library and the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins. Profiles in Science is designed to make digitized documents and photographs of leading medical researchers available online.

And have a look at this excellent entry on the NLM’s blog Circulating Now on the inclusion of William Osler, and one historian’s newfound appreciation for the man behind the myth:

He was legendary during his lifetime, and for nearly a century, he’s been practically a deity in some medical circles. Often called the “father of modern medicine,” and the “greatest physician of all time,” his name is still spoken and his words quoted in reverent tones.


New archival collection: the Joseph Stratford Fonds


The library has finished processing the papers of Dr. Joseph Stratford. Dr. Stratford was born in Brantford, Ontario, in September of 1923. He began his studies in science at McGill University in 1943 and was the President of the McGill Osler Society and graduated from medical school in 1947. After training in England at the National Hospital in Queen Square, he completed his residency at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) under Dr. William Cone. In the 1960s, Stratford joined the Montreal General Hospital as Director of the Division of Neurosurgery at the behest of Dr. Rocke Robertson. There, Stratford participated in the development of a neurological intensive care ward, the McGill-MGH Pain Centre, and the Palliative Care Task Force.

This fonds consists of medical agendas and professional correspondence between Stratford and colleagues from the Montreal General Hospital, Montreal Neurological Institute, and elsewhere. It also includes personal research materials on the causes and treatments of pain, publications and drafts of publications, and daily appointment books.

For more information, please feel free to contact the library at Find out about other McGill physicians through our archival database.

Missed our guide to using the archives at the Osler Library? Have a look here.


Some new titles for November

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Settling in for a long winter’s nap? Not before some bedtime reading! Have a look at some of these, new in November.


The fabric of the human body : an annotated translation of the 1543 and 1555 editions / Andreas Vesalius; translated by Daniel H. Garrison and Malcolm H. Hast. Basel : Karger, 2014.

The year 2013 marks 500 years since the birth of Andreas Vesalius, the iconic Renaissance anatomist, whose De humani corporis fabrica is a monument in the history of medicine. This is a new translation of the book’s two editions and features essays by well-known historians of medicine Vivian Nutton and Nancy Siraisi.


Child workers and industrial health in Britain, 1780-1850 / Peter Kirby. Woodbridge, Suffolk : The Boydell Press, 2013.

What were the health effects on children of working in the textiles and mining industries as laborers during the Victorian period?

From the publisher’s website:

In this comprehensive study, Peter Kirby places the occupational health of employed children within a broad context of social, industrial and environmental change during the period 1780 to 1850. The book explores the deformities, fevers, respiratory complaints, industrial injuries and physical ill-treatment which have long been associated with child labour in the factory workplace. The result is a more nuanced picture of child health and child labour during the classic ‘factory age’ which raises important questions about the enduring stereotype of the health-impaired and abused industrial child.


Expériences de la folie : criminels, soldats, patients en psychiatrie (XIXe-XXe siècle) / sous la direction de Laurence Guignard, Hervé Guillemain, Stéphane Tison. Rennes : Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2013.

“ Sur 3 832 soldats soignés dans le service des psychoses du camp retranché de Paris au cours de l’année 1916, 
653 sont considérés comme des « alcooliques avancés »  ”. The authors of this collection look at patient experiences of psychiatric illness during the 19th and 20th centuries in connection with the judicial, military, and hospital systems that were defining what it meant to be “mentally ill.”


Toxicants, health and regulation since 1945 / edited by Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas. London : Pickering & Chatto, 2013.

The authors in this volume document the rise of environmental pollutants in the second half of the 20th century and regulatory efforts around the world to curtail them and manage risk. Find a review of this book in Social History of Medicine [McGill users only].


Too cold to head to the library? Have a look at what’s available on the history of medicine in Overdrive.


Mary Louise Nickerson Fellowship

The Osler Library is currently accepting applications to our Mary Louise Nickerson Fellowship. The fellowship was established in 2011 by Granville H. Nickerson, M.D., C.M., in honour and in memory of his wife, Mary Louise, who was an inspiration to many of Dr. Nickerson’s classmates of McGill’s Medicine Class of 1945.  The fellowship will allow a scholar to carry out research with the Neuro History archival and artifact collections at McGill University, the centrepiece of which is the Penfield Archive in the Osler Library, as well as other resources available at the Montreal Neurological Institute and the McGill University Archives. The Osler Library’s collections are listed in the McGill Library Catalogue and the Osler Library Archives Collection website.

Value varies depending on the project, to a maximum of $10,000.  More than one fellowship may be awarded during each fiscal year.  The fellow is required to carry out research in Montreal during the 2014-15 fiscal year (May 2014-April 2015).  May be renewable.

We invite applications from a variety of individuals, including graduate students, scholars and professionals.  Preference will be given to applicants spending at least one month in Montreal and who take advantage of the rare and unique materials held in the Osler Library and McGill University.  Fellows are required to submit a report of their work suitable for publication in the Osler Library Newsletter and may be requested to give a brief presentation at the University.

Please find full application instructions on our website.

All documentation must be received by February 1st, 2014.