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.