Archival updates

ArchboxesWe’ve made a few additions to our archival database so far this summer and have a couple newer fonds described.

Two fonds have been updated to include recent accruals: the Canadian Health Libraries Association/ Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada fonds and the Osler Society of Montreal fonds.

The Jonathan Campbell Meakins fonds now has an online, searchable inventory list! The old (handwritten!) item-level descriptions are still available in the library if you need more detailed information, but we hope the online version will make things easier to discover. J. C. Meakins was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill from 1941-1948, among various other positions, and author of “The Practice of Medicine.”

Added to our collection of medical student notebooks is the Clement C. Clay fonds. Clement Clay was a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and a graduate of McGill. During World War II, he served as a Lieutenant and later Commander in the medical corps of the United States Naval Reserve. In 1943 and 1944, he was sent by the Surgeon General to North Africa, Italy, and England on a special mission to study the handling of casualties and gather other information on military medical service in these countries. In 1944 he was able to study infection control measures during an outbreak of typhus in Naples.

And finally, we have a new collection of World War I letters in the Helen Drake fonds. She trained as a nurse at the Royal Victorian Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1907. The fonds contains many letters written while she was in Europe with the Canadian Army Medical Core from McGill during the war.


For more information, please feel free to contact the library at

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

New subject guide

microscopesThe McGill Library subject guides are your first stop for finding out how to search for resources in your subject area. Each one lists periodical databases that are especially relevant for particular subjects; dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other places to go for background information; and things like other catalogues and internet resources. We’re offering a new subject guide related to the history of medicine all about Osleriana.  Find here biographies, some digitized works, links to digital photograph collections, and more.

(Note: History of Medicine is categorized under the Health and Biological Sciences, rather than Humanities.)


McGill class of 1913

Fresh off of convocation 2013 (see photos here), I thought we’d take a look at McGill grads from 1913.

In 1913…

the McGill Daily was 2 years oldDaily

women’s ties were apparently the height of fashionwomensties

William Osler had recently been knighted and had a new publication out: “The Evolution of Modern Medicine”osler

the Faculty of Medicine had a new, state-of-the-art buildingFacultyofMed2

and there was promising student research in “electricity in medicine” (hint: Hot Air Hutton) electricityinmedicine

Images from the McGill Yearbooks digitization project.


Some new titles for May

OslerNiche_BooksSmaller copyInterested in some historical summer reading? Here are some ideas from our new acquisitions from last month:


Ways of regulating drugs in the 19th and 20th centuries / edited by Jean-Paul Gaudillière and  Volker Hess. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

The essays assembled in this volume share the perspective that the historiography of science, technology, and medicine, therefore, needs a broader approach toward regulation; an approach taking into account the distinct social worlds involved in regulation, the forms of evidence and expertise mobilized, and the means of intervention chosen in order to tame drugs in factories, offices, consulting rooms and courts. Focusing on case studies, the volume explores the ‘ways of regulating drugs’, which surfaced in the 19th and 20th century, and play a central role in the present world of science, market and medicine.

Includes a contribution by McGill Social Studies of Medicine prof Alberto Cambrosio (with Peter Keating and Andrei Mogoutov ): “What’s in a Pill? On the Informational Enrichment of Anti-Cancer Drugs.”


The identity of the history of science and medicine / Andrew Cunningham. Farnham, Surrey, England ; Burlington, VT. : Ashgate Variorum, c2012.

From the publisher’s website:

In these essays, Andrew Cunningham is concerned with issues of identity – what was the identity of topics, disciplines, arguments, diseases in the past, and whether they are identical with (more usually, how they are not identical with) topics, disciplines, arguments or diseases in the present. Historians usually tend to assume such continuous identities of present attitudes and activities with past ones, and rarely question them; the contention here is that this gives us a false image of the very things in the past that we went to look for.


The great Manchurian plague of 1910-1911 : the geopolitics of an epidemic disease / William C. Summers. New Haven : Yale University Press, c2012.

The  Manchurian plague (or “third pandemic”) was a severe episode of bubonic plague that began in southwest China in the 1850s. Check out a review of this book from the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 68, no. 2 (April 2013) [McGill users only]


Remèdes, onguents, poisons : une histoire de la pharmacie / sous la direction d’Yvan Brohard ; préface et postface d’Axel Kahn. Paris : Université Paris Descartes : Éditions de la Martinière, 2012.

Full of anecdotes and alchemy! Find a discussion with the author Yvan Brohard on the history of pharmacy and medication on the radio show La tête au carré on France Inter.


Inventing intelligence : how America came to worship IQ / Elaine E. Castles. Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, c2012.

Written by a clinical psychologist, this book traces the rise of the IQ test as the key measure of mental capacity, as well as describing historical initiatives to quantify intelligences (phrenology, anyone?). Have a look at a more detailed description on the publisher’s website.


Homöopathie in der DDR : die Geschichte der Homöopathie in der Sowjetischen Besatzungszone und der DDR 1945 bis 1989 ; Hans-Walz-Preisschrift / Anne Nierade. Essen : KVC Verlag, c2012.

This book uncovers the history of homeopathy in the German Democratic Republic. Published as the 2011 winner of a book prize in the history of homeopathy sponsored by the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany, this book explores homeopathy as a popular lay medical tradition.


P.S. Ever wondered how to find book reviews? Find some tips here.