Osler Society Medical Students’ Essay Contest Open!

Osler Library Board of Curators' medal

Osler Library Board of Curators’ medal

Medical students at McGill are invited to explore the historical, social, ethical, and humanistic side of their field thanks to an essay contest established by the Medical Students’ Osler Society and the Board of Curators of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, and endowed through a generous gift by Pam and Rolando Del Maestro.

The essay contest gives undergraduate medical students the opportunity to explore any theme of interest to them in the history, social studies, sociology, ethics, and humanities of the health sciences. It also provides them with the chance to be mentored by an expert in their topic drawn from the Library’s Board of Curators or elsewhere to complete their project, and to use the rich resources of the Osler Library and other libraries at McGill.

Medical students have found that the contest has allowed them to broaden their understanding of medicine in ways that go far beyond the curriculum.

Initial proposals are due May 2nd! For more information see https://www.mcgill.ca/library/branches/osler/essay-contest.

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 osler.library@mcgill.ca.

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

Happy Birthday Sir William!

 The baptismal font in Trinity Church, Bond Head, Ontario, where Sir William Osler was baptized by his father, Featherstone Lake Osler.

The baptismal font in Trinity Church, Bond Head, Ontario, where Sir William Osler was baptized by his father, Featherstone Lake Osler.

Sir William Osler was born on this date in 1849.  Readers may not be aware of the fact that his father, the Reverend Featherstone Lake Osler, originally wanted to name him Walter, in recognition of an English benefactor of his ministry in the wilds of Canada.  Given that he was born on July 12th, however, it was decided to name him in honour of King William of Orange, the British monarch who defeated the Catholic Stuarts in the Battle of the Boyne on July 12th, 1690.

In many parts of Canada, including Bond Head, Ontario where Sir William was born, Irish Protestants belonging to the Orange Lodge celebrated the “Glorious Twelfth” with parades.  When the one in Bond Head arrived at the Osler parsonage in 1849, the assembled Orangemen insisted that the baby boy be named after their beloved King Billy.  Perhaps Featherstone felt it best not to argue with them.

Want to learn more about the history of one of the world’s most illustrious physicians?  Check out our Osleriana guide to online resources.  You can also browse through our William Osler Photo Collection, which contains numerous images and information about all stages of Osler’s life.  There is an entry for Sir William Osler in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and Edith Gitting Reid’s short biography The Great Physician is available through the Internet Archive.  Of course, the Osler Library has a  large number of biographies of Sir William that you can consult or borrow.

Happy Glorious Twelfth!