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About the William Osler Letter Collection

Osler ReadingSir William Osler (1849-1919) is one of the most renowned and respected physicians in medical history. Born in Bond Head, Ontario in 1849, he studied medicine at McGill University and went on to teach at McGill and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1889 he was one of the "Big Four" founders of the Johns Hopkins Medical School and Hospital. He became Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University in 1905 and was knighted in 1911 in recognition of his contributions to medical science and teaching.

Harvey Cushing (1869-1939) was a pioneering neurosurgeon and close friend to Sir William Osler. Upon Osler's death in 1919, Dr. Cushing undertook to write his biography at Lady Osler’s request. Between 1920 and 1924, Dr. Cushing collected over 7 000 letters to and from Sir William, notes and excerpts from manuscripts. Many of these were copied and the originals returned to their owners. In 1925 Cushing published the two-volume Life of Sir William Osler, which won the Pulitzer Prize the following year. Dr. Cushing later donated his research material to the Osler Library. 

These materials, especially the letters, are an important source for Oslerian research. This online index provides access to information about materials that was previously only available to on-site visitors. It is intended to increase awareness and use of this rich collection.

The letters and other documents indexed on this site are part of a larger collection of Oslerian material in the Harvey Cushing Fonds (P417). Photos collected by Cushing and others are available in digital format online at the William Osler Photo Collection. The index also includes original Osler material from other archival collections and fonds, including the Sir William Osler Collection (P100), the Malloch Family Fonds (P107), and the Maude Abbott Collection (P111). Researchers can contact the Osler Library for more information.

Osler Library of the History of Medicine
McIntyre Medical Sciences Building, 3rd floor
McGill University
3655 Promenade Sir-William-Osler
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H3G 1Y6

Telephone: (514) 398-4475 ext.09873