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Sir William Osler (1849-1919) is one of the most renowned and respected physicians in medical history. 

This site provides an index of the thousands of letters to and from Sir William Osler and other material collected by Dr. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939) for his 1925 biography The Life of William Osler. It also provides information on other Osler letters found in various archival fonds held by the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University.

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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
Email: osler.library@mcgill.ca

Contact us

Contact UsFor more information, including requests for copies of items, please contact the Osler Library at:

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
Email: osler.library@mcgill.ca

How to access the material

Osler Access

This database serves as a searchable index to the letters of William Osler and other material by or about Osler collected by his biographer Harvey Cushing. It includes information about the recipient and sender, and the year and place of writing. Please note that full text is not provided. The index is made available to researchers in order to more easily identify relevant primary sources.

Those wishing to receive copies of the full letters or other items should contact the Osler Library at:

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
Email: osler.library@mcgill.ca

For each request, please state the purpose of your request and quote the ID number (e.g. CUS417/89.4).  Please note that reproduction charges will apply.

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