Osler Library, History of Medicine, McGill University

The Osler Library for the History of Medicine at McGill University is Canada’s foremost scholarly resource in the history of medicine and one of the more important libraries of its kind in North America.

The Osler Library has a collection of 8000 works relating to the history of medicine much of it donated by Osler himself. In fact, Osler’s ashes are kept in the library as a memorial. The library’s website provides an overview of its collections and describes its holdings of archives, manuscripts, incunabula, portraits and artefacts. Online access to the Library catalogue is available through McGill’s central library catalogue. The site also provides easy access to the Osler Library newsletter and a range of other library publications, including the Osler Library Studies in the History of Medicine series. The newsletter is accompanied by an author and subject index. The site hosts a number of virtual exhibitions relating to the life of William Osler and the Osler Library.

The Osler collection is one of the most extensive in the world, ranging from Sumerian tablets to medieval Arabic manuscripts.

Holdings & services

The Library comprises a circulating/reference collection of secondary literature and journals on the history of the health sciences, as well as a collection of primary materials (pre-1914).

The collection of historic volumes assembled by the Library has grown to close to 100,000 volumes. The archives and manuscript collections are devoted to Osler and the history of medicine at McGill University, Quebec and Canada. Decriptions of archival collections can be browsed at http://osler.library.mcgill.ca/archives. Services included reference, interlibrary loan, image reproductions, tours, and a visiting fellowship for scholars. Databases have been developed to find our collection of almanacs (http://osler.library.mcgill.ca/almanacs) and reprints (http://osler.library.mcgill.ca/reprints/) and an index of Canadian medical obituaries (http://osler.library.mcgill.ca/cfstand/).

See also David S. Crawford, Famous physicians in history and William Osler


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