Scope and Content
Title: Sir William Osler Papers
Collection Number: mssOsler
Osler, William, Sir,
231 items in 1 box
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Fax: (626) 449-3477
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of
physician Sir William Osler (1849-1919), who helped found Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
and served as Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford University, chiefly consisting
Language of Material: The records are in English.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material,
nor does it charge fees for such activities.
The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with
[Identification of item]. Sir William Osler Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
On long-term loan from the Los Angeles County Medical Association, 1992.
Born in 1849, Sir William Osler rose through the ranks of professional medicine
eventually becoming one of the world's most renowned physicians. As chair of
clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1885, he helped found the
American Association of Physicians. Later, in 1893, he helped establish the Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1905, he was appointed the Regius Chair of
Medicine at Oxford University, where, in 1911, he received the honorary title of
Throughout his career as an instructor, Osler developed a philosophy of medicine
based on equal parts science and humanism. He insisted students talk and listen
directly to patients, supplementing their classroom education with participatory
residencies in hospital wards. Meanwhile, his many publications, including the much
The Principles and Practices of
(1892), significantly contributed to the professionalization of
medicine in the late nineteenth century.
In addition to his medical career, Osler gained fame for his wit and humor. He
published several satirical articles under the pseudonym, "Egerton Yorrick Davis."
During his farewell speech at John Hopkins, he infamously suggested retired men
should be chloroformed instead of burdening society. The self-deprecating remark
made national headlines, sparked debate, and further elevated Osler's notoriety.
Scope and Content
Correspondence forms the bulk of the Sir William Osler papers. These letters span the period
from 1893-1939. They include Osler's own correspondence with his former student,
C.N.B. Camac, concerning Camac's career and Osler's work. The collection also
records the conversations between Osler and the prominent physicians William Sydney
Thayer, and Henry Barton Jacobs. Also included are the letters exchanged between
Camac, Harvey Cushing, and Lady Grace Revere Gross Osler about William Osler's
career and the publishing of his biography. These letters reveal the inner workings
of a dedicated scholar and the devotion of his students. Several letters detail the
European travels of the Oslers, including postcards from Italy and France and ocean
liners such as the Lusitania. Others discuss medical issues ranging from aneurisms
to trypanosomiasis and Osler's passion for collecting rare books. There is one
folder of miscellaneous correspondence and one letter book of Osler's.
One folder includes collected ephemera, mainly newspaper clippings. This material
highlights Osler's public persona and medical expertise. A number of obituaries and
memorials describe Osler's profound contribution to modern, Western medicine.
The collection is arranged by type. The majority of the collection is
correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by author.
Osler, William, Sir, 1849-1919
Medicine - History - 19th century - Sources
Medicine - History - 20th century - Sources
Medicine - Study and teaching - United States
Physicians - United States - Correspondence
Clippings (information artifacts)
Letter books - United States - 19th century
Letter books - United States - 20th century
Camac, C.N.B. (Charles Nicoll Bancker), 1868-1940
Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939
Davis, Egerton Yorrick
Jacobs, Henry Barton, 1858-1939, addressee
Osler, Grace Revere Gross, Lady
Thayer, William Sydney, 1864-1932, addressee