Monday, December 9, 2013

Sir William Osler

Over the summer, I worked with Susan Speaker from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine(whew!) on a Profile in Science for Sir William Osler. The first thing I learned is that I’d been pronouncing his name wrong. It’s Oooosler, with a long O, not Ahhsler.

Sir William came to Baltimore in 1889 to become Physician in Chief at the newly-opened Johns Hopkins Medical School. It was during these first years in Baltimore that Osler began writing a medical textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine, which went into 16 editions and whose royalties supported him for the rest of his life.OSLER2

Sir William was elemental in the look of MedChi today. He worked hard to create a first class medical library and continued to donate books to it even after he moved to Oxford University. OslerThere were funds named in his honor and funds and books were contributed to MedChi through it. Osler noteHe was instrumental in hiring Marcia Noyes, the librarian who lived and worked at MedChi for 50 years. He was renowned for his love of books and there are many notes between Sir William and Marcia Noyes discussing various books. image

Sir William also did much to bridge the medical community in Baltimore. Hopkins had a practice of hiring “outsiders” and not local talent, and there was much resentment amongst the local medical community.

In our numerous images of Sir William, he never looks happy, but this is because he didn’t like to sit for portraits. He actually had quite a good sense of humor, and was a practical joker. Osler

During the last six months before Osler moved to England, he gave numerous lectures, attended dinners in his honor and received myriad accolades. Generally, he was exhausted by the time he left!

After his death, the honors continued with the Olser Historical Society.

osler historical society lecture 1936

osler historical society lecture 1936 2

To visit the NIH’s Profile in Science of Sir William Osler, please click here.

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