Sir William Osler Collection

Dublin Core


Sir William Osler Collection


Sir William Osler (1849-1919) remains one of the world’s most revered physicians, and his works are prized by medical libraries. His most famous and influential publication is the textbook of internal medicine, The principles and practice of medicine, which first appeared in 1892. After Osler’s death, subsequent editions of this fundamental textbook were edited and revised by Thomas McCrae and then Henry A. Christian until 1947, with an estimated 500,000 copies printed.
In 1935, Dr. Henry Rouse Viets (1890-1969) presented the Boston Medical Library with a collection of 21 different issues and states of The principles and practice of medicine, English-language editions as well as foreign translations, supplementing the library’s already considerable holdings of this work. The Osler Collection now contains a virtually complete set of copies and issues of all sixteen editions, along with copies of British editions, and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese translations, and even the pirated 4th British edition of 1901. Additional Osleriana titles were acquired in 1955 by the gift of Dr. Joseph Hersey Pratt (1872-1956), who had studied with Osler at Johns Hopkins in the 1890s. The Pratt gift includes autographed copies of some of Osler’s other works, as well as a number of rare medical titles with presentation inscriptions to Pratt from Osler himself.

Collection Items

The principles and practice of medicine
Drawn from the fifth and sixth English editions, this translation of Osler’s textbook by medical missionary Dr. Philip B. Cousland (1861-1930) is the first issue of the first Chinese edition; copies of a second (1921) and third (1925) edition…

An attempt to investigate some obscure and undecided doctrines in relation to small-pox, varioloid and vaccination
The endpapers of this short work on smallpox vaccination contain a bookplate of Dr. Addison Marshall Clark (1857-1919), an Ohio surgeon, along with an 1894 inscription from Dr. Howard A. Kelly (1853-1943), presenting it to William Osler as “a…
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