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National Library of Medicine Announces Addition of Sir William Osler Papers to Profiles in Science

Sir William Osler (1849–1919) was the best-known physician of his era. Today, he is recognized as one of the founders of modern science-based medicine. Born to Anglican missionaries in the Canadian frontier territory north of Toronto, Ontario, Osler was inspired to pursue a medical career by two early mentors, a clergyman and a physician who introduced him to natural science and to humanistic literature. When he began his training in 1868, few American medical schools included courses in laboratory sciences or required that students work with actual patients; standards of medical practice were often loose, and physician competence varied widely. During his long career, Osler was a driving force in modernizing medical practice and education. Among many other achievements, he revolutionized American medical education with the clinical internship program he instituted at the new Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in which senior students worked in hospital wards full time to "learn medicine at the bedside."

Now available from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library and a constituent institute of the National Institutes of Health, is an extensive selection of digitized materials from the papers of Sir William Osler. This presentation is made possible in collaboration with the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University and the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, both of which are repositories of William Osler collections. The William Osler Papers on Profiles in Science® features digitized primary historical materials, including correspondence, published articles, notebook excerpts, report drafts, and photographs selected from these collaborating institutions.

Established in 1998, Profiles in Science is an NLM digital project that provides online access to the archival collections of more than 30 Nobel Laureates and other leading innovators in scientific and medical fields, such as genetics and genetic engineering, pediatric surgery, AIDS and infectious diseases, and biological warfare.

Further, with the launch of this new collection the National Library of Medicine begins a new effort to share with the world the richness of its vast historical collections, including those on Profiles in Science, using the social media platform Pinterest. Using Pinterest, visitors can now freely explore and share Profiles in Science collections organized around themes such as "Women in Science" and "Life outside the lab." Follow us at!

Photograph of William Osler

Sir William Osler at the American Women's War Hospital, Paignton, England, 1915.
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, William Osler Photo Collection

The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest library of the health sciences and a component of the National Institutes of Health. NLM collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals, and the public.

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