Scientist of the Day - William Osler
William Osler, a Canadian physician, died Dec. 29, 1919, at age 70. Osler has often been called the father of modern medicine, as he founded, with 3 others, the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1893 and introduced clinical training for medical students (the second image above shows Osler in clinical action at McGill). He later moved to Oxford University and became quite a revered figure there as well. But he is of interest here as being perhaps the quintessential example of a humanist physician. He was widely read in the classics and believed that a medical doctor should be educated in the widest sense, a student of literature and culture as well as medicine. He was an avid book collector and can justly be called a bibliophile, since he loved books, and loved talking and writing about books. The third image above shows Osler holding the Bodleian Library’s copy of Vesalius’ Six Tables (1538), and the photograph of Osler’s library at his Oxford home is further evidence of his love for books (fourth image).
There are two paintings at Johns Hopkins that show Osler. One, by Thomas Corner, depicts Osler alone (1905; first image). The other (fifth image) is a group portrait of the four founding doctors of Johns Hopkins, painted in 1905 by none other than John Singer Sargent. Osler is third from the left, in front of the large globe.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.