Sir William Osler, Baronet
- Libman-Sacks syndrome
- Osler's filaria
- Osler's manoeuvre
- Osler's nodules
- Osler's syndrome
- Osler's triad
- Rendu-Osler-Weber disease
- Sphryanura osleri
- Vaquez' disease
Biography of Sir William Osler, Baronet
William Osler played a key role in transforming the organization and curriculum of medical education, emphasizing the importance of clinical experience.
William Osler was born in the backwoods of Canada, the youngest of the nine children of the Reverend Featherstone Osler, who had gone to Canada as an Anglican missionary, and his wife, Ellen. All of the children achieved success. As a schoolboy he was a small, wiry boy with a vivid manner who excelled both in sports and studies.
William, like his father, was intended for the church. But while at school he read Sir Thomas Browne's (1606-1682) Religio Medici (1643) and became fascinated by natural history. He began to study arts at Trinity College, Toronto, but decided that the church was not for him and entered the Toronto Medical School in 1868. He subsequently transferred to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where he took his medical degree in 1872. During the following two years he visited medical centres in London, Berlin, Leipzig, and Vienna, spending the longest period at University College, London, in the physiology laboratory of John Burdon-Sanderson (1828-1906), who was making experimental physiology pre-eminent in medical education.
Osler returned to Canada and began general practice in Dundas, Ontario, but was soon appointed lecturer in the institutes of medicine at McGill University, Montreal. He became professor there in 1875. A year later he became pathologist to the Montreal General Hospital and in 1878 physician to that hospital. At McGill he taught physiology, pathology, and medicine. His research was conducted largely in the postmortem room. In 1884, while in Leipzig, he was invited to occupy the chair of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He decided to do so on the toss of a coin. While in Philadelphia he became a founding member of the Association of American Physicians.
In 1888 Osler accepted an invitation to be the first professor of medicine in the new Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore. It was here that he established himself as the most outstanding medical educator of his time, and commenced the modern era as we know it today. There he joined William Henry Welch (1850-1934), chief of pathology, Howard Atwood Kelly (1858-1943), chief of gynaecology and obstetrics, and William Steward Halsted (1852-1922), chief of surgery. Together, the four transformed the organization and curriculum of clinical teaching and made Johns Hopkins the most famous medical school in the world.
For the first four years there were no students at Johns Hopkins, and Osler used the time to write The Principles and Practice of Medicine, first published in 1892. In the same year, he married Grace Gross, widow of a surgical colleague at Philadelphia and great-granddaughter of Paul Revere, a folk hero of the American Revolution whose dramatic horseback ride on the night of April 18, 1775, warning Boston-area residents that the British were coming, was immortalized in a ballad by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Osler's textbook spread his fame throughout the English-speaking world. It was lucid, comprehensive, interesting, and scholarly. It quickly became the most popular medical textbook of its day and has continued to be published since under a succession of editors, though never regaining the quality with which Osler endowed it. The textbook had an unexpected sequel. In the summer of 1897 it was read in its entirety by the philanthropist and businessman Frederick T. Gates (1853-1929), who had been engaged by John D. Rockefeller to advise him in his philanthropic endeavours. As a result of his reading, Gates inspired Rockefeller to direct his foundation toward medical research and to establish the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in New York.
Students studied their patients in the wards and presented the results to the "Chief." They were also encouraged to take their problems to the laboratory. Finally, the experts pooled their knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the student in public teaching sessions. Thus was born the pattern of clinical teaching that spread throughout the United States. Osler was not only professor of medicine but physician in chief to the hospital, an office first devised by the president of the university on the basis of his experience of running a large department store and later to spread to most of the medical centres of the United States.
In 1904, while visiting in England, Osler was invited to succeed Sir John Burdon-Sanderson (1828-1906) in the Regius Chair of Medicine at the University of Oxford. Osler's practice and teaching had for many years imposed enormous demands on his time and energy. His forceful wife telegraphed him from America: "Do not procrastinate. Accept at once." Osler did. The Regius Chair at Oxford is a crown appointment for which only citizens of the crown are eligible, but Osler had kept his Canadian nationality.
Upon leaving the Johns Hopkins University in 1905, Osler gave a goodbye lecture in which he referred to the “relative uselessness of men over forty years of age” – remarks that were freely and frequently misquoted and occasioned a great del of public controversy.
He took up his chair in the autumn of 1905, becoming a student, roughly a lifetime fellow, of Christ Church, one of the Oxford colleges, a member of its Hebdomadal (weekly) Council, and curator of the Bodleian Library. In Oxford he taught only once a week, did a small amount of practice, and spent most of his time on his books. His library became one of the best of its kind, and after his death it passed intact to McGill, where it is specially housed. His scholarship was recognized by his election as president of the Classical Association. He was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1884 and a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1898.
At Oxford Osler was largely responsible for the foundation of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Quarterly Journal of Medicine. He presented evidence before the Haldane Commission which virtually assured the establishment of full time chairs of medicine at the university of London. He became a fellow of Christ Church College which attracted him because of its association with Robert Burton, whose “Anatomy of Melancholy” he admired so much.
Osler had a puckish wit and wrote some admirable medical nonsense under the pseudonym of Egerton Yorrick Davis, whom he presented as a retired surgeon captain of the U.S. army.
Osler was a man of immense personal charm, he epitomized Peabody’s saying that “the secret of patient care is caring for patients.” Osler himself was famous for many aphorisms which are still as cogent today as when he first introduced them: “To study medicine without reading textbooks is like going to sea without charts, but to study medicine without dealing with patients is not going to sea at all.”
For a man who is held in such reverence by all the English-speaking medical profession, Osler’s scientific accomplishments were perhaps not great. However, his description of disease bordered on that of Hippocrates, and as he matured his writing became more and more succinct and easy to follow. He wrote some of the early descriptions of the platelets in morphology and wrote classical papers on hereditary telangiectasia, lupus erythematosus and polycythaemia vera. His textbook was a goldmine of information and is still worth reading.
In 1873 Osler demonstrated that hitherto unidentified bodies in the blood were in fact the third kind of blood corpuscles, which were later named the blood platelets. These corpuscles had been observed before, but no one before Osler had studied them so thoroughly. Thus began what he called his periods of "brain dusting" - travel and studies that made him almost as much a part of Europe as of America.
Many of his essays are classics which should be read by the modern medical undergraduate and graduate. Perhaps the two most famous are “A way of life” and “Aequanimitas” - the latter title also what he considered the most desirable quality in physicians.
Osler’s real strength, however, lay in his ability to inspire and influence his students and postgraduate fellows. Through these men and women, he exerted an influence which had never been seen before and has never been equalled since. He was the example par excellence of his own saying that the future of a university or hospital “lies in the men who work in its halls and in the ideals which they cherish and teach.”
It is said that if he had a blind spot it was his inability to tell patients the reality of their disease and in consultation he sometimes caused the referring doctor problems since he would always leave the patient and relatives with the feeling that they could recover. However, perhaps this was one of the secrets of his success in a day when treatment was relatively inefficient.
Osler was a superb diagnostician who insisted on hospital patients being treated as human beings not as “interesting cases”. He had many personal ideals which he spelt out in his essays, but perhaps 3 recurring themes were:
1. Doing the day’s work well and not bothering about tomorrow,
2. always being courteous and considerate to professional colleagues and to patients, and
3. cultivating a feeling of equanimity.
In many ways Osler was responsible for combining the best of German and English medicine, and thus for the ultimate shift of the centre of progress in medical science to the United States. He had a curiously impish side to his character which led him to use a pseudonym when involved in practical jokes – Egerton Yorrick Davis. Osler considered an editorial by Dr. Theophilus Parvin, a professor of obstetrics in Philadelphia, to be ridiculous. He wrote a fictitious tongue in cheek article about vaginismus and this was published in “The Medical News” and was reproduced in two books on sexual disorders.
He and his wife were immensely hospitable, especially to visiting Americans, among whom their house was known as the "Open Arms." They had a son, named Revere for his great grandfather, Paul Revere, of “ride” fame. It is said that Osler’s personality changed when the son, his only child, died in an artillery barrage at the Ypres salient towards the end of the Ist World War.
William Osler died following bronchopneumonia and empyema on December 29th, 1919. He was buried in the chapel at Christ Church, Oxford, on January 1, 1920. In his will he had bequeathed his library of about 8000 books to his alma mater and after Lady Osler died in 1928 both her and her husband's ashes were moved to the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University. A printed catalogue of the material that Osler donated to McGill, which forms the foundation of the Osler Library, was published as Bibliotheca Osleriana.
A long-time admirer of Osler was Dr. Robert N. Larimer, a physician of Sioux City, Iowa. For many years before his death in 1978 Dr. Larimer engaged in the pleasant and rewarding hobby of collecting as much as he could of Osler's enormous output of published materials and selected items of Osleriana. Although Osler wrote a number of books, the largest proportion of his publications was in medical journals. He had most of these journal articles reprinted in a limited number of copies for presentations to friends and colleagues. An idea of the immensity of his published work may be gained from the list of collected reprints appearing as item No. 3576 in Bibliotheca Osleriana, which identifies 324 separate reprints of articles, in addition to which are scrapbooks containing an additional 161 shorter articles, letters, notices, obituaries, and pamphlets. Most of these items are elusive and many are quite rare.
Besides his own works, Osler contributed profusely to various textbooks and encyclopaedias by other authors.
We thank David S. Crawford for information submitted.
- Works by William Osler:
- Normal histology for laboratory and class use.
- An account of certain organisms occurring in the liquor sanguinis.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, London, (1873), 1874, 22: 391-398.
- A case of progressive pernicious anaemia (idiopathic of Addison). Written with William Gardner.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1877, 5: 383-404.
First complete account of pernicious anaemia.
- Autopsy, in a Case of Epithelioma of Tongue. Excision of the Entire Organ by Galvanic Ecraseur.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1877, 56: 340-341.
- Autopsy by Osler in a Case of Fibroid Contraction of the Right Lung with Displacement of the Heart, under care of Dr. Ross.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1877, 56: 345-349.
Referring to George Ross (1845-1892), a famous clinical teacher.
- Autopsy, in a Case of Cancer of the Liver, by John Bell.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1877, 58: 437-439.
- Autopsy by Osler, in a case of Acute Bright's Disease, accompanying pregnancy, miscarriage, peritonitis, death, under care of Dr. Ross.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1877, 58: 445-447.
- Autopsy, in a Case of Encephaloid Cancer of the Axillary Glands, with Secondary Deposits in all the Internal Organs, under the care of Dr. Fenwick.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1878, 72: 541- 45.
Referring to George Edgeworth Fenwick (1825-1894).
- Two specimens of retroperitoneal cancer; Kidney in a burn victim. Specimens presented by Osler.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1878, 72: Abbott p. 488.
- Montreal General Hospital, Medical and Surgical. Reports of Cases under the Care of Dr. Osler.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1880, 9: 161- 162.
A case of retro-peritoneal cancer.
- Clinical Notes on Haematemesis in Chronic. Splenic Tumor. Read before the Med. Chirur. Soc. of Montreal, Oct. 20, 1882.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1882, 11: 267-270.
- Specimen from a Case of Fatty Diarrhoea. II. Portions of Obliterated Superior Vena Cava. III. Specimen of a Case of Pneumonia terminating in abscess of lung. Specimens presented by Osler.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1882, 11.
- Discussion by Osler on Paper by Dr. Major on Papillomatous Growths of the Pharynx.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1882, 11: 515.
- Amyloid liver in a Case Dying of Phthisis. II. Lymphosarcomatous Growth of Bronchial Glands, by Dr. Wilkins. Specimens Presented, Med. Chirur. Soc. Montreal, June 14, 1883.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1883, 12: 102-103.
- Clinical Discussion by Osler of a Case of Hodgkin's Disease.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1883, 12: 499.
- Cancer of Ascending Colon, an Extensive. I. Cancer of Ascending Colon, Extensive Secondary Growths in Liver. II. Obstinate Quotidian Aigue. Medical Cases Under Care of Dr. Osler, Montreal General Hospital.
Canada Medical and Surgical Journal, Montreal, 1883, 11, 1882: 28-30.
- The Gulstonian Lectures, on malignant endocarditis.
British Medical Journal, London, 1885, 1: 467-470, 522-526, 577-579.
First comprehensive description of subacute bacterial endocarditis.
- The cerebral palsies of children. Philadelphia, 1889.
- Aequanimitas: valedictory remarks to the graduates in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, May 1st, 1889. Philadelphia, Wm. F. Fll & Co., 1889. 10 pages.
This farewell address to the medical graduates at the University of Pennsylvania as Osler prepared to move to Johns Hopkins University is perhaps one of the best known of all Osler's non-clinical papers. It was frequently reprinted.
- The License to Practice.
Maryland Medical Journal, 1889, 21: 61.
- Doctor and Nurse: Remarks to the First Class of Graduates from the Training School for Nurses of The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Baltimore: John Murphy and Company, 1891.
- The Principles and Practice of Medicine.
New York D. Appleton, 1892; 10th edition 1925; translated into Chinese and French.
- Lectures on the diagnosis of abdominal tumors.
New York Medical Journal, 1894.
Osler delivered a series of lectures on abdominal tumors to the postgraduate class at Johns Hopkins in November and December of 1893. They were first published in a series of articles in the New York Medical Journal during 1894. They were collected and published commercially in 1894.
Second reprinting, New York, D. Appleton, 1895. 192 pages.
- The Leaven of Science. Philadelphia?; 1894?
The first separate printing of a famous address delivered at the opening of the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, May 21, 1894.
- On the visceral complication of erythema exudativum multiforme.
American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 1895, 110: 629-646.
- An Alabama Student.
First separate printing, Baltimore, Friedenwald, 1896.
Later included in: An Alabama Student, and Other Biographical Essays. 1908.
This biographical sketch of Dr. John Y. Bassett, an almost unknown physician from Huntsville, Alabama, who died as a comparatively young man in 1851, was based on a small packet of letters and two articles which Dr. Bassett had written. Osler makes of this slight evidence a graceful address on "a man of whom you have never heard, a humble student from a little town in Alabama." The address, presented to the Johns Hopkins Historical Club in January, 1895, was first printed in the Johns Hopkins Hospital bulletin in 1896.
- On the association of enormous heart hypertrophy, chronic proliferative peritonitis, and recurring ascites, with adherent pericardium. 896?
First separate reprinting of Osler's paper on the syndrome now known as (Friedel) Pick's disease, presented at the American Pediatric Society meeting in 1895 and first published in the Archives of Pediatrics.
- Lectures on angina pectoris and allied states.
New York, 1897.
- Cancer of the stomach.
With Thomas McCrae (1870-). Philadelphia, 1900.
- On a family form of recurring epistaxis, associated with multiple telangiectases of the skin and mucous membranes.
Johns Hopkins Hospital Bulletin, 1901, 12: 333-337.
Reprinted in Medical Classics, 1939, 4: 243-153.
- The Masterword in Medicine. Baltimore, 1903.
- Chronic cyanosis, with polycythaemia and enlarged spleen: a new clinical entity.
American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Thorofare, N.J., 1903, 126: 187-201.
Reprinted in Medical Classics, 1939, 4: 254-275.
Polycythaemia rubra vera, or Vaquez-Osler disease.
- Science and Immortality.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1904.
- Aequanimitas With Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine.
Philadelphia: The Blakiston Company, 1904. 2nd edition, 1906.
- The growth of truth as illustrated in the discovery of the circulation of the blood. London, 1906.
- On multiple hereditary telangiectases with recurrent haemorrhages.
Quarterly Journal of Medicine, Oxford, 1907, 1: 53-58.
- Modern medicine: Its Theory and Practice, in Original Contributions by American and Foreign Authors.
Edited by William Osler, assisted by Thomas McCrae.
Philadelphia and New York: Lea & Febiger, 1907-1910.
- Thomas Linacre. Cambridge, 1908.
- Chronic infectious endocarditis.
Quarterly Journal of Medicine, Oxford, 1908-1909, 2: 219-230.
- An Alabama Student and Other Biographical Addresses.
Oxford University Press, New York, 1908.
- The Lumleian lectures on angina pectoris.
Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London.
While Osler was Regius professor of medicine at Oxford, he was invited to present the Lumleian lectures to the Royal College of Physicians. He gave these lectures in March, 1910, and they were immediately printed in three successive issues of The Lancet.
Lecture II, Pathology. March 15th, 1910. Lancet, 1910; I: 839-844.
- Specialism in the General Hospital.
Johns Hopkins Alumni Magazine, June 1913.
- A way of life. London, 1914.
- After Twenty-Five Years: an Address at the Opening of the Session of the Medical Faculty.
Montreal Medical Journal (November 1899.
In "twenty-Fifth Anniversary of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. 1889-1914,
- Communication from Dr. Osler: Looking Back.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 25 (December 1914): 354-5.
In: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. 1889-1914," above.)
- The Coming of Age of Internal Medicine in America.
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1915. (Reprinted from International Clinics, vol. 4, ser. 25.)
- Observations on the severe anaemias of pregnancy and the post-partum state.
British Medical Journal, London, 1919, 1: 1-3.
- A Concise History of Medicine. Baltimore, 1919.
- The old humanities and the new science.
Boston and New York, 1920.
- The evolution of modern medicine.
New Haven, Yale University Press, 1921.
This book is based on the Silliman Lectures delivered at Yale in 1913. It remained unfinished at Osler’s death, and Osler requested in his will that it and his other unfinished work not be published. In spite of this, work was prepared for the press by Harvey Cushing, Archibald Malloch and others. It is one of the most interesting short histories of medicine, written in Osler’s usual charming style, and is still one of the best books with which to commence the study of medicine. Reprinted in New York in 1963 and 1972.
- Incunabula medica. A study of the earliest printed medical books, 1467-1480.
Oxford University Press, 1923.
- The Student Life and Other Essays.
London: Constable, 1928.
- Bibliotheca Osleriana: A Catalogue of Books Illustrating the History of Medicine and Science Collected, Arranged, and Annotated by Sir William Osler, Bt. and Bequeathed to McGill University. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929.
This bibliography of over 7,500 titles is the catalogue of Osler’s magnificent library. It is one of the best well-annotated bibliographies in the history of medicine and stands as a monument to its author. Reprinted 1969 and 1988 with addenda and corrigenda, Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press.
- A Way of Life: An Address to Yale Students.
Baltimore: Remington-Putnam Book Company, 1932. Works on Osler and his time, etc.
- Lewellys F. Barker:
Osler as Chief of a Medical Clinic.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 189-193.
- Thomas R Brown:
Osler and the Student.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 30 (July 1919): 200-1.
- Louis Hamman (1877-1946):
Osler and the Tuberculosis Work of the Hospital.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 202-4.
- Howard Atwood Kelly:
Osler as I Knew Him in Philadelphia and in the Hopkins.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 215-6. Counsels and ideals from the writings of Sir William Osler.
Boston and New York, 1905; 2nd edition, 1921. Contributions to Medical and Biological Research Dedicated to Sir William Osler, Bart, M.D., F.R.S., in Honour of His Seventieth Birthday, July 12, 1919, by His Pupils and Co-Workers.
New York: P. B. Hoeber, 1919. Sir William Osler, Bart: Brief Tributes to His Personality, Influence and Public Service Written by His Friends, Associates and Former Pupils.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1920. (Reprint of articles from Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 20 (July 1919).)
- William G. MacCallum:
Osler as a Pathologist.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 197-8.
- Henry M. Thomas:
Some Memories of the Development of the Medical School and of Osler's Advent.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 185-9.
- Henry Barton Jacobs:
Osler as a Citizen and His Relation to the Tuberculosis Crusade in Maryland.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1919, 30 (July): 205-8.
- Minnie Wright Blogg:
Bibliography of the Writings of Sir William Osler, Bart., M.D., F.R.S., Regius Professor of Medicine in the University of Oxford. Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1921.
- Harvey W. Cushing:
The Life of Sir William Osler.
2 volumes, Oxford, 1925; reissued 1982.
The standard biographical work. Pulitzer prize winner.
- Maude E. Abbott:
Sir William Osler Memorial Number. Montreal, 1926.
- Fielding H. Garrison:
Osler's Place in the History of Medicine."
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 29-32. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Sir German Sims Woodhead:
Sir William Osler.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 33-7. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Thomas McCrae:
The Influence of Pathology upon the Clinical Medicine of William Osler.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 37-40. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Rufus Cole:
Sir William Osler, Teacher and Student.
International Association of Medical Museums, 1926, Bulletin IX: 46-51.
- George M. Kober:
The Influence of Dr. Osler on American Medicine."
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 52-8. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Joseph H. Pratt:
Osler and Tuberculosis.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 59-79. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Lewellys F. Barker:
Foreword-Dr. Osler as the Young Physician's Friend and Exemplar.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 251-8.
- Henry Mills Hurd.
The Personality of William Osler in Baltimore.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 262-4.
- Henri A. LaFleur:
Early Days at the Johns Hopkins Hospital with Dr. Osler.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 268-72. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- John Miller Turpin Finney:
A Personal Appreciation of the Late Sir William Osler.
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 273-85. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- William S. Thayer:
International Association of Medical Museums, Bulletin No IX (1926): 286-93. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Charles P. Emerson:
Reminiscences of Sir William Osler.
International Association of Medical Museums, 1926, Bulletin No IX: 294-303. (Sir William Osler Memorial Number.)
- Rufus Cole, et al:
Special Meeting of the Johns Hopkins Historical Club: Presentation to the Hospital of Memorial Plaque of Sir William Osler.
Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1927, 41 (September): 139-153.
- Edith Gittings Reid:
The Great Physician: A Short Life of Sir William Osler.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1931.
- Lewellys F. Barker:
Osler in America: with Especial Reference to His Baltimore Period.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1935, 33 (October): 353-9.
- Maude E. Abbott:
Classified and Annotated Bibliography of Sir William Osler's Publications.
Montreal: The Medical Museum, McGill University, 1939.
Based on the chronological bibliography by Minnie Wright Blogg.
- Charles D. Parfitt:
Osler's Influence in the War against Tuberculosis.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1942, 47 (October): 293-304.
- Willard E. Goodwin:
William Osler and Howard A. Kelly, 'Physicians, Medical Historians, Friends,' as Revealed by Nineteen Letters from Osler to Kelly. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1946, 20: 611-52.
- Felix Cunha:
Osler as a Gastroenterologist. San Francisco: N. p., 1948.
- Henry A. Christian:
Osler: Recollections of an Undergraduate Medical Student at Johns Hopkins.
Archives of Internal Medicine, 1949, 84 (July): 77-83.
- Norman B. Gwyn,.et al:
Sir William Osler Memorial Number. American Journal of Internal Medicine, 1949, 84 (July): 1-199.
- Walter Reginald Bett:
Osler, the Man and the Legend. London: Heinemann, 1951.
- Huntington Williams:
Osler and Welch, Founders of Modern American Public Health. Virginia Medical Monthly, 1953, 80 (June): 303-12.
- Anne Wilkinson:
Lions in the Way: A Discursive History of the Oslers.
Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1956.
- Robert B. Bean and William B. Bean:
Sir William Osler: Aphorisms from His Bedside Teachings and Writings.
Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Company, 1961.
- Charles G. Roland:
Some Addenda to Abbott's Classified Bibliography of Sir William Osler.
Bulletin of the History of Medicine 38 (1964): 78-9.
- Emile Holman:
Sir William Osler, William Stewart Halsted, Harvey Cushing: Some Personal Reminiscences.
Surgery, 1965, 57: 589-601.
- William Osler, 1849-1919: Commemorative Issue.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1969, 210 (December 22): 2213-71.
- D. G. Bates and E. H. Bensley:
The Inner History of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Johns Hopkins Medical Journal, 1969, 125 (October): 184-94.
(Edited publication of W. H. Osler's manuscript.)
- Wilburt C. Davison:
Osler's Opposition to 'Whole Time Clinical Professors'.
In: Humanism in Medicine, edited by John P. McGovern and Chester R. Burns. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Company, 1973.
- George T Harrell:
Osler's Practice. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1973, 47 (November-December): 545-68.
- Harvey, A. McGehee:
William Osler and Medicine in America: With Special Reference to the Baltimore Period.
Maryland State Medical Journal, 1976, 25: 35-42.
- Student and Chief: the Osler-Camac Correspondence.
Edited by E. F. Nation and J. P. McGovern. Pasadena: Castle Press, 1980.
- H. Robb-Smith:
Osler's Influence on Haematology.
Blood Cells, 1981, 7 : 513-36.
- George T Harrell:
The Osler Family. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1982, 248 (July 9): 203-9.
- R. Palmer Howard:
The Chief: Doctor William Osler.
Canton, MA: Science History Publications, 1983.
Concentrates on his family life and personality.
- Jeremiah A Barondess:
Cushing and Osler: The Evolution of a Friendship.
Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1985, 7: 79-112.
- Richard L. Golden and Charles G. Roland, editors:
Sir William Osler: An Annotated Bibliography with Illustrations.
San Francisco: Norman Publishing, 1988.
- W. Bruce Fye:
William Osler. Clinical Cardiology, 1988, 11 (May): 356-58.
- W. Bruce Fye:
William Osler's Departure from North America: The Price of Success.
New England Journal of Medicine, 1989, 320 (May): 1425-31.
- McGehee Harvey, Victor A. McKusick, John D. Stobo:
Osler's Legacy: The Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, 1889-1989.
Baltimore: The Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, 1990.
- T. S. Huddle:
Osler's Clinical Clerkship: Origins and Interpretations.
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 1994, 49 (October): 483-503.
- Michael Bliss (born 1941):
William Osler : a life in medicine.
University of Toronto Press, 1999. xiv, 581 pages. 24 pages of plates.
- Earl F. Nation, Charles G. Roland, John P. McGovern.
An Annotated Checklist of Osleriana. Volumes 1 and 2.
Osler Library, McGill University 2000. (Osler Library studies in the history of medicine ; no. 4-5).
Volume 1 first published by Kent State University in 1976.