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Detailed Record


William Vernon Cone Fonds

William Vernon Cone Fonds

Physical Description

1,45 m of textual records. – 280 photographs. – 55 slides. – 19 X-rays. – 15 technical drawings. – 4 postcards. – 4 drawings. – 4 film reels: 16 mm. – 3 copper printing plates.


1913-1973; predominant 1920-1959

Biographical Sketch / Administrative History

William Vernon Cone was born in Conesville, Iowa, USA, on May 7, 1897. He was the son of William Lord Cone and Emma Dean (Drury). He was educated at the University of Iowa where he received a B.S. in 1920 and M.D. in 1922. He was a lecturer in neuropathology at the University of Iowa (1922-1924). He was awarded a National Research Fellowship. He carried out research at the University of Iowa and Columbia University, New York City, from 1922 to 1926. From 1926 to 1928, Dr. Cone was an Instructor of surgery at Columbia University and a junior attending surgeon at the Presbyterian Hospital, New York City. In 1928, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for postgraduate studies in Europe (London, Breslau, and Hamburg). In 1928, Dr. Cone moved to Montreal, Quebec, with Dr. Wilder Penfield and became associated with McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. From 1929 until his death, Dr. Cone was actively involved in teaching at McGill University (assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery, 1929-1937, associate professor of neurosurgery, 1937-1950, professor of neurosurgery, 1950-1959). During this time he was also employed by the Royal Victoria Hospital as neurosurgeon (1929-1934) and neurologist and neurosurgeon-in-chief (1934-1959). With Dr. Penfield, Dr. Cone helped establish the Montreal Neurological Institute in 1934 where he remained Chief of Neurological Service until his death on May 4, 1959. He was an author of many papers on neuropathology, neurosurgeon and neurology. Dr. Cone was a consulting neurosurgeon at many hospital and was also involved in many societies, including The American Association of Neuropathologists, The Society of Neurological Surgeons, and The American Neurological Association. In 1955, Dr. Cone received the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa) from Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec. During World War II, Dr. Cone was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, in charge of neurosurgery at No. 1, Canadian Neurological Hospital from January 1940 to December 1941. William Cone’s commitment to medicine is illustrated by his contribution to the development of techniques in the treatment of head injuries, the study of antibiotics, the use of the twist drill in the diagnosis of intracranial lesions, the use of skeletal traction in the treatment of spinal injuries with the “Cone-Barton ice tongs”, and the Cone operating table, open reduction and fusion in spinal injuries, tidal drainage, the use of ventriculoperitoneal and subdural shunting procedures, the treatment of brain absess by needle puncture and antibiotics, and the surgical treatment of cervical bony abnormalities (excerpt from Dr. Arthur Elvidge’s “Obituary William Vernon Cone 1897-1959”, Journal of Neurosurgery, 1960. Vol. XVII, no. 2. p. 358-359).

Scope and Content

The fonds illustrates Dr. Cone’s work as a neurosurgeon and consists of correspondence, letters, articles, newspaper clippings, obituaries, photographs, slides, research material and notes, course material, annual reports, manuscripts, typescripts, annotations, published and unpublished manuscripts written by Dr. Cone, printed copies of articles, and patient files.

Finding Aids

Complete online inventory list available.

Custodial History

The fonds was transferred to the Osler Library from the Montreal Neurological Institute in 1986. This was part of accession 864.


The documents are in English. Some documents are in French.

Source of Supplied Title Proper

Title based on the documents in the fonds.

Retrieval Number



Professional Correspondence, 1928-1973

Subject Files, 1920-1961

Publications and Unpublished Articles, 1913-1958

Visual items and Reference Material, 1927-1959

Patient Files, 1945-1955


Cone, William Vernon, 1897-1959
McGill University Doctors
Montreal Neurological Institute
Practice of Medicine - Canada
World War II