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Detailed Record


Robert Palmer Howard 1912-1990 Fonds

Robert Palmer Howard 1912-1990 Fonds

Physical Description

11 cm of textual records. – 1 photo album (51 photographs). – 3 books.



Biographical Sketch / Administrative History

Robert Palmer Howard (1912-1990) was the son of McGill graduate Dr. Campbell Palmer Howard (1877-1936) and Ottilie Wright (1892-1976). He was the grandson and namesake of distinguished McGill professor and dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1882-1889, Robert Palmer Howard (1823-1889) and Emily Severs Howard (1840-1892). Howard’s father, Campbell Palmer Howard, was the godson of William Osler (1849-1919) and Howard himself was godson to Olser’s son, Edward Revere Osler (1895-1917).

Howard received his medical degree from McGill University in 1932. Upon graduation, he worked at McGill and also at Montreal General Hospital. He spent most of his career as a physician and researcher at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, affiliated with the University of Oklahoma. Howard was always particularly interested in the history of medicine and later became the director of University of Oklahoma’s History of Medicine Program. Upon retirement, he moved to Iowa City, IA to become Director of the History of Medicine Society at the University of Iowa.

Howard is the author of The Chief: Doctor William Osler published by Science History Publications in 1983. The bibliographical work provides a detailed account of the close relationships and correspondences between the Osler and Howard families. Howard married Muriel Howard and is the father of Caroline Howard Mast.

Scope and Content

Fonds consists of personal letters between Howard family members and close relations (C. P. Howard, William Osler, Grace Osler, the Wright family etc.). Subjects range from wedding engagement congratulations for C. P. Howard and Otillie Wright, personal introductions from Grace Osler, to professional appointment letters. There are original photographs (as well as a few copies) of candid Osler family moments, formal family portraits, hospital photos of Osler at work, as well as several professional portraits of William Osler by prominent Montreal photographers. The fonds also includes miscellaneous reprints, booklets, and various other publication materials such as R. P. Howard’s valedictory addresses to several graduating classes, personal copies of medical case studies, Olser’s handwritten medical notes from 1875-1878, as well as original caricature sketches by Edward Revere Osler. In addition, there is a small photo album (in its own presentation box) with John Hopkins Hospital staff portraits (names included) from 1902-1903. The photo album is stamped “C.P.H.” on the front cover. Included in the fonds are the following books: The Holy Bible (Oxford, 1912), The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Diamond Edition, New York, 1881), and Robert Bridges The Spirit of Man (Longmans Green and Co., London, 1916).

Finding Aids

Inventory list is available.

Custodial History

All materials accumulated by Robert Palmer Howard (1912-1990). Caroline Howard Mast, daughter of Robert Palmer Howard (1912-1990), donated to Osler Library July 2015.


The documents are in English.

Source of Supplied Title Proper

Title is based on the contents of the fonds.

Retrieval Number



1. Letters

2. Misc. Reprints and Publications

3. Photos of William Osler, Lady Osler, and others

4. Photos of William Osler with Misc.

5. William Osler Portraits

6. Misc. Documents

7. Handwritten Medical Notes

8. Sketches

9. Photo Album

10. Books


Howard, Otillie Wright, 1892-1976
Howard, Robert Palmer, 1823-1889
Howard, Robert Palmer, 1912-1990
McGill University Doctors
Osler, Grace Revere
Osler, Sir William - Friends or Relations
Osler, Sir William, 1849-1919