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- Source of title proper: Title based on content of the collection.
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Dates of creation area
approximately 1850-1981, predominant 1913-1940 (Creation)
- Wood, Casey A. (Casey Albert), 1856-1942
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Casey Albert Wood (1856-1942) was an ophthalmologist, an ornithologist, and a bibliophile. He was born to American parents in Wellington, Ontario on November 21, 1856. Wood attended school in Ottawa and graduated from the Ottawa Collegiate Institute in 1874. He then attended Bishop’s College in Montreal where he graduated with an M.D.C.M. degree in 1877. Wood was awarded an ad eundem degree in 1906 following Bishop’s College merger with McGill University. He also received D.C.L, LL. D honorary degrees from these institutions. Under Sir William Osler (1849-1919) Wood became the first clinical clerk at Montreal General Hospital, which began a close lifelong friendship.
On October 28, 1886, Casey Wood married Emma Shearer, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Shearer, a prominent Montreal family.
Based in Montreal from 1878-1886, Wood practiced general medicine and surgery and taught chemistry and pathology. By 1886, Casey Wood decided to make Ophthalmology and Otology his speciality, beginning further studies in New York followed by Europe. In 1890, Wood settled in Chicago where he practiced, taught and published extensively. He also travelled, held various appointments, and conducted research during this time.
From 1916-1920 Wood served in the United States Army Medical Reserve Corps as a member of the Office of the Surgeon General for the majority of his military career. In Autumn 1917, Major Wood was put in charge of Camp Sherman Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department in Chillicothe, Ohio. Then in December 1917, he was transferred to the War Department in Washington, D.C. where he served until his retirement in 1920 holding the rank of Colonel.
Casey Wood's research in ophthalmology extended to an interest in the history of ophthalmology, comparative ophthalmology, ornithology, and finally into a passion for collecting books and other materials on these subjects. In 1917, Wood published the monograph ""Fundus Oculi of Birds, Especially as Viewed by the Ophthalmoscope," a major milestone in his career. He also translated many hitherto untranslated works of historical interest on ophthalmology and ornithology.
From 1920 until mid-1930, Casey Wood, his wife Emma, their niece Marjorie Fyfe, and their beloved parrot John III travelled extensively to study birds in their natural habitat. They explored Europe, British Guiana, India, Ceylon, Kashmir, the South Pacific, Northeast and Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Wood was supported in his travels and research by friends, researchers, book dealers, libraries, museums, and locals. Wood also continued to produce publications and was an active member in many international ornithological societies, unions, and associations. Wood also taught ornithology at Stanford University beginning in 1927 and was research associate at the California Institute of Technology in 1932.
In 1911, Wood presented a large collection of rare books on the subject of diseases of the eye to McGill's Medical Library and in 1919, he established and endowed the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology. The Blacker Wood Library of Biology, established in 1988, resulted in the fusion of the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology with the Blacker Library of Zoology founded and endowed by his friends Robert Roe Blacker (1845-1931) and his wife Nellie Canfield (d. 1946) of Pasadena, California in 1920. During his travels, Wood actively collected materials for the Emma Shearer Wood, Blacker, and Medical Library collections at McGill University and other institutions.
In 1931, Wood published one of his most extensive works "An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, based chiefly on the titles in the Blacker Library of Zoology, the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology, the Bibliotheca Osleriana, and other libraries of McGill University, Montreal." The volume was well received and provided a thorough catalogue of works published on vertebrate zoology.
Wood’s last work, published after his death and written with his niece F. Marjorie Fyfe, was "the Art of Falconry," a translation of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen’s De Arte Venandi cum Avibus.
Casey Wood passed away on January 26, 1942 at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, survived by his wife Emma. Wood was cremated and buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Scope and content
This collection consists of materials dated from approximately 1850-1981, but predominantly from 1913-1940, relating to Dr. Casey Albert Wood’s research, writing, correspondence, and personal interest concerning ornithology, vertebrate zoology, memoir and family history, Emma Shearer Wood and Blacker Library collection development, ophthalmology, politics, and current events. Materials relate chiefly to Wood’s “Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology” (1921-1956), falconry (1930s), his unpublished memoir (1930s), the development of McGill University’s Emma Shearer Wood and Blacker Libraries (1918-1941), the history of ophthalmology (1925-1936), “Fundus Oculi” (1911-1934), his travels and research expeditions studying birds in their natural habitat (1920-1940), political interests, and correspondence relating to these activities and subjects.
There are approximately 2902 incoming and outgoing pieces of correspondence including letters, postcards, notes, telegrams, and cards. Series 1) Research and writing, contains the largest volume of correspondence relating to “the Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology.” While Series 2) Research trips, contains the largest portion of photographs. Other materials in this collection include research notes, manuscripts, page and galley proofs, book and article reprint publications, postcards, artwork, glass plate negatives, book plates, palm leaf manuscripts, artefacts, printed ephemera, clippings, journals, and administration and financial records relating to Wood’s publications or the Emma Shearer Wood and Blacker Libraries.
There are gaps within this collection relating to geographic locations, as not all locations Wood is known to have visited are represented or are only minimally represented. Asian countries, such as China or Japan, are not represented in this collection. While geographic locations that are prominent within the collection are Fiji, Sri Lanka and India.
The series consists of 1) research and writing (ca. 1850-1956); 2) research trips (1920-1937); 3) scrapbooks (1887-1946); 4) collection development (1918-1941); 5) published books (1907-1981); 6) artefacts (191-?, 1920-1937); and 7) glass negative plates (1924, 1927, 1930, 1956).
The collection is in relatively good condition with some colour transfer, bleeding ink, stains, and damage to binding and pages. Some volumes have brittle and/or discoloured pages and clippings, tape and adhesive issues, some prints have foxing, and one leather artefact is damaged.
One photo negative item indicates it must only be opened in a photo development dark room and another file contains untoned photographs which must not be opened in bright light. All glass plate negatives are fragile, while a few are slightly chipped.
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Availability of other formats
Where applicable, links for files and items with electronic copies have been added.
Restrictions on access
Some files subject to specific access conditions. One file within MSG 1203-1-4-11 are photograph negatives and must only be opened in a dark room. Access to glass plate negatives in Series 7 are restricted due to fragility. Please contact the liaison librarian for the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection for further information.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
References used for biographical history include:
Abbaspour, P. (2013). Creating a Collection Description for the Blacker-Wood Collection of Ornithology and Zoology (Unpublished independent study paper). McGill University, Montreal.
Benjamin, M. (December 1970). Dr. Casey Albert Wood and the McGill Medical Libraries. Osler Library Newsletter, 55, 1-2. Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/library/files/library/No5December1970.pdf
Hume, E. E. (1942). Casey Albert Wood (1856-1942): Colonel, Medical Corps, United States Army. In Ornithologists of the United States Army Medical Corps, Volume 1, pp. 476-489. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins Press.
Pennington, R. (Spring 1959). The Strange case of Casey Wood. McGill News, pp. 14-15.
Snyder, C. (March 1963). Casey Albert Wood. Archives of Ophthalmology, 69(3), 409–411. doi:10.1001/archopht.1963.00960040415025
Standard number area
Place access points
Name access points
- Wood, Casey A. (Casey Albert), 1856-1942 (Creator)