Fonds MG1070 - Maude Elizabeth Abbott Fonds

Maude E. Abbott Moral Philosophy Notes Lecturer Dr. Murray

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Maude Elizabeth Abbott Fonds

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  • 1883-1940 (Creation)
    Abbott, Maude E. (Maude Elizabeth), 1868-1940

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Biographical history

Maude Abbott was born in St Andrew's, Quebec, and graduated with a B.A. from McGill University in 1890. One of the first women to obtain a bachelor's degree in arts from McGill University, Abbott was denied admission to the McGill Medical School, since women were not yet admitted, and subsequently attended the University of Bishop's College where she received her medical degree in 1894. Following postgraduate studies in Europe, Abbott returned to Montreal where she met the Chair of Pathology at McGill University, Dr. George Adami, who appointed her Assistant Curator of the Medical Museum in 1898. In addition to her efforts at curating and maintaining the specimen collection at the Medical Museum, Abbott became a renowned teacher and an expert in cardiac disease. In 1924 the Medical Museum and the Pathology Department were moved from Strathcona Building and Abbott was named curator of the new Central Medical Museum until her retirement in 1936. Abbott was a founding member of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC), the International Association of Medical Museums, and helped develop and organize the Canadian Medical War Museum. Her main area of medical interest was pathology and she specialized in congenital heart disease. She taught in McGill's Department of Pathology from 1912 to 1935, was the first woman to be honoured by the Pathological Society of London and published her authoritative Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease in 1936. Her second vocation, one inspired and encouraged by Sir William Osler, lay in museum work and medical history. She was curator of the Medical Historical Museum at McGill and lectured and wrote on a variety of historical topics, her major publication being the History of Medicine in the Province of Quebec (1931).

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Abbott's papers reflect her family background, education and private life, as well as her research and publications on medical history. There are no materials relating to her work as a pathologist. Abbott's family background is documented by a printed history (1931) of St. Matthew's, Grenville, of which Joseph Abbott was the first rector, and glass negative views of the family home in St. Andrew's. Records of her education comprise notebooks (1886-1890) for courses at McGill in classics, philosophy, English literature, and science, her graduation photograph, and a photocopy of her address as Donalda Valedictorian in 1890. Private records include diaries (1930-1940), a commonplace-book (1929-1938), and a bundle of notes, clippings, poems, letters and invitations. Three versions of her autobiography survive: the finished "Autobiographical sketch" of 1928 (photocopy), part of an undated autobiography, and a brief autobiographical note. Records of Abbott's historical research and publications include extensive notes on the history of medicine in Québec as well as papers relating to the publication of her History. Other files contain notes on the admission of women to McGill and other universities, the establishment of the Medical Museum, the amalgamation of the medical faculties of Bishop's and McGill with some administrative records of the medical faculty. Dr. Abbott's professional correspondence is represented only by a file on the Federation of Canadian Medical Women, 1938.

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McGill’s Osler Library contains 2.92 m of private records and papers (1890-1949) relating to the medical and teaching career of Maude Abbott (P111). The fonds consists in large part of correspondence, 1894-1920, including family correspondence with, among others, her sister Alice Abbott, 1904-1919, and her brother Rev. Harry M. Babin, 1916-1920. Also included are manuscripts and drafts of articles and addresses; case reports; post-mortem records; slides and drawings; exhibit panels largely pertaining to her research on congenital heart disease; programmes of medical meetings, 1902-1937; reprints and papers relating to the history of medicine in Montréal and Québec, as well as to the history of McGill, 1829-1936. In addition, there are photographs, some poems, an autobiographical sketch and a printed copy of her Classified and annotated bibliography of Sir William Osler's publications (1939), with corrections and annotations by W.W. Francis.

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