Title and statement of responsibility area
Wilder Penfield Fonds
General material designation
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on the documents in the fonds.
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1809-1991; predominantly 1919-1991 (Creation)
- Penfield, Wilder, 1891-1976
Physical description area
44.7 m of textual records.
Approximately 35.3 m of graphic material (11,797 photographs, 3,885 illustrations, 2,638 glass slides).
29 objects (25 medals, 3 draft medals, 1 pin).
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
Other title information of publisher's series
Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
Numbering within publisher's series
Note on publisher's series
Archival description area
Name of creator
Born in Spokane, Washington, Wilder Penfield received his B.Litt. from Princeton University in 1913 and was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford (B.A.1916). He received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1918. Studying under Sir Charles Sherrington at Oxford, Penfield became interested in the brain. From 1921 to 1928 he engaged in research and neurosurgery at the Presbyterian Hospital and served on the Medical Faculty of Columbia University. Appointed to the Medical Faculty of McGill University in 1928, he was Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery from 1934 to 1960. An endowment from the Rockefeller Foundation enabled him to establish the Montreal Neurological Institute (M.N.I.), which opened in 1934. At the M.N.I. Penfield made many innovations in neurosurgery including a surgical treatment for epilepsy. He devoted much of his research to the study of the physiology of the brain, speech memory and sensation. Besides his numerous scientific publications, Penfield wrote two novels and participated in a large number of professional organizations. Dr. Penfield was a member of the Board of Curators of the Osler Library.
Transferred by literary executors Dr. Theodore Rasmussen and Dr. William Feindel to the Osler Library in 1987. Officially donated to the Osler Library in 2011.
The Wilder Penfield Archive was established after Dr. Penfield's death in 1976. In his will, Penfield designated Drs. Theodore Rasmussen and William Feindel as his literary executors. Drs. Rasmussen and Feindel later served as Directors of the Montreal Neurological Institute. The Archive was subjected to thorough archival processing for the next decade at the Montreal Neurological Institute, notably under the supervision of Althea Douglas and her team. The contents of the Penfield collection at The Montreal Neurological Institute were summarized in the Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University, published in 1985 under the general editorship of Marcel Caya, the McGill University Archivist. In 1987 the Penfield Archive was transferred to the Osler Library under an agreement between the Board of Curators of the Osler Library and the Literary Executors of the Estate of Wilder Penfield. At that stage reprints, institutional records and duplicate material were separated from the Penfield Archive. In 2011 the Penfield Archive was formally donated to the Osler Library by the Literary Executors of the Estate of Wilder Penfield.
Scope and content
The Penfield fonds consists of over eighty metres of Penfield's personal and professional records dating from his childhood up until his death in 1976, including during his career at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The materials in the fonds include photographs, correspondence, manuscripts and drafts of publications and speeches, research notes, glass slides, bound reports, films, and academic gowns.
Immediate source of acquisition
The series are largely arranged as they were when the archive was first catalogued in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This arrangement is partially based upon Dr. Penfield's own filing system, and partly upon the organization, function, chronological periods, places and subjects of the file units. Most of the series are composed of individual file units, which contain materials that relate to the same subject or transaction, or that have the same form. The files may vary in size and form, but they are typically found in a sequential order which was imposed by Dr. Penfield's original filing system.
Several of the series are identified according to initials or abbreviations. These series titles were part of the original archival labeling system imposed on the Penfield Archive in the late 1970s and early 1980s according to the principles of T.R. Schellenberg's 1956 text, Modern Archives: Principles and Technique. While the letter titles of the series were originally supposed to be indicative of their nature or arrangement, explanations as to the meanings of most of these series titles are provided on this page.
Series which were not part of the original archival arrangement have been assigned more descriptive titles.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script note
The documents are in English
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Digital surrogates of many items available in the Wilder Penfield Digital Collection
Restrictions on access
Case files restricted.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Items can be requested for consultation online via the Library Catalogue or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Advance notice is recommended.
Discarded material February 2021:
- Modern Medicine, November 23 1964 vol 32 no. 24 Modern Medicine The Journal of Diagnosis and Treatment; Ed: Irvine H. Page, M.D.
- Montreal Calendar Gazette, April 4 to May 8 1975
- Epileptogenic Lesions, Les editions <Acta Medica Belgica> 43 rue des champs-elysées bruxelles Extrait des Acta Neurologica et Psychiatrica Belgica Fasc 2 1956 pages 75 à 88
- The Montrealer, December 1965 Vol 39 No 12
- The McGill News, 1955-1957,1959, 1961-1969
- McGill University Publications Publications and Lectures, Series VII (Library) No. 27, 1930-1931
- McGill University Reports: Building a library system second to none in Canada, Vol 2 No 2 September 1966
Osler Database ID
Osler Fonds ID
Standard number area
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Montreal Neurological Institute (Subject)