Fonds P142 - Wilder Penfield Fonds

Personal Correspondence - Dr. William Cone Graphic material used in Epilepsy and cerebral localization (1941) Graphic material used in The cerebral cortex of man (1950). Correspondence from Jean Jefferson Penfield to WGP (arranged as bundled) Correspondence from Jean Jefferson Penfield to WGP (arranged as bundled) Correspondence from Jean Jefferson Penfield to WGP (arranged as bundled) Material concerning Epilepsy and the functional anatomy of the human brain. Fig. 17 and Fig. 22 WGP-Rasmussen cerebra 1 cortex of man. Helen Kermott Penfield, memorabilia & correspondence. Correspondence from Jean Jefferson Penfield to WGP (arranged as bundled)
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Wilder Penfield Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the documents in the fonds.

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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).

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Biographical history

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.

Custodial history

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.

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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

  • English

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The documents are in English

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Digital surrogates of many items available in the Wilder Penfield Digital Collection

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Case files restricted.

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Items can be requested for consultation online via the Library Catalogue or by email at Advance notice is recommended.

Associated materials


General note

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

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