Historical Collections


The Heritage Advisory Committee was established in 2002 by former Principal Bernard Shapiro in response to the concerns of a number of academics regarding the state of McGill University’s heritage collections. Thanks to a grant from Principal Shapiro, the Committee undertook an assessment of these collections. The resulting publication, A Survey of Historical Collections at McGill University (2004), documents thirty special collections in museums, departments and libraries on both McGill campuses.

McGill began accumulating cultural property by virtue of acquisition or donation even before the university itself was established. At the Montreal Medical Institute, which became McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, specimens were collected and used as teaching tools as early as 1822. Articles published about early collections gained international recognition for faculty members such as Andrew Fernando Holmes and Sir William Dawson. Their collections and others had a major influence on building McGill’s reputation as a learned institution.


The Osler Library of the History of Medicine was founded with Sir William Osler’s personal book collection, which he had carefully assembled as a resource for future medical students, a contribution to an elevated level of scholarship that goes far beyond the generosity of his gift. Research materials, such as the fragile scientific equipment used by Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford, displayed along with his hand-written notes, also serve as an inspiration to students who can witness the process of past discoveries and the achievements of one of McGill’s own.

It was in celebration of this tradition of excellence that the Heritage Advisory Committee presented the Historical Collections websites to the extended McGill community in September 2010.  The original Principal’s Heritage Advisory Committee was Prof. Annmarie Adams, Julia Gersovitz,
Prof. Graham Bell,
Prof. David Green,
The Honourable Nicholas Kasirer,
Pamela Miller,
Prof. Sherry Olson,
Theresa Rowat, and
Prof. Brian Young.

The work of the committee continues with plans to update the website, host a conference, and to produce a publication.  The current committee members are:

Annmarie Adams, Chair
Anna Dysert
Richard Fraser
Jennifer Garland
David Green
David Noble Harpp
Barbara Lawson
Robert Michel
Pamela Miller
Marianna Newkirk
Theresa Rowat


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