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William Osler Abbott papers

Identifier: MSS 2/015

Scope and Contents

The William Osler Abbott papers consists of two collections. The first collection contains correspondence, reprints, and health and biographical notes, and was assembled by Catherine Leek, Abbott's secretary at the Gastro Intestinal Clinic at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The second collection documents his work with T. Grier Miller on intestinal intubation at the Gastro Intestinal Clinic and includes a technique book and correspondence, as well as records pertaining to the decline of Abbott's health due to myelogenous leukemia.

For a more detailed description of the materials included, please the "Scope and Content" note for each series.


  • 1931 - 1949


Biographical / Historical

William Osler Abbott was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on July 26, 1902. He was the son of a biologist, Alexander C. Abbott and Georgina Picton Osler, a niece of Sir William Osler. W. Osler Abbott, nicknamed "Pete", married Lucy Waldo in 1928. They had three children, Thomas William Osler, Ann Gatewood, and Lucy Featherstone. On September 10, 1943, Abbott died of myelogenous leukemia at Waquoit, Massachusetts.

Abbott received his A.B. in 1925 and his M.D. in 1928 from the University of Pennsylvania. He then served as an intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and from1931 to 1934, he had a part time affiliation with the Department of Pharmacology. Abbott then became a member of the Gastro Intestinal Clinic at Penn. At Penn, Abbott rose from Medical Fellow (1930-1931) to Instructor (1931-1937),then Associate (1937-1941) and finally, in 1941, he became an Assistant Professor of Medicine. In the following year, Abbott entered the U.S. Army with the rank of major. He was diagnosed as suffering from leukemia and then discharged. Abbott spent the remaining months of his life in leukemia research.

Most of Abbott's professional work and published writings concern his work with small intestinal intubation. He began to work with T. Grier Miller at Penn in 1930. In 1934, they developed the Miller Abbott Tube, a double lumen intestinal drainage tube for relief of distention. Abbott also worked with Arthur Joy Rawson and created, in 1937, the Abbott Rawson Tube, a double barrelled gastroenterostomy tube for use in postoperative care.

Abbott was a member of several professional organizations including the Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Clinical and Climatological Association, the American Gastroenterological Association, the Association of American Physicians, the Pathological Society of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Physiological Society. he was elected to fellowship in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1934.


.4 Linear feet (1 box, 1 folder)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The William Osler Abbott papers consists of two collections. The first collection was transferred to the College of Physicians from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania sometime after 1972. The second collection was donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Francis C. Wood in conjunction with a gift of his personal and professional papers in 1989.

For a more detailed provenance, please see the "Custodial History" note for each series.
William Osler Abbott papers
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States