Medieval European Medical Manuscripts

This working group focuses on manuscripts from the Osler Library at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and Wellcome Collection (London,UK) as the starting point for exploring a range of aspects of medieval European medicine, science and culture. It brings together emerging and advanced scholars from history of medicine, history of science, art history and manuscript studies, to create a cross-disciplinary and collaborative dialogue. While aiming to stimulate research in the overall field of medieval medicine and science, the group aims to promote awareness of the interrelationships between the Osler and Wellcome collections, and other collections globally. There is also a specific goal to set in motion a scholarly edition of a newly acquired early 16th-century French manuscript at the Osler Library and to further research on a late 15th-century French manuscript at Wellcome Collection, both of which are available digitally.

Upcoming Meetings

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  • Thursday, January 28, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST

    28th January:     Setting the scene: the Osler’s François II de Rohan manuscript and Wellcome Western MS. 626 (Mary Yearl, Anna Dysert, Faith Wallis, Elma Brenner, Julia Nurse). To view the digitized manuscripts, see:
    Overview (Elma): Presentation of the working group and its aims (5 minutes)
    Introductions (all members): (10 minutes)
    Osler MS (Faith): Preliminary presentation on the Osler MS and Francois de Rohan (10 minutes)
    Wellcome MS (Julia and Elma): Preliminary presentation on the Wellcome MS, its herbal content and images (Julia) and recipes (Elma) (10 minutes)

  • Thursday, February 25, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EST


  • Thursday, March 25, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, April 29, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, May 27, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, June 24, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, July 29, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, August 26, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, September 30, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


  • Thursday, October 28, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT


Group Conveners

  • Elma Brenner

    Elma Brenner (PhD, LMS) is a Research Development Specialist at Wellcome Collection and Co-Editor of Social History of Medicine. At Wellcome Collection she supports research on the medieval and early modern European collections and leads on work with early career researchers. Her own research focuses especially on health and religious culture in late medieval France and in 2020 she received a Dr. Edward H. Bensley Research Travel Grant from the Osler Library to study the Osler’s newly acquired French manuscript that is a focus of this working group. Her publications include Leprosy and charity in medieval Rouen (2015) and ‘From medieval embroidery to human skin: engaging with remarkable objects from the Wellcome Library’ (2016), and she is co-editor of Leprosy and identity in the Middle Ages: from England to the Mediterranean (forthcoming 2021).


  • Anna Dysert

    Anna Dysert is an associate librarian at McGill University Library, where she currently works in rare book and archival cataloguing. She holds an MA from the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, and an MLIS in Archival Studies from McGill’s School of Information Studies. She is currently working on a doctoral thesis on the 12th-century Latin manuscripts of Isaac Israeli’s Universal and Particular Diets.


  • Julia Nurse

    Julia Nurse is a Research Development Specialist at Wellcome Collection who currently runs the Exploring Research Seminar programme. With a background in art history and museum studies, her interests focus on the interaction of medicine, science and art within the context of print culturei n the Early Modern period. She sits on the committee of the Herbal History Research Network and has in recent times been focusing on research around the use of plants within herbals from the Medieval to Early Modern periods. She has contributed to numerous exhibitions and digital articles at Wellcome Collection, notably one on Plant Portraits which focused on one of the manuscripts at the heart of the research of this working group. Previously, Julia worked within the Prints and Drawings department at the British Museumas an Assistant Curator.


  • Faith Wallis

    Professor Faith Wallis (Ph.D. Toronto 1985) is jointly appointed in the Department of History and Classical Studies and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University. Her research focuses on the textual and manuscript transmission of medical and scientific knowledge (particularly computus) in the Middle Ages. Her anthology of translated sources, Medieval Medicine: a Reader, was published by University of Toronto Press in 2010. She is presently editing the writings of Bartholomeus ‘of Salerno’, a key figure in the emergence of academic medicine in the twelfth century. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.


  • Mary Yearl

    Mary Hague-Yearl (MLIS, PhD) is the Osler Librarian at the Osler Library of the History of Medicine and an Associate Member of McGill’s Department of Social Studies of Medicine. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the medical and spiritual functions of regular bloodletting in medieval monastic life. In 2020-2021, she has resumed her research as a Folger Institute Fellow, pursuing a project entitled “Bloodletting in the first 150 years of printing: a window into vernacular medicine.” In her work at the Osler Library, she often engages in lessons about representation in medicine; medical ethics; and subcultures of medical knowledge. It is related to this last area that she is most interested in engaging with this working group to discover new approaches to the study of the Library’s recipe books.


16 Members