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Achievements and legacy

Maude Abbott accomplished a tremendous amount of work after being appointed curator of the McGill University Medical Museum in 1901. Aware of the educational potential of the museum’s collection of specimens for medical education, she held weekly pathological demonstrations for medical students with her legendary enthusiasm.

“Untiring, generous, enthusiastic, Dr. Abbott made events live and specimens speak, said Dr. Helen MacMurchy in her posthumous tribute.

When a terrible fire destroyed much of the collection in the spring of 1907, Maude and her colleagues managed to save the Osler specimens, the “Holmes heart” and the classification catalogues from the flames. Maude described the unfortunate episode as follows:

“Nearly everything was on the floor, in the midst of burst jars and ashes, and students and Museum secretary and I worked for some 46 hours on end carrying them … to a room … where we washed, identified and salvaged them.

Page 1 of the list of members of the International Association of Medical Museums to January 1, 1934. Black ink on white paper. The list is in two columns and indicates the year of admission to the association, name and address. The first entry on this page reads “1907 – Abbott, Maude E., Curator, Medical Museum, McGill Univ. Montreal, Canada”. There is a handwritten note in pencil in the upper right corner of the page: “Maude E. Abbott md., permanent international secretary.”

List of members, International Association of Medical Museums, January 1st, 1934

To remedy the situation, Maude Abbott founded the International Association of Medical Museums and appealed to its member institutions to help her rebuild the collection. The IAMM would enable her to develop an international network for exchanging specimens, promote uniform museum standards, and create travelling exhibits to disseminate the collections both in Europe and North America.


Colour poster of the annual conference of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada in 1999. Across the top of the poster, in blue letters, is written “Federation of Medical Women of Canada 1924 – 1999”. Below this and to the left is the title of the conference. To the right of the title, there are three superimposed images. The first is a photograph of three young women wearing white lab coats. Behind them is a portrait of Maude Abbott, and in the foreground, Dr. Charmaine Roye giving a speech. The bottom half of the poster lists the topics to be presented and contact information for the association.

Poster celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, 1924-1999


Maude Abbott was one of six pioneering women who founded the Federation of Medical Women of Canada in 1924. Her dedication to this organization over many years demonstrates her commitment to the advancement of women physicians.



In 1999, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada began petitioning Tom Reynolds, a manager at Canada Post, for the creation of a series of commemorative stamps honouring medical women, the first of which would feature Maude Abbott.

Front of a black and white postcard showing a portrait of Maude Abbott as a young adult, from the waist up. She is wearing a dark graduation gown. Her dark hair is tied behind her head and she is looking slightly to the left.

Postcard with a picture of Maude Abbott

Back of the Maude Abbott postcard created by the Federation of Medical Women.

Letter at the back of the Maude Abbott postcard







In 2000, Canada Post issued a commemorative postage stamp in honour of Maude Abbott entitled, in English, The heart of the matter and in French, Les premiers pas en chirurgie cardiaque. This outstanding tribute is a recognition of Maude Abbott’s contribution to the educational mission of the McGill Medical Museum in the teaching of pathology. The image used for the stamp is a portrait painted by Maude’s childhood friend, artist Mary Elizabeth Bell Eastlake.

Maude Abbott tribute stamp, colour. It shows a wooden-framed painting of an elderly Maude Abbott wearing a red gown and holding a book, with the inscription “Dr. Maude Abbott 1940” to the left of the portrait. The painting is in front of a grey-green brick wall with the Rod of Asclepius to the right. In front of the painting are 12 red roses, and “Canada” and “46” are written in white in the lower left and right corners.

Postage stamp honouring Maude Abbott for the year 2000