The Story of Dr. James C. Connell and his Book of a Life

Did you have a baby book when you were little, where your parents would record information about your growth and health and development? The Museum of Health Care has a book sort of like that in our collection– only for adults! Dr. James C. Connell was the author of The Book of a Life, From Generation to Generation, which provided spaces for people to keep careful track of their health information throughout their entire lives.

James C. Connell

Born in 1863, Connell grew up to become an influential and prominent figure at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital. He was a graduate of Queen’s University and became the first director of its ophthalmology department, as he was an early specialist of surgery of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. He became Dean of Medicine in 1903, remaining in that position until 1929, spending those twenty-six years improving the medical education at Queen’s and expanding the scope of Kingston General Hospital– he even became the Principal of Queen’s for a short time!

The Book of a Life from Generation to Generation–Museum of Health Care 001043041. This book belonged to  Emma E. J. MacLean born on August 20, 1896, ninth child of twelve; first entry is at age 38 and last at age 88

He wrote his Book of a Life after he retired. He meant for the book to be a source of education to the public on both the importance of keeping health records and on healthy living standards. He is remembered as a good surgeon and teacher. To learn more about Dr. Connell and his Book of a Life, visit our blog at

Shaelyn Ryan <br>(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)
Shaelyn Ryan
(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)

Shaelyn Ryan is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, having completed her Bachelor’s degree in History in 2021, and is returning to Queen’s in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in History. Either as a Summer Student or Work-Study Student through Queen’s University, Shaelyn has helped catalogue and research many of the museum’s collection of artefacts as a Collections Technician (since 2018). 

Leave a Reply