Sir Ronald Ross’s Slides Explored & Explained


Students from the History & Health MSc module have often suggested that we put Sir Ronald Ross’s collection of malarial slides under the microscope. This collection, dating from the 1890s, in its beautiful wooden box, is one of my favourite items in the archive, so I have to admit I was a little nervous of undertaking such an experiment, but I had no need to worry!


Ross’s slide box

With the great expertise and enthusiasm of Ailie Robinson, Mojca Kristan and staff from the Public Health England Malaria Reference Laboratory and LSHTM Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory, slides were examined under the microscope, and wonderfully, they were still viable and presented some exciting results.

The staining techniques for slides – 2016 Archives-glass slides-18for example the use of gentian violet – has changed considerably since the 19th century, but oocysts and gametocytes were seen, and the results were photographed under the microscope by Cheryl Whitehorn.


Microscope, 1902

As part of Explore Your Archive week, the resulting images are being shown in the Manson foyer, Tuesday 21st November 12.30-2pm  along with rare books on the subject of malaria and a selection of Ross’s archives, including his prize brass microscope

Page 107 from Sir Ronald Ross diary noting moment of discover

Ross’s 1897 notebook

and his renowned notebook, where in 1897 he meticulously recorded his dissection of the mosquito mid-gut to prove the mosquito as malarial vector.

We have experts Cheryl Whitehorn, Mojca Kristan, William Stone and Claire Rogers on hand to explain the slides, and the archivists will be there to show you more details of Ross’s archive

See more event details here


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