Papers of John Gordon Thomson

Scope and Content

Personal file relating to his appointment, his position and work at the School, and his death (1914-1941) and correspondence with various individuals relating to tropical diseases including blackwater fever (1921-1929)

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Linlithgowshire, John Gordon Thomson graduated MA from Edinburgh University in 1903, and 5 years later qualified in medicine. After house appointments, he went to Liverpool as research student in tropical medicine in 1910, becoming pathologist to the Royal Southern Hospital and research fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. With a Beir Memorial research fellowship he went to the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1914. In 1915 he went to Egypt with Professor Robert Leiper on the bilharzia mission as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Later in the war he and his brother, Dr David Thomson, who had both enjoyed the patronage of Ronald Ross when they first went to Liverpool, worked at the War Office malaria research laboratories. After the war he was appointed Chair of Protozoology at the London School where was a gifted teacher, maintaining a collection of cultures of trypanosomes and other pathological organisms and blood films for teaching purposes.

In 1926 he was exchange lecturer in protozoology at the School of Hygiene, John Hopkins University, Baltimore. In 1936 he gave a series of lectures at Singapore for the League of Nations Special Course on Malaria. He travelled widely in South America and other tropical countries. In 1921-1922 he undertook two expeditions to Rhodesia to study blackwater fever. In 1926 he was in the West Indies, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama.

His publications include a book with Andrew Robertson, Protozoology for Medical Men. His contributions to the knowledge of blackwater fever were regarded as standard, while his methods of enumerating malaria parasites in the blood and cultivating these organisms were of great importance.

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Compiled by Victoria Killick, LSHTM Archivist. Sources: Prevention and Cure. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, A 20th Century Quest for Global Public Health. Lise Wilkinson and Anne Hardy. (2001). Kegan Paul Limited. History of the School of Tropical Medicine in London (1899-1949) by Sir Philip Manson-Bahr, 1956, H K Lewis&Co Ltd, London.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed computer catalogue is available for use in the Archives and the on-line archive catalogue will be available at from 2005

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist