Records of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Scope and Content

  • TM/1 Constitution
  • TM/2 AGM and Annual Report
  • TM/3  Honorary Secretary
  • TM/4  Dean
  • TM/5  Director
  • TM/6  Committee/ Council
  • TM/7  Executive Management Committee
  • TM/8  Finance Committee and General Finance
  • TM/9  Voluntary Funds Committee
  • TM/10  Professional Committee
  • TM/11  Staff Academic Committee
  • TM/12  Sub-Committees and Groups
  • TM/13  School Administration incorporating Dean's Office and Director's Office
  • TM/14  Library
  • TM/15  Editorial Committee ("Annals")
  • TM/16  Medals and Prizes
  • TM/17  Expeditions
  • TM/18  School Outposts
  • TM/19  Museum/ Learning Laboratory
  • TM/20  Medical Illustration
  • TM/21  Departments/ Divisions
  • TM/22  Collaborative Programmes
  • TM/23  Clinical Records
  • TM/24  Overseas Development Administration Work Programmes
  • TM/25  School Publications
  • TM/26  Unidentified Material

Administrative / Biographical History

Founded in 1898, against the backdrop of the British colonial era, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was the World's first institution devoted primarily to tropical health.

The increase in the volume of trade between Britain and the West African coast in the latter half of the nineteenth century resulted in a dramatic increase in patients suffering from 'tropical' diseases such as malaria arriving in Britain. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, was prompted to appeal for the provision of special instruction in Tropical Medicine for doctors employed in the colonial service. His appeal was answered at the Annual Dinner of the students of the Liverpool Royal Southern Hospital on 12 November 1898 by Alfred Lewis Jones, one of the founders of the Elder Dempster shipping line, who recognised the serious threat posed by these diseases not only to the lives of his employees but also to the shipping line's profits. Jones' proposal to contribute £350 per annum for three years to the study of Tropical Medicine was accepted by William Adamson, the President of the hospital. Proposals were drawn up to form a Committee for the running of the Liverpool School of Tropical Diseases, later to become the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and the School was established with Professor Rubert Boyce as its first (honorary) Dean.

Initially the School was dependent on the facilities offered by the the Royal Southern Hospital and University College, the forerunner to the University of Liverpool, having its base in the Thompson-Yates Ward at the Hospital and a few rooms at the Thompson-Yates Laboratories in the College. In 1903 the School occupied part of the newly-built William Johnson Laboratories next to the Thompson-Yates Laboratories and in 1914 the School's own Sir Alfred Lewis Jones Tropical Ward and Clinical Laboratory opened at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary. It wasn't until 1920, however, that the School was able to occupy its own purpose-built premises in Pembroke Place, which were completed in 1915 but taken over for use as a military hospital for tropical diseases during the First World War, thus delaying the School's taking possession.

The School's first course of instruction, the Diploma in Tropical Medicine (DTM), was established in 1904, and a Diploma in Tropical Hygiene (DTH) was established in 1926, but its early years were also characterised by renowned achievements in scientific research. The first Professor of Tropical Medicine at the School, Sir Ronald Ross, was the first person to trace the connection between malaria and mosquitoes and in 1902 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his achievement. Between 1899 and 1914 the School sent no fewer than thirty-two expeditions to the Tropics, including Sierra Leone, the Congo and the Amazon. It was during the School's Twelfth Expedition to the Congo in 1904 that Joseph Everett Dutton discovered the nature of the transmission of tick-borne relapsing fever before contracting and dying from the disease in 1905 before the expedition had returned.

The School also established out-posts both at home and abroad. In 1904 it established a laboratory in two adjoining cottages in Runcorn, Cheshire and in 1905 the School's first overseas laboratory was established in Manáos, Brazil. The laboratory at Runcorn was to close in 1914 owing to staff shortages while the centre at Manáos was eventually to be handed over to the local authorities. In 1921 the School's Sir Alfred Jones Laboratory was opened in Freetown, Sierra Leone, but this was also to close in 1914, again owing to staffing shortages.

The School played an important role not only in the First but in the Second World War also. In 1941, teaching on the DTM and DTH courses ceased so that the School could concentrate its resources on providing instruction for medical officers in the armed forces. After the war, the DTM and DTH began again but in 1946 were combined to form the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The end of the Second World War was a turning point in the life of the School and the appointment of Brian Maegraith as Professor of Tropical Medicine in 1945, and also as Dean from 1946-1975, marked a broadening of the School's outlook and curriculum to take into account the needs of the developing world. In the following decades the School became increasingly characterised by the international as well as tropical dimension to its work. The establishment in 1973 of the Department of Tropical Paediatrics by Professor Ralph Hendrickse was a pioneering move, bridging a gap in the education of those concerned with child and maternal health, while the restructuring and renaming of the Department of International Community Health in 1978 and its work, led in particular by Professor Kenneth Newell, reflected the evolution of the School's concern for health in relation to geographical location to concern for health in relation to socio-economic status, and interest in areas of study such as population dynamics, family planning and environmental health.

The division of its activities into separate departments had characterised the internal organisation of the School from the early days until the 1990s. In March 1990 an Academic Review Working Party was established under the Chairmanship of Sir Arnold Burgen to carry out a fundamental review of the academic, administrative and financial structures of the School. Its report recommended the appointment of a full time executive Director to be chief administrative, academic and executive officer of the School in place of the existing system of a part-time, elected Dean. It also recommended the integration of the existing departments into a single Department within the Faculty of Medicine with the Director as the Academic Head, and the introduction of new teaching and research divisions within the Department. The recommendations of the report were implemented in a move which heralded the beginning of a new era. The School's first Director, Professor David Molyneux., was appointed on 1 January 1992.

The School has continued largely on this model since the early 1990s and continues to be an international postgraduate centre of excellence, devoted to research, education and training, and consultancy in the field, maintaining extensive links with UN organisations, health ministries, universities, non-governmental organisations and research institutions worldwide, and with involvement in numerous programmes to control diseases of poverty and to develop more effective systems for health care.

Many early documents relating to the School were lost following an unfortunate "clearing out" operation by the Secretariat in the Chamber of Commerce, members of which had traditionally served as School officers and Committee members, during the Second World War. Those archives which survived this clearing out and those which were subsequently collected were stored in the School's Library and in other parts of the the School until the 1970s when an archivist was employed to arrange and catalogue the records. The records were subsequently transferred to Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool in 1998.


Material is largely arranged to reflect the structure of the School and based partly on the arrangement put in place in the 1970s with some alteration.

Access Information

Access open to Bona Fide researchers except where stated. This collection is subject to the standard closure period of 30 years [i.e. records that are less than 30 years old may not be served]. Printed material that has previously been in the public realm is excluded from this closure period.

Acquisition Information

Received from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 1998 , accession number D745.


Two photographs: one of staff and students, including Professors R.M.Gordon and Warrington and one of Dr Ronald Seaton and Sister in Charge, Tropical Diseases ward, Royal Infirmary.

Six photographs depicting the visit of the Minister of Health of Togoland, various staff and students and the view west down Pembroke Place.

Other Finding Aids

Available in hard copy and on-line

Archivist's Note

A large portion of the material listed here was originally listed in the 1970s but was rearranged and re-listed, along with the unlisted material, in 2004-5.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request.

Appraisal Information

The material has been appraised and any duplicates or ephemeral material has been removed.

Custodial History

Previously in the custody of the School.


Future accruals from the School are expected.

Related Material

Two photographs: one of staff and students, including Professors R.M.Gordon and Warrington and one of Dr Ronald Seaton and Sister in Charge, Tropical Diseases ward, Royal Infirmary.

Six photographs depicting the visit of the Minister of Health of Togoland, various staff and students and the view west down Pembroke Place.

The following records, relating to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine , are also held within the University Archives:

  • D.759Photographs relating to Dr Ronald Seaton
  • D.760 Photographs relating to the School from 1959-1967


Kelly, Thomas
For Advancement of Learning: The University of Liverpool, 1881-1981 Liverpool University Press, 1981Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine: Historical Record, 1898-1920Liverpool University Press, 1920Miller, Patricia J.
Malaria, Liverpool: An illustrated history of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 1898-1998 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, 1998Power, Helen J.
Tropical Medicine in the Twentieth Century: A History of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 1898-1990 Kegan Paul International, 1999