Gillett, John David

Scope and Content

Papers of Professor John David Gillett, 1930-1993, relate to his work concerning mosquitoes and tropical diseases and comprise published and unpublished works by Gillett and others, and original research carried out by Gillett. The collection also includes teaching material such as handouts, lecture slides and files concerning various research projects undertaken throughout his career.

Published work includes 'The swarming habits of some Danish mosquitoes' by E T Nielson and H T Nielson, (Entomolgiske Meddeleber, 1963) and 'The essential role of temporal discontinuity in swarming insects' by J D Gillett (Flying Kites, Biologist, 1993). Unpublished work includes a copy of Gillett's bound PhD 'Embryonic Diapause in the genus aedes Meigen (Diptera: Culicadae)', 1952.

The collection also notably contains a notebook used by Gillett to collate research and encloses correspondence with Kenneth C Smithburn and A F Mahaffey of the Yellow Fever Research Institute, Uganda regarding samples, including mosquitoes, sent by Gillett, 1941.

In addition there is some teaching material and slides to support lectures given by Gillett and publications authored by Gillett.

There is also a file concerning Gillett's original appointment at the School in 1930 and his time as a laboratory assistant.

A larger series comprises several files concerning a variety of research projects carried out or contributed to by Gillett during his later years as well as some grey literature and biographical notes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Professor John David Gillett was born in 1913; began working with P A Buxton's Department of Entomology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1930 having failed nine O-Level subjects at school; his first appointment was feeding and general upkeep of the Department's colonies of living insects.

Gillett went to East Africa with H S Leeson to educate himself in the study of mosquitoes, 1936, staying on for the next 26 years in Uganda's Medical Department. This was only interrupted with visits to the UK to obtain degrees and during World War Two, when he spent a year on an island in Lake Victoria, attempting to control sleeping sickness by reducing the number of tsetse in the infected area - this was a short term solution and it eventually became necessary to evacuate the island's entire population. In 1941, an outbreak of yellow fever occurred in western Uganda and he was seconded to the Rockefeller Foundation's Yellow Fever Institute to work in Bwamba on the old Congo border.

Gillett chose to retake his O-levels and then A-levels and was accepted at University College London to read Zoology, Physiology and Biochemistry. He graduated in 1949, with first class honours and returned to Uganda with his wife and two children to rejoin Haddow at what had become the East African Virus Research Institute. In 1955 he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to study mosquito virus relations in the United States. After his return to Uganda he was appointed Assistant Director to Alec Haddow at the East African Virus Research Institute, where they collaborated in a study of periodic behaviour in mosquitoes. He awarded the DSc from London, 1960.

Gillett returned to Britain, 1962, and was elected to the Chair of Applied Biology at Brunel University where later he was appointed Head of Biological Sciences. After serving two years as Treasurer of the Royal Entomological Society of London, he was elected President, 1977-79, and retired, 1978, becoming a Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Gillett died in 1995.

Publications include: Mosquitoes (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1971); Yellow fever in western Uganda By Mahaffy, A. F., K. C. Smithburn, H. R. Jacopx and J. D. Gillettt. (Trans. R. Sox. Trop. Med. Hyg. 36, 1942) and The cyclical transmission of yellow fever virus through the grivet monkey, Cercopithecus aethiops centraZis Neumann, and the mosquito Aedes Megomyia africanus by Ross, R. W. and J. D. Gillett (Theobald. Ann. Trop. Med. Parasit. 44, 1950).


Arranged in original order where possible

Access Information

This collection is open for consultation. Please contact the Archivist to arrange an appointment. All researchers must complete and sign a user registration form which signifies their agreement to abide by the archive rules. All researchers are required to provide proof of identity bearing your signature (for example, a passport or debit card) when registering. Please see website for further information at

Acquisition Information

Various sources (some unclear).

Archivist's Note

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 (Kegan Paul, London, 2001); Oxford OPAC catalogue and Biography of John David Gillett (Mosquito Systematics Vol. 16(4), 1984). Compiled by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

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.

Appraisal Information

Many reprints either written by Gillett or collected by him were discarded since these publications can be found elsewhere in commonly used journals.



Related Material

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine holds related material within Volume LXIV (64) (Ross Institute/03) and (Leeson/01).