Papers of Sir Patrick Manson

Scope and Content

Research papers, notes and drawings including Manson's diaries (1865-1879), containing notes on the discovery of mosquitoes as carriers of malaria and patient case notes, bound manuscript notes of his discovery of filaria (1877), original drawings of eggs of bilharzias and embryos of guinea worms (1893); publications by Manson; scientific artefacts including slides and glass vials containing mosquitoes; 30 volumes of medical examinations of candidates applying to work in the colonies and protectorates (1898-1919); photographs of Manson, his family, his birthplace and early photographs of the London School of Tropical Medicine; medals, awards and certificates given to Manson including the Fothergill, Bisset Hawkins, Mary Kingsley and Jenner medals; material on the Manson lectures (1950-1957); correspondence on tropical medicine matters (1900-1910) and relating to his will (1963-1964).

Administrative / Biographical History

Patrick Manson was born in 1844 and studied medicine at Aberdeen University, passing M.B. and C.M. in 1865. In 1866 he became medical officer of Formosa (Taiwan) for the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, moving to Amoy in 1871. His light duties allowed him to work in local missionary hospitals, in contact with Chinese patients and their diseases and he became aware of the shortcomings of British medical training when faced with tropical diseases. While working on elephantoid diseases in Amoy, he discovered in the tissues of blood-sucking mosquitoes the developmental phase of filaria worms. Seminal papers were published in 1878 and 1878.

In 1883 he left Amoy to set up in private practice in Hong Kong, where he was joined in 1887 by James Cantlie. Together they established a medical college to train young Chinese men in western medicine. This school, which opened in 1887, developed into the university and medical school of Hong Kong.

In 1889 Manson returned to London due to deteriorating health, however he had to go back to work when his comfortable retirement fortune was decimated by a sharp fall in the value of the Chinese dollar. Manson went back into practice in London, became physician to the Seaman's Hospital Society in 1892, and medical advisor to Chamberlain's Colonial Office in 1897. He played a central role in the development of tropical medicine as a distinct discipline, publishing on tropical diseases and was instrumental in the setting up of the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1899. He worked in the School until 1912 when he retired due to poor health.

He propounded the theory that malaria was propagated by mosquitoes, a theory to be proved by Sir Ronald Ross in 1897. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1900 and awarded CMG, 1900, KCMG in 1903, and GCMG, 1912; he died in 1922.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

Donated by the family, c1963.


Compiled by Erika Gwynett and Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Sources: Who's Who, Dictionary of National Biography, National Register of Archives and 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. Revised by Victoria Killick, LSHTM Archivist, August 2004.

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

Related Material

LSHTM: correspondence with Sir Ronald Ross on the mosquito-malaria theory (Ross/12-13; Ross/20).Wellcome Library holds papers, 1854-1922, including case notes of Manson at Amoy and Hong Kong, and correspondence including correspondence with Sir Ronald Ross, (Ref: MSS.3417, 6129-6132 and 7245); papers relating to the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Ref: WTI/RST/F).