Papers of Alcock, Alfred William (1859-1933)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Alfred Wiliam Alcock, 1906-1920s, comprise autobiographical notes on his life and correspondence on the status of zoology in India and the unsatisfactory condition of the Indian Museum, Calcutta.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alfred William Alcock was born in Bombay on June 23 1859, the son of Captain John Alcock. Alcock's school years at Westminster were cut short by his father's financial difficulties, he was sent to India at the age of 17, to relatives in the coffee trade. For five years he tried out a number of jobs including schooolmastering; during this time he became interested in science, helped by Michael Foster's physiology textbook. In 1881 a brother-in-law, an officer in the Indian Civil Service, offered to help him to a medical education, which he completed at Aberdeen in three and a half years graduating MB, CM in 1885. Adding a course in tropical medicine at Netley to his qualifications, Alcock then spent another 20 years in India, in the Indian Marine Survey, as Surgeon-Naturalist, with the Indian Museum in Calcutta, and keeping in touch with medicine at the Medical College Hospital.

On his return to London, Patrick Manson recruited him, in 1906, to head a new medical entomology department, to join Leiper's helminthology and Wenyon's protozoology at the School of Tropical Medicine at the Albert Dock. He was the author of the first comprehensive textbook of Entomology for Medical Officers in 1911; in 1921 he became the first Professor of Medical Zoology in the University of London. His influence on the development of the London School was much greater than that of a mere teacher of medical entomology. He became an active architect; he embellished the school museum; he collected and arranged a large collection of insects of medical importance. He was largely concerned with the foundation of the Tropical Diseases Library based to a great extent on the books which Manson had collected. He was a frequent contributor to the short-lived Journal of the London School of Tropical Medicine which flourished for a time under his guidance but which was discontinued in 1913. Alcock died in 1933.

Publications include Report on the natural history results of the Pamir boundary commission (Calcutta, 1898) and Entomology for medical officers (London, 1911).

Arrangement

Arranged in original order.

Conditions Governing Access

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 www.lshtm.ac.uk/library/archives.

Acquisition Information

Library stamp dated 2nd March 1948.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available online.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Victoria Killick, LSHTM Archivist and edited by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer. 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 Limited, 2001) and History of the School of Tropical Medicine in London (1899-1949) by Sir Philip Manson-Bahr, (H K Lewis & Co Ltd, 1956, London).

Related Material

Natural History Museum holds papers and drawings (Reference: DF252).