Papers of: Manson, Sir Patrick (1844-1922)

Scope and Content

The collection comprises case notes of patients in Amoy and Hong Kong, correspondence, including a typed copy of one to Sir David Bruce (1855-1931) and some miscellaneous papers; the correspondence includes some letters neither to nor from Manson but kept by him, including one from David Livingstone (1813-1873) to his family. Particularly noteworthy is MS.6133, typescript copies of letters from Ronald Ross to Manson written during the former's period of malaria research in India (1897-1899).

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 for the Chinese imperial maritime customs, moving to Amoy in 1871. Here, while working on elephantoid diseases, he discovered in the tissues of blood-sucking mosquitoes the developmental phase of filaria worms. From 1883 to 1889 he was based in Hong Kong, where he set up a school of medicine that developed into the university and medical school of Hong Kong. Returning to London, he became physician to the Seaman's Hospital in 1892. He played a central role in the development of tropical medicine as a distinct discipline, publishing on tropical diseases, being instrumental in the setting up of the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1899, and becoming physician and advisor to the Colonial Office in 1897. He propounded the theory that malaria was propagated by mosquitoes, a theory to be proved by Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932). He was made F.R.S. in 1900 and K.C.M.G. in 1903; he died in 1922.


MSS.3417 and 6129 comprise case notes, the latter spanning Manson's times in Amoy and Hong Kong and the former covering only Hong Kong. MSS.6130, 6132-6133 and 7245 comprise correspondence; MS.7245 letters by Manson; MS.6130 original letters to Manson; MS.6132 letters by figures connected with tropical medicine, probably written to Manson; and MS.6133 copies of letters to Manson from Ronald Ross. MS.6131 comprises miscellaneous papers including letters neither to nor from Manson, one of them from David Livingstone (1813-1873) to his family.

Access Information

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

MSS.3417 and 6129-6132 presented by Sir Philip Manson-Bahr in 1961 (accession number 312264) and 1966 (accession number 312767). MS.7245/1-2 purchased Sotheby's, London, May 1930 (acc.52792); MS.7245/3-4, accession details not recorded.

Other Finding Aids

Described in: S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973); Richard Palmer, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Wellcome Library for the History & Understanding of Medicine: Western Manuscripts 5120-6244 (London: The Wellcome Library for the History & Understanding of Medicine, 1999); and subsequent typescript supplementary finding aids by Richard Aspin, Christopher Hilton, Keith Moore and Richard Palmer.

Collection level description available on-line on the Wellcome Library website

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

holograph and typescript material; bound volumes and files of loose papers.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Christopher Hilton based upon those in the Library's published finding aids by S.A.J. Moorat and Richard Palmer and subsequent typescript supplementary finding aids by Richard Aspin, Christopher Hilton, Keith Moore and Richard Palmer.

Separated Material

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Library holds papers of Manson, 1865-1964, including Manson's diaries, 1865-1879, including notes on the discovery of mosquitoes as carriers of malaria; bound notes of his discovery of filaria; original drawings of eggs of bilharzia, and the embryos of guinea worms and filaria; photographs of Manson.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Related Material

Wellcome Library also holds archives of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (WTI/RST), which include Manson papers. MS.6931, papers of Sir James Cantlie, includes some Manson material.