Friday, 30 September 2011

Collection of the month: the class of 1911

This month, as students prepare for the start of a new academic year, we are looking back at the London School of Tropical Medicine official staff and student photograph taken 100 years ago to mark the autumn term in 1911. The photograph shows fifty-seven students and members of staff, including laboratory assistants, lecturers and administrators, and notes the absence of a further twenty.

Seated in the second row at the centre of the photograph sits Sir Patrick Manson, the founder of LSTM and (by general agreement) ‘the father of tropical medicine’, then one year away from retiring for health reasons. Next to him is his close friend Dr Charles Daniels (sixth from left), who had distinguished himself by confirming Ronald Ross’ 1898 discovery of the complete life-cycle of avian malaria, in Calcutta. The then director of the School, Dr Hugh Newham sits in the same row (fifth from right). Recently returned from a four month stint at the Georgetown laboratory and hospital in British Guiana, he was in the first year of his directorship, which continued, interrupted by a couple of years as consultant in tropical diseases to the East African forces during the First World War, until the School received its Royal Charter in 1924.

Some of those pictured are ex-students who stayed on to become demonstrators after completing their studies. One of these is Philip Bahr (third row, fourth from right), who later married Manson’s daughter and became a leader in the field of tropical medicine as Philip Manson-Bahr. Also shown is Robert Mackay (standing at the front on the far left), labelled as ‘Robert’, a laboratory assistant who served at the school from its foundation, when he was only 14, until his accidental death in 1928. His skill was already well respected within the School, especially since his discovery of the organism in the first case of human trypanosomiasis in England in 1902.

Sixty-four students enrolled for the 37th session, which ran from October to December 1911. Those shown include William Moore (back row, fourth from left), who went on to receive an OBE for his work in the Hong Kong Government Medical Service, where he rose to become deputy director of medical and sanitary services, and Hugh Stannus (third row, second from left), who received a number of honours in recognition of his contribution to tropical medicine, including a CBE. He served as principal medical officer to the Nyasa-Rhodesian Forces during the First World War and worked for Ministry of Health in the Second World War. Three of the students were women, who went on to work as medics in India and China after leaving the School. By this time, around 5 per cent of the students who had passed through the school were female.

If you would like to find out more about the history of the School or our archive collections visit our webpage here or email us at

Philippa Mole

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