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Donovan, Charles (1863-1951)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 MSS.2208-2216 and 5692-5697
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Donovan, Charles (1863-1951)
Date(s): 1889-1921
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 6 volumes and 10 files or bundles of unbound papers
Name of creator(s): Donovan | Charles | 1863-1951 | physician and specialist in tropical medicine
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Charles Donovan was born in 1863 and gained his M.D. from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1889, joining the Indian Medical Service. After active service on the North-West Frontier he became Professor of Physiology at Madras Medical College and Superintendent of Royahpettah Hospital. He discovered the causative agent of the disease kala-azar in what were later named "Leishman-Donovan bodies". He died in 1951.


Scope and content/abstract:

MSS.2208-2216 comprise notebooks and essays. MSS.2210-2211 are broader in subject than the rest of this block of material, comprising lectures in physiology; the remainder of the manuscripts in this block focus on issues of specifically tropical medicine. Kala-azar and malaria are particularly featured. MS.2208 also includes a list of birds in Dunduan. MSS.5692-5697 consist of illustrative material (primarily water-colours from microscope slides relating to tropical parasitic diseases), correspondence, cuttings and offprints, and miscellaneous other papers relating to Donovan's work on tropical medicine.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English; some German and French material in MS.5696.

System of arrangement:

MSS.2208-2216 are held in chronological order of composition. MSS.5692-5697 are arranged as follows: MSS.5692-5694, drawings; MS.5695, letters to Donovan; MS.5696, cuttings and offprints of articles on tropical medicine, by Donovan and others; MS.5697, miscellaneous papers including a photograph of a beri-beri sufferer and a drawing of cancrum oris in a case of kala-azar.

Conditions governing access:

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

Conditions governing reproduction:

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.

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) and 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). Detailed catalogue available at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented by Dr. Cecil J. Hackett in 1952 (accession number 96196).

Allied Materials

Related material:

WTI/DON in the Wellcome Library comprises correspondence between Donovan and Mrs Amy Skelland (1883-1972) on Leishmania research in Madras, 1903-1904, and on herbal medicine; plus Mrs Skelland's microscopical and clinical pictures from the Royapettah Hospital, Madras, 1917-1921.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

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.

Rules or conventions:
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.

Date(s) of descriptions:
December 2000.

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