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BAGSHAWE, Sir Arthur William Garrard (1871-1950)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-BAGSA
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
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Full title: BAGSHAWE, Sir Arthur William Garrard (1871-1950)
Date(s): 1908-1909
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 files
Name of creator(s): Bagshawe | Sir | Arthur William Garrard | 1871-1950 | Knight | physician and tropical medicine specialist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir Arthur William Garrard Bagshawe was born at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, in 1871, the second son of the Rev. Alfred Drake Bagshawe. He was educated at Marlborough, where his interest in Natural History was already apparent, and then at Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained a first class in Part I of the Natural Science Tripos in 1892. He then went to St George's Hospital, where he graduated MB, BCh in 1895. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (LRCP).

Bagshawe held a house appointment at the Royal Northern Hospital until 1898 when he joined the Colonial Medical Service, and was posted to Uganda. In 1900 he became a medical officer of the Uganda Protectorate. He was a member of the Lango Expedition in 1901 and of the Anglo-German Boundary Commission, defining the borders of Tanganyika, Tanzania, 1902-4. As a consequence he became familiar with the medical problems of East Africa. Trypanosomiasis was epidemic in Uganda at the time, indeed little was known about the tsetse fly and the treatment of sleeping sickness. Bagshawe `quickly became one of the most distinguished workers on trypanosomiasis' (BMJ, 1950, i, p.847). In 1906-7 he was employed on a sleeping sickness investigation in Uganda, and was the first to discover the pupae of Glossina palpalis in their natural breeding ground. During his service he was able to indulge his interest in the local flora and fauna, and made extensive collections of specimens of rare plants, which he subsequently gave to the British Museum (to the section which later became the Natural History Museum).

An international conference to consider the problem of trypanosomiasis was held in London during 1907-8, at the behest of the British Government. It was recommended that a central international bureau be established to extract up-to-date information on sleeping sickness, and disseminate it to researchers and investigators in the field. Whilst an international bureau did not materialise, a British Bureau, the Trypanosomiasis Bureau (or the Sleeping Sickness Bureau), was established. In 1908 Bagshawe became its first Director. In the same year Bagshawe took the Cambridge Diploma in Public Health (DPH).

Between 1908 and 1912 Bagshawe produced four valuable volumes containing articles which treated special aspects of trypanosomoiasis in detail, as well as abstracts of the current literature, an exhaustive bibliography, and maps showing the known distribution of sleeping sickness and tsetse flies in Africa. These articles also appeared in the Bureau's monthly Sleeping Sickness Bulletins. It has been said that `the care he gave to their preparation set up new standards in medical abstracting' (The Lancet, 1950, i, p.694).

In 1912 the Trypanosomiasis Bureau became the Tropical Diseases Bureau, the work on sleeping sickness having been so successful that the idea was extended to other diseases. During this time Bagshawe also held the office of Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 1917-21, and was its Treasurer, 1925-35, having been an original Fellow of the Society. In 1920 he was awarded the Mary Kingsley Medal of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. A further change to the Bureau occurred in 1926, when it became the Bureau of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, the new name providing a much better reflection of its functions. Bagshawe was also the Editor of the Tropical Diseases Bulletin and the Bulletin of Hygiene.

Bagshawe was for a time a member of the expert committee of the Health Committee of the League of Nations, dealing with tuberculosis and sleeping sickness in equatorial Africa. He was knighted in 1933, having received in 1915 the CMG (Companion (of the Order) of St Michael and St George).

Retirement from his position as Director of the Bureau of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, and from his editorial work, came in 1935. From 1935-37 he was President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Of his contribution to the medical profession, it has been said that Bagshawe was `one of the real founders of scientific tropical medicine' (BMJ, p.848).

He had married Alice Mary Thornber in 1910, and they had had two sons. His wife died in 1944. Bagshawe died on 24 March 1950 in Cardiff, at the age of 78, after having joined one of his sons on his farm in South Wales the previous year.

Sleeping Sickness Bulletins (monthly publications of Bureau of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases)
Editor of the Tropical Diseases Bulletin & Bulletin of Hygiene


Scope and content/abstract:

Bagshawe's correspondence, in his role as Director of the Sleeping Sickness Bureau, 1908-9, with Professor Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), in English and German, and with Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922). Mostly on the subject of the work of the Bureau, and particularly the prevalence of sleeping sickness in Africa.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and German

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by Dr Charles Wilcocks, Director of the Bureau of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, October 1957

Allied Materials

Related material:

3 volumes of Bagshawe's botanical notebooks, 1906, are held at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Library and Archives. See the National Register of Archives for details.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: `Obituary: Sir Arthur Bagshawe', British Medical Journal, i, 8 April 1950, pp.847-48 [BMJ, 1950, i]; `Obituary: Arthur William Garrard Bagshawe', The Lancet, i, 8 April 1950, pp.693-94; Historical Manuscripts Commission On-Line National Register of Archives.
Compiled by Katharine Williams

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:
March 2003

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