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Archives of the Department of Pathology, 1880 - 1996

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/PATH

Scope and Contents

Comprises photographs of buildings and staff members, building plans, material relating to the department's history and development, minute books of scholarship funds, stray lecture notes and 16" films. Much of the collection consists of photographic or illustrative material. There is very little material relating to the administration and governance of the department (such as minute books or committee records) and very little relating to the provision of teaching and research.


  • Creation: 1880 - 1996


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

The University Archives are generally freely available to the holder of a reader's ticket for the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Restrictions on access are imposed on certain categories of sensitive record: financial, governmental and personal, by order of the originating body or under data protection legislation. Access information, including opening hours and how to obtain a reader's ticket, appears as part of the Library's web site (

Biographical / Historical

Charles Smart Roy was elected to the first Chair in Pathology in 1883, although the subject of Pathology had long been included in the University’s teaching of Medicine and Human Anatomy. Roy was succeeded by Alfredo Kanthack (1897-8) and German Sims Woodhead (1894-1921). By this stage the Department had moved from modest rooms on the third floor of Fawcett’s Building on the New Museum's site, first occupied in 1879, to the Chemical Laboratory in 1888 (known as the Old Pathological Laboratory) and then to the new Medical School, opened in 1904 to house Medicine, Surgery, Midwifery, Pharmacology, Public Health and Pathology.

From 1899 courses in Bacteriology and Pathology were held in the Long Vacation for students preparing for their final MB examination. This popular course ('Bugs and Drugs') was phased out in 1910 when the MB Part II was introduced. From 1890 onwards Pathology was also being taught to candidates for the Diploma in Public Health. In 1907 10 acres was purchased on Milton Road for field laboratories. Taken over fully by the University in 1913, they later became part of the Department of Animal Pathology.

Henry Roy Dean was elected Professor of Pathology in 1921 and oversaw the move to the New Pathological Laboratory on Tennis Court Road at the rear of the old Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The building of the laboratory was funded by the Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1924 Pathology was included as a subject in Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos and in 1935 it became a subject in Part I of the same Tripos.

Ronald Greaves succeeded Dean in 1962. Before the Second World War, Greaves had developed a reliable method for freeze-drying plasma (later known as lyophilisation) which proved crucial during the war. Peter Wildy and Malcolm Ferguson-Smith were the other Professors of Pathology in the late 20th century. The Department, one of the largest in the School of Biological Sciences, now incorporates many sub-specialities including immunology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology and medical genetics. The Department remains based at the Tennis Court Road site, with some facilities and staff also based in the Laboratory Block at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.


0.54 cubic metre(s) (17 archive boxes, 8 albums, 1 wooden box of slides and 26 oversize folders)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Department of Pathology in June 2022.

Related Materials

Related material held in the Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library: Papers of George Stuart Graham-Smith (GBR/0012/MS Add.10151); volumes presented by W. Graham-Smith relating to the history of the Department (GBR/0012/MS Add.7331); Department of Pathology: Publications (GBR/0012/Ms Add.7330-1); History of the Department of Pathology (GBR/0012/MS Add.7328); Buildings occupied by the Department of Pathology (GBR/0012/MS Add.7329); Papers of Louis Cobbett (GBR/0012/MS Add.9273 and 10282).

Related material held in Cambridge University Archives: Archives of the Molteno Institute of Biology and Parasitology, 1908-87 (GBR/0265/UA/MOL); Minutes and accounts of the Field Laboratories Managing Committee 1912-29 (GBR/0265/UA/Min.VII.70-1, 183-4); Photograph headed 'Department of Pathology Part I [Natural Sciences]Tripos 1948' showing students and staff outside department building on Downing Site, 1948 (GBR/0265/UA/Phot.228).

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom