Delving into the mysteries of our slide collections…

We have some amazing volunteers doing fantastic work helping us uncover more about our collections. Regina and Alix started volunteering with the Science Museum in October 2011, and are currently working on a project to catalogue the museum’s extensive microscope slide collections. Here’s the first in a series of blogs they’ve written to let you know more about what they’ve discovered in the basement of our store at Blythe House

Some of the thirty-seven slide cabinets collected by Frank Horrocks (Source: Science Museum, London)

Imagine a room full to the brim with curious wooden cabinets, that haven’t been touched for over 40 years. That’s currently where we’re working, cataloguing these cabinets to make make them more accessible to researchers and exhibition organisers.

Each cabinet contains hundreds of microscope slides, covering a range of topics, from histology and biology to geology and even photography (tiny images of people’s portraits)! As well as researching and documenting these slide collections, we also hope to find out more about who put together these collections – who mounted the specimens, how they did it and why.

We, somewhat arbitrarily, started with the Frank Horrocks collection of slides, which was acquired by the museum in 1979. After doing some digging, we discovered that Frank Threapleton Horrocks (1916-1978) was a dentist and avid collector of microscopical preparations.

Frank Threapleton Horrocks (1916-1978) (source: Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club)

He was particularly interested in the history of microscopy and was heavily involved in the Quekett Microscopical Club. Not only was Frank Horrocks a collector, he also undertook microscopy courses at Belstead House, Suffolk, where he mounted his own specimens.

Some nice examples of Horrocks' own preparations, a section of a Caterpillar, something that looks like a Flea but is too big to be one (answers on a postcard), and the respiratory system of a Silkworm (Source: Science Museum, London)

So far we have looked through 4099 slides and are barely half way through!

We owe special thanks to Steve Bell of the Quekett Microscopical Club and Ernie Ives and Faith Hicks of Belstead House who have helped us in our quest to find out more about Frank Horrocks.

We’ll aim to keep you updated with our progress and also share interesting or important finds with you.

One thought on “Delving into the mysteries of our slide collections…

  1. Martin Horrocks

    Frank Horrocks was my father. He collected microscopes, dental equipment and books too. He was one of the curators of the British Dental Association musium in London. If I can help in any way, let me know.

    Reply

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