Humboldt State University

Robert A. Paselk Scientific Instrument Museum

Early North Coast Scientific Instruments

c. 1850 – c. 1950

Richard Paselk, Curator

Microscopes for Health and Medicine

The microscope is one of the most powerful instruments for diagnosing disease and following pathology. It is critical to public health, and of such importance to the physician that purchasing a microscope has long been a prerequisite for medical school.

The Trichinosis Microscope was designed in Germany in the late 19th century to aid in the control of trichinosis, a muscle wasting disease caused by worms encysted in muscle, and common in pork. Its rugged design, simplicity and quality also made it a good microscope for home use. The “Physician’s” compound microscope includes the higher specifications needed for medicine and research: an oil-immersion high power objective for highest magnifications, an Abbe condenser to provide the illumination needed for oil immersion work, linear fine focusing, and bright, high-quality, standardized optics. This example, from a local doctor, is typical of the microscopes used by physicians from the early 20th century to today.


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HSTC (1921-34)
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HSC (1935-1953)
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HSC (1954-1973)

© R. Paselk

Last modified 20 February 2012