Learning Objectives

After completing this module, students will understand:

Monocular Compound Microscope

Step 1:  Objects and their Properties

For each object answer the following questions:

  1. What do you think the object is and why?
  2. When, where, by whom and for whom was it made?
  3. What, if any, changes in ownership, condition and function have occurred over time?
  4. What is it made out of? Do the materials suggest when it was made?
  5. What techniques were used to make it? Is it well made?
  6. What does the construction suggest about the date and use of the object?
  7. What is its physical structure, shape, size, style, ornamentation?
  8. What kind of writing does it have on it, if any?
  9. Does the construction or shape of the object(s) suggest their uses?
  10. For what was it originally intended?
  11. Who would have used this object and where? How has this changed over time?
  12. Identify it: what is the object and how can you tell?

Zeiss Monocular Compound Database Entry
Alternative Images
180° View (requires QuickTime) (1.2Mb)

Simple Perforated Plate Microscope Database Entry
Alternative Images
180° View (requires QuickTime) (1.2Mb)

Dr. Waugh's Brass Monocular Compound Database Entry
Alternative Images 
180° View (requires QuickTime) (1.2Mb)

Monocular Microscope Database Entry
Alternative Images
180° View (requires QuickTime) (1.2Mb)

Binocular Compound Microscope Database Entry
Alternative Images
180° View (requires QuickTime) (1.2Mb)

Step 2: The Meaning of an Artifact

For each object answer the following questions:
  1. Identify it: Has your research confirmed your original identification?
  2. Evaluate it: Rank its aesthetic and functional qualities, considering the material, texture, skill of craftsmanship, effectiveness of overall design, the expressiveness of its form, style and ornamentation. Compare it with other, similar objects and within the same time period.
  3. What does its function reveal about the philosophy of medicine and health at the time?
  4. What do the objects reveal about the relationship between laboratory science and medicine?
  5. How do the objects relate to the germ theory of disease?
  6. What does the location of its use reveal about the role of the doctor and the role of the patient in health and medicine?
  7. How might the status, values and meanings attached to a practitioner of medicine, or to a patient, be conveyed by the object?
  8. How and why does the legitimacy of the object, or the perception of its utility, change over time?
  9. What is the history of the patent information? Who created or designed the object?
  10. How did the use and connotations of the objects, or others like them, change the practice of medicine?

Beale, Lionel S. How to Work with the Microscope: A Course of Lectures on Microscopical Manipulation, and the Practical Application of the Microscope to Different Branches of Investigation. London: John Churchill, 1857: 1-3.

Gage, Simon Henry. The Microscope: An Introduction to the Microscopic Methods and to Histology. Dark-Field Edition, (14th) Revised. Ithaca, New York: The Comstock Publishing Company, 1925: 99-100.

Hanausek, Dr. T. F. The Microscopy of Technical Products. Trans. Andrew L. Winton. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1907: 3, 5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13.

Lee, Arthur Bolles. The Microchemist’s Vade-Mecum: A Handbook of the methods of Microscopic Anatomy. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston’s Son & Co., 1928: 652-653, 654- 655, 656.

Selected References for Further Research


Primary Sources

Pritchard, Andrew. Microscopic Illustrations of living objects, with rsearches concerning the methods of constructing microscopes, and instructions for using them. London: Whittaker and Co, 1845

Carpenter, William Benjamin.  The Microscope and its Revelations. Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1881. 

Secondary Sources

Kirk-Montgomery, Allison and Shelley McKellar. Medicine and Technology in Canada: 1900-1950. Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, 2008

Reynolds, Phyllis Allen. “American Attitudes Toward the Germ Theory of Diseases (1860-1880).” Journal of the History of Medicine 9 (1954): 428-454.

Tomes, Nancy. The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998.