Papers on Anthrax

Archive reference: ANT

This small collection gives a fascinating insight into a disease that was famously identified with Bradford, the dark side of its innovative wool industry. Wool was shipped from across the world for sorting and processing in Bradford. Sometimes the materials were infected with anthrax. A third of cases were fatal and victims suffered terrible pain.

Two Bradford doctors played key roles in researching and removing the disease: Dr J.H. Bell, who established in 1879 that “woolsorters’ disease” was indeed anthrax, and Dr Fritz Eurich. In his capacity as bacteriologist to the Bradford Anthrax Investigation Board, the latter spent many years of dangerous work growing  and experimenting on the bacillus. He found a method of killing it by disinfecting fleeces, removing the danger without spoiling the fleece or harming the workers.

The Papers are copies of two scrapbooks of press cuttings about the disease in Bradford. The cuttings were collected by the two doctors and used in their lifesaving work. Dr Eurich's daughter, Margaret Bligh, later donated the collection to the University.

More about anthrax, with a contemporary cartoon: Death and the Woolsorter: Bradford doctors against anthrax. No. 21 of our 100 Objects online exhibition.

Papers on Anthrax collection description