The microscope is one of those inventions that has numerous inventors going back as far as the 16th century, but its use in medicine begins in Louisiana at Tulane University.  A Professor of Chemistry, John Leonard Riddell, invented the first practical binocular microscope in the 1850s while he was investigating cholera, a devastating disease rampant in the 19th Century.

One limiting factor was illumination.  At first sunlight concentrated with a mirror was used to light the specimen.  Then with the advent of electricity, more and more powerful electric lights were used.

The microscope dates from the mid-20th century and was made by a leading manufacturer of medical optics, AO Spencer and was part of the original equipment in Willis-Knighton's first laboratory.


Location in Museum

In the Lab exhibit


Mid-20th Century
  • Microscope, laboratory,