Charles Blasdale, 1837 - 1887

by Brian Stevenson
last updated March, 2023

Charles Blasdale was an American physician. He was an active amateur microscopist from around 1877 onward, during which time he lived in Jericho, Queens County, Long Island, New York. Many of his surviving microscope slides are of histological specimens, although he also mounted a wide variety of other specimen types (Figure 1). During 1881, Blasdale produced a series of slides of frog tissues, with attractive printed labels that suggest a commercial enterprise (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Microscope slides that were prepared by Charles Blasdale, ca. 1877 through 1887. The injected frog artery (yellow label, upper left) was probably prepared in 1881 (see Figure 2), and the typeset printing suggests that Blasdale may have produced this and other frog tissue mounts for sale. Note that the other slides have handwritten descriptions of the specimens.


Figure 2. Exchange offers from Charles Blasdale, published between 1877 and 1886. From “The American Journal of Microscopy and Popular Science”, “The American Monthly Microscopical Journal”, and “The Microscope”.


Figure 3. Undated photograph of Charles Blasdale. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from .


Charles Blasdale was the second of three children (all boys) of William and Elizabeth Blasdale. William and Elizabeth were English, but lived in Douai, France when their sons were born. Charles was born on July 6, 1837.

The Blasdale family emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on May 3, 1841. Charles was then 4 years old. The family settled in Chicopee, Massachusetts, with father William taking work as a “machinist”. There were, and still are, many of their relatives in that area, with the surname often spelled “Blaisdell”.

Mother Elizabeth died on May 20, 1847.

The Blasdales evidently had the financial wherewithal to send Charles to college. He trained as a physician at the Berkshire Medical Institution, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, graduating in 1860. He then set up a medical practice in Springfield, just south of Chicopee.

On November, 1863, Charles married Julia Smith, in Chicopee. He was then 26, and she was 16. She had grown up in Chicopee, and her father was also a “machinist” there, so the pair had probably known each other for many years. The couple had two children, a girl and a boy.

They moved to Jericho (Oyster Bay), Long Island, New York during late 1866. Charles Blasdale was active in his medical community, serving as President of the Queens County Medical Society in 1877 and 1879 (and possibly other years).

The earliest known evidence of Blasdale’s interest in microscopy is a series of exchange advertisements that he published in a popular scientific magazine during 1877 (Figure 2). He initially offered slides of horse sperm, followed by slides of various botanical items. Injected and sectioned kidneys from diseased humans and normal rats and sheep were offered in 1878, suggesting that he then had a particular interest in diseases of that organ.

Slides of injected tissues of frogs were advertised in 1881. Specimens described in Blasdale’s advertisement correspond with known slides that have artistic, typeset labels (Figures 1 and 2).

Also in 1881, Blasdale donated “Lignite from a well near Jericho, L.I., found 96 feet below the surface, with specimens mounted for the microscope”, to the Long Island Historical Society.

He was elected to membership in the American Microscopical Society at their annual meeting in August, 1885.

Blasdale made a presentation to the Queen's County Medical Society in 1881, on the use of extracts from the plant Lippia mexicana for treatment of coughs.

Dr. J.E. Baker, of Brooklyn, wrote on “Malarial fever on Long Island” in The New York Medical Journal, 1885, which included the following, "Dr. Charles Blasdale, of Jericho, after mentioning the presence of pools and ponds in his vicinity, and in the vicinity of Woodbury and Syosset, continues: ‘Now, right in the neighborhood of these pools for the past eighteen years I have been called to treat fever and ague in its various forms and phases. Adjoining my own house there is just such a pond, belonging to the public, and, as a consequence, my family is seldom free from malaria. Quinine, iodine, arsenic, Warburg, Warburg modified, iodide of potassium, etc., fail to give us protection". The prevalence of malaria in that area during the 1880s is particularly striking, as it is almost unknown nowadays.

Charles Blasdale died on August 21, 1887. He was buried in Chicopee.

After his death, Julia, daughter Laura, and son Walter moved west. Walter Blasdale eventually became a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and a notable expert in botany.



American Journal of Microscopy and Popular Science (1877) Exchange offers from Charles Blasdale, Vol. 2, pages 64, 76, 92, 108, 124, 143, 159, and 172

American Journal of Microscopy and Popular Science (1878) Exchange offer from Charles Blasdale, Vol. 2, page 232

American Monthly Microscopical Journal (1881) Exchange offer from Charles Blasdale, Vol. 2, pages 20 and 80

Baker, J.E. (1885) Malarial fever on Long Island, New York Medical Journal, Vol. 41, pages 267-273

Blasdale Charles (1881) Lippia Mexicana, The Therapeutic Gazette, Vol. 2, pages 253-254

Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the Berkshire Medical Institution (1860) Class of 1860: “Charles Blasdale, Chicopee, Preceptor: W.G. Smith, M.D.”, page 9

Giauque, W.F., J.H. Hildebrand, and V.F. Lenzen (accessed March, 2023) Walter Charles Blasdale,

Immigration arrival record of Charles Blasdale (1841) accessed through

Marriage record of Charles Blasdale and Julia P. Smith (1863) accessed through

The Medical Record (1879) Annual Meeting of the Queens County Medical Society, Vol. 15, page 572

The Microscope (1886) “Injected Lung – This preparation from the Guinea pig was prepared by C. Blasdale, Jericho, N.Y., and is positive proof that certainly succeeded in getting a fine injection”, Vol. 6, page 134

The Microscope (1886) Exchange offers from Charles Blasdale, Vol. 6, page 264

The New England Business Directory (1865) Physicians “Blasdale Charles, Springfield”, page 445

The New York State Business Directory and Gazetteer (1867) Physicians “Blasdale Charles, Jericho, Oyster Bay”, page 714

Report of the Long Island Historical Society (1881) Donors to the Museum, “Charles Blasdale, M.D. Lignite from a well near Jericho, L.I., found 96 feet below the surface, with specimens mounted for the microscope”, page 37

Transactions of the American Microscopical Society (1885) New members, page 233

Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of New York (1877) Queens County Medical Society, page 447

US census and other records, accessed through

Waitsburg Times (1911) Obituary of Laura M. Morse (nee Blasdale), June 9