[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Other Articles
September 23, 1961


JAMA. 1961;177(12):860-861. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040380038010

Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the father of Protozoology and Bacteriology, was not a teacher associated with a medical school or university. His scientific contributions were made at his leisure while he was serving as a janitor or beadle, "Bedellus," the Chamberlain to the sheriffs of Delft. He held this post for almost 4 decades and continued to draw a small salary until his death at the age of 91. Exposure to formal education was minimal; at the age of 16 he was apprenticed as a cashier and bookkeeper in a linendraper shop in Amsterdam.1 He returned to Delft at the age of 22 where he lived for the remainder of his life, except for one brief visit across the channel to inspect the chalk cliffs of southern England.

The name of Leeuwenhoek has been associated with animalcules and protozoa, isolated from a number of sources and viewed through a simple