Blake Papers

Papers of Robert F. Blake (1867-1944), scientific researcher (chemistry) and analyst. Born in York in 1867, Blake first came to Northern Ireland in 1887 to work as a chemistry demonstrator at Queen's College Belfast. He went on to become a teacher of chemistry at Belfast Royal Academy and Methodist College, a researcher in analytic and organic chemistry and latterly Public Analyst for Northern Ireland and medicine analyst for 15 Poor Law Unions. His papers reflect these various concerns and interests and include record books with details of analyses made on samples of drugs, food, milk and alcohol etc. sent in from dispensaries and the constabulary in Counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry and Tyrone, 1889-1944.

There is also correspondence, newspaper cuttings etc. relating to the working conditions, salaries and appointments of analysts in Ireland, c.1887-1930. Other items comprise: printed pamphlets relating to analytical chemistry c.1900; press cuttings and pamphlets concerning the typhoid fever epidemic in Belfast and the impurity of Belfast's water supply 1898; evidence of Professor E.A. Letts in the enquiry into the most suitable method of sewage treatment for Belfast c.1905. Of interest are 5 documents, June 1913- June 1914, pertaining to a special meeting held by the Council of the Institute of Chemistry to consider whether a Fellow of the Institute 'should be excluded or suspended from membership' following his conviction on charges arising from his support of the women's suffrage campaign.

The collection also contains c.1,500 personal papers and letters dating from 1810-1946. These include a marriage settlement of 1834 and 215 letters, 1887-1894, from Blake to his mother which express interesting views on the social conditions prevailing in Belfast at this time.


A useful source for those interested in the history of science - and particularly analytical chemistry - in the north of Ireland

Physical characteristics

c. 3,400 items, 1810-1946, comprising a range of documents, volumes, newspaper cuttings, photographs and printed material occupying 9 PRONI boxes.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/2682 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.


Accrual Policy
Accrual Periodicity
Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 25 August 2018