The Analytical Division’s contributions to accounts of the history of Analytical Chemistry in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe

Interest of Analytical Division members in the historical background of their subject was fostered by Professors Ronald Belcher and Hans Malissa from the early 1970’s. Since then the Analytical Division has supported the production of numerous articles that could be used in the preparation of a comprehensive account of the historical development of analytical chemistry in Europe.  These items have been published in the UK in the Proceeding of the Analytical Division of the Chemical Society (Proceedings) and since its demise in the Journal of the Association of Public Analysts, (JAPA) and in the RSC Historical Group Newsletter and in a variety of outlets for material by members of the Study Group History of DAC – EuCheMS.

Proceedings, in its various formats, regularly published articles on the history of chemistry with particular emphasis on people and activities in the British Isles and Ireland covering a wide range of topics. These included atomic spectroscopy, early mineral water analysis, use of the touch stone, Robert Boyle, specific Irish and Scottish contributions, materials celebrating the centenary of the Kjeldahl method, the Lunar Society and Midlands Chemists, and on London Chemists prior to the foundation of the Chemical Society in 1841. The references for, and text of, these and other papers are readily available via the RSC journal archive site. The initial study on “Robert Boyle: A Foundation Stone of Analytical Chemistry in the British Isles”, lead to the naming of the AD companion medal to the “SAC Gold Medal” for overseas candidates in 1982, as “The Robert Boyle Gold Medal”.

Relevant material of analytical chemical interest in the Hist. Gp. Newslett. (texts available free on-line via RSC web-site) includes articles such as those on  The London of Robert Boyle, portraits of Boyle at the RSC, Arthur  Israel Vogel (1905-1966), Thomas Andrews (1813-1885) and Edmund Albert Letts (1852-1918).

Papers in JAPA (available free on-line via the Association web-site) provide detailed accounts of the lives, times and innovations of a number of notable early Public Analysts namely, Alexander Wynter Blyth (1844-1921)[1], Charles Alexander Cameron (1830-1921)[2], Robert Rattray Tatlock (1837-1934)[3] and Alfred Henry Allen (1846-1904)[4]. Others papers, such as that on the horsemeat in beef species substitution event in 2013 [5] contain the detailed prior history of similar prior events.

The EuCheMS DAC History Study Group arose as a result of the earlier activities in the field by Professors Ronald Belcher and Hans Malissa within the Working Party on Analytical Chemistry; these became formalised by the establishment of the group in 1994, with Hans Malissa as chair and J. A. Perez- Bustamente as co-chair. Their first task was to prepare an account of the first 25 years of the Working Party on Analytical Chemistry, which was published in 1999 [6]. The stated objectives of the “Study Group – History” of the Division of Analytical Chemistry of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) are to study and publish accounts of the history of analytical chemistry in Europe with reference to individual countries, specific locations, techniques, application, professional bodies and personalities. The primary way for this to be achieved has been the promotion and support of a lecture on material relevant to the host country at each EUROANALYSIS Conference and their subsequent publication. With the exceptions of EUROANALYSIS 1, XII and XV held respectively in Heidelberg, Dortmund and Innsbruck, this aim has been achieved at the time or independently reasonably soon after as, for  EUROANALYSIS VII, IX and XI. Because detailed accounts for Austria were provided after EUROANALYSIS VII (Vienna) and at the 80th Birthday Conference for Hans Malissa in Vienna, 2000, no further account was deemed necessary to be given in Innsbruck. No historical review lecture was given at either of the two EUROANALYSIS conferences held in Germany in 1972 and 2002, due to it being regarded as a nearly impossible task to achieve within the time frame available within an opening ceremony. This omission has recently been dealt with, after gaps of 42 and 12 years respectively, by concerted efforts by members of the Study Group, with the publication of the well-illustrated monograph, Important Figures of Analytical Chemistry from Germany in Brief Biographies [7].

In many cases extension studies have followed on earlier plenary or keynote lectures, with more detailed treatments of particular items, or with items omitted earlier. The greatest number of these concern topics in the history of chemistry in Belgium, Ireland, Italy and the UK. References to publications of the plenary, keynote lectures and the additional studies are listed on the DAC web-site along with those arising from other conferences organised by DAC  or its predecessor and those held in cooperation with the series, International Conference on History of Chemistry. The output, over 20 years, comprises of some 54 papers, 2 monographs, and 1 volume of conference proceedings [8].

D. Thorburn Burns,
Institute for Global Food Security,
The Queen’s University of Belfast,
Belfast, BT9 5 HN, Northern Ireland, UK

1. D. Thorburn Burns, “Alexander Wynter Blyth (1844-1921), A Pioneering and Innovative Public Analyst”, JAPA, 35, 17-29, (2007).
2. D. Thorburn Burns, “Sir Charles Alexander Cameron (1830-1921) Dublin’s Medical Superintendent, Executive Officer of Health, Public Analyst and Inspector of Explosives”, JAPA, 37, 13-39, (2009).
3. D. Thorburn Burns, “Robert Rattray Tatlock (1837-1934), Public Analyst for Glasgow”, JAPA, 39, 38-43, (2011).
4. P. and M. Clare, “The Life and Times of Alfred Henry Allen, Sheffield’s First Public Analyst”, JAPA, 40, 39-59, (2012).
5. M. J. Walker, M. Burns and D. Thorburn Burns, “Horse Meat in Beef, species substitution, 2013”, JAPA, 41, 67-106, (2013).
6. D. T. Burns, A. Gogala, H. Malissa and L. Ninistö, “25 Years of the Working Party on Analytical Chemistry of the Federation of European Chemical Societies”, Slovenian Chemical Society, Ljubljana, (1999).
7. D. Thorburn Burns, R. K. Müller, R. Salzer and G. Werner, “Important Figures of Analytical Chemistry from Germany in Brief Biographies: From the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century”, Springer, Heidelberg, (2014).
8. EuCheMS DAC web-site.

AD Honorary Officers

Downloadable Files

AD Presidents
Past and Present Presidents List
Related file iconOCX (16k)  

AD Honorary Secretaries
Past and Present Secretaries List
Related file iconOCX (15k)  

AD Honorary Treasurers
Past and Present Treasurers List
Related file iconOCX (13k)  

PDF files require Link icon Adobe Acrobat Reader

Historical Group

The Historical Group exists to encourage an interest in the history of chemistry and chemical industry among members of the RSC and others

Related Links

External links will open in a new browser window