While the Library and the new Events Room displaying their new improved appearance and facilities are now open and available to users, the archives are continuing to return from their vacation in the ideal climate in the salt mines at the DeepStore facility in Cheshire.  The latest returnees are the papers of Patrick Blackett and Howard Florey, both past presidents of the Royal Society.

Patrick Blackett (1897-1974) was a physicist with a wide range of interests, from his work on particle disintegration, cosmic rays, astrophysics and magnetism, various defence projects and as a member of government committees before, during and after the Second World War, including his policy work with Hugh Gaitskill and Harold Wilson, and his involvement in the affairs of developing countries, particularly India where he formed a friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru. All of these are represented in the collection.

Portrait of Patrick Blackett, by William Charles Evans, 1970

Howard Florey (1898-1968) was the first Australian President of the Royal Society, and his papers cover every aspect of his career in science and public life. He is best known for his work on penicillin and antibiotics 1940-1962, though he also worked on mucus secretion, traumatic shock and electron microscopy. This is the largest of the Society’s collections.

Portrait of Howard Florey, by Henry Carr, 1965

Both collections have returned to re-arranged shelving and improved access. There are now fewer boxes stored on top of each other on each shelf (a maximum of three, mostly two) and items of similar size are stored together, with efforts being made to keep the heavier items on lower shelves.  Additional shelving to provide better storage for the very large items has just arrived, enabling these archives to at last be stored in a manner befitting their age and importance.

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