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Henry Roscoe Papers

Date range: 1855-1915

Medium: Archive/Manuscript

Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe (1833-1915) studied chemistry at University College London, and at Heidelberg under Robert Bunsen. In 1857 he succeeded (Sir) Edward Frankland as Professor of chemistry at Owens College, Manchester, at a time when the College’s fortunes were at a low ebb. Under Roscoe’s direction, Manchester became the leading academic centre for chemistry in Britain, and in 1875 he oversaw the construction of the first practical chemistry laboratories in any British university, modelled on those of Bunsen and designed by Alfred Waterhouse.

His own research centred on inorganic chemistry, and particularly on the laws of photochemical actions and the metal vanadium. Roscoe played an active role in the scientific, cultural and political life of Manchester. He gave up his chair in 1885, when he was elected Liberal MP for South Manchester.

There are two Roscoe collections. One (English MSS 963–964) comprises two letter-books containing a collection of letters to Roscoe, and miscellaneous papers, printed cuttings and photographs relating to Roscoe, to his fields of activity and to other eminent scientists.

The other collection (Roscoe Additional) also includes two letter-books containing drafts of Roscoe's publications and copies of letters and reports concerning his work as an industrial consultant for local authorities. There is also a copy of his lectures delivered at Owens College in 1857/8, some offprints and a small number of letters, including one referring to the anti-German agitation against Roscoe's former colleague, the physicist, Arthur Schuster, during the First World War.

See also:

Further information:

  • Catalogue of English MSS available online via ELGAR (English MSS 963-964).
  • Catalogue of Roscoe additional collection available online via ELGAR.
  • H. R. Roscoe, The Life and Experiences of Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe, Written by Himself (1906).


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