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Joseph Black Manuscripts

Date range: 1768-1796

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Joseph Black (1728-1799) is credited with several major contributions to chemical science, in particular the rediscovery of 'fixed air' (carbon dioxide), the discovery of the bicarbonates and the concepts of latent and specific heat. He thus laid the foundations of modern thermal science and influenced James Watt in the development of the steam engine.

Black held chairs in medicine and chemistry at Glasgow (1756-66) and Edinburgh (1766-97), and was the first physician to George III in Scotland.

The Library holds some 15 volumes containing notes of chemistry lectures delivered by Black at Edinburgh. These includes notes from 1768 and 1769 compiled by Robert Dobson, and notes for courses of lectures in 1774/5 and 1796 by unidentified authors. Two further volumes of Black's lectures are believed to have been compiled by William Henry (1774-1836), the Manchester physician and chemist, in 1795/6.

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Further Information:

  • Uncatalogued (Eng MSS 1515-1520).