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FARADAY, Michael (1791-1867) David James Blaikley collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0108 SC MSS 002
Held at: Institution of Engineering and Technology
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Full title: FARADAY, Michael (1791-1867) David James Blaikley collection
Date(s): 1809-1961
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 8 boxes
Name of creator(s): Faraday | Michael | 1791-1867 | chemist and physicist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born Newington Butts, Surrey, 22 September 1791. Apprenticed to a London bookinder age 14 and educated himself by reading scientific books. In 1812 he attended lectures given by Humphrey Davy at the Royal Institution, London; after unsuccessfully asking Davy for a job at the Royal Institution, he was appointed laboratory assistant 1 March 1813. In 1814 left England to travel with Davy and his wife on an 18 month European tour to France, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium to meet scientists. Back in England Faraday became involved with numerous projects at the Royal Institution including the improvement of optical glass and advising on the cleaning of marbles in the British Museum, London; in 1826 he founded the Royal Institution's Friday Evening Discourses and Christmas Lectures; he gave many public lectures himself and wrote notes offering guidance to lecturers. Throughout his life Faraday kept detailed records of lectures attended, books and articles read and experiements conducted which he bound into notebooks; he also corresponded with like-minded friends which he saw as vital in continuing his education. This correspondence widened as Faraday's career developed, and eventually covered many of the eminent scientists of the day. Faraday was a devout Christian and a member of the small Sandemanian denomination, an offshoot of the Church of Scotland. He later served two terms as an elder in the group's church at Glovers Hall, Barbican, which later moved to Barnsbury, Islington. On 2 June 1821 Faraday married Sarah Barnard (1800-1879), they having met through attending the Sandemanian church; they had no children. His greatest work was with electricity; in 1821 Faraday built two devices to produce what he termed electromagnetic rotation after Hans Christian Oersted discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetism; he conducted a series of experiments in which he discovered electromagnetic induction using his "induction ring", being the first electric transformer, in 29 August 1831; the following month in a second series of experiments he discovered magneto-electric induction; On 24 November 1831 and 12 January 1832 these experiments were described in two papers presented to the Royal Society. These were the first and second parts of his "Experimental researches into electricity" in which he gave his ,"law which governs the evolution of electricity by magneto-electric induction". Subsequent experiments in 1832 proved that the electricity induced from a magnet, voltaic electricity produced by a battery, and static electricity were all the same; he also did significant work in electrochemistry, stating the First and Second Laws of Electrolysis laying the basis for electrochemistry. He was Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich 1830-1851; Scientific advisor to Trinity House 1836-1865. In the 1840s and 1850s he suffered from ill health that prevented further research and in 1865 he resigned from the Royal Institution; he died at his house at Hampton Court on 25 August 1867 .


Scope and content/abstract:

Manuscript volumes, correspondence and papers by Michael Faraday including material based on original Faraday documents 1809-1961, comprising six volumes in total covering subjects on botany; chemistry; colour; fire eating; galvanism; gas lighting; light; magnetism; meteorology; lightning; preserving drawings; removing glass stoppers; scientific apparatus; details of his visits with Davy to France and Italy 1813- 1814; visits to copper works and state mines in Wales 1819; visit to the Isle of Wight 1824; manuscript notes on lectures given by Faraday to the City Philosophical Society 1816-1819; general observations; experiments; notes including scientific subjects as well as anagrams; etymology; recipes for gin and ginger beer; humour; love; memory; oratory; philosophy; Rochefoucault; Shakespeare; 'Chemical Love Letter.' 1816-1846; chemical notes [1822]; notes on experiments on electric lamps powered by batteries 1854 and a letter to John Tyndall; c 750 manuscript correspondence between Faraday and scientists, politicians and the general public 1812-1867; letters and draft letters by Faraday written from the Royal Institution 1853-1863; committe minutes from a subcommitte set up to conduct experiments in optical glass 1828-1835; papers relating to the wear and production of coinage at the Royal Mint 1835; papers relating to table-turning 1853-1864; Faraday's French passport 1856; notes on Faraday including his illness and his refusal of the post of President at the Royal Institution 1864-1872.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English; French; German; Italian

System of arrangement:

The collection is divided into three series; Series 1: manuscript volumes 1809-1846; Series 2: correspondence 1812-1867 arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent; Series 3: Miscellanous papers 1812-1872.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Refer to IET Archivist.

Finding aids:

Online item level catalogue.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by David James Blaikley in 1915/16.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Similar Faraday collections in the Royal Institution Archives, London, UK; Royal Military Academy Library; Cambridge University: Trinity College Library; Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives; Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts; Imperial College Archives and Corporate Records Unit; Royal Society; Glamorgan Record Office; St Andrews University Library; Bristol University Information Services: Special Collections; Science Museum Library and Archives; Queens University, Belfast; Wellcome Library.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
NCA rules for construction of personal, place and corporate names (1997), ISAD (G), second edition.

Date(s) of descriptions:
19 September 2008

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