Charles Darwin’s class card for “Chemistry and Pharmacy”, 1825–6.

Charles Darwin’s seal of approval.

Class cards were purchased by students at the start of the course and shown to the porter to gain admittance to lectures. Charles Darwin is famous for his theories of natural selection and evolution, and entered the University to study Medicine in 1825. In his autobiography Darwin wrote,

“The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by Lectures, and these were intolerably dull, with the exception of those on chemistry by Hope.”

 Darwin’s name is written in Hope’s handwriting.

Special Collections Da. class cards

Plans of Joseph Black Building: “Route followed by Prince of Wales at Opening Ceremony”, 1924.

A unique building—to build a strong chemistry community.

From 1884 the School of Chemistry saw rapid expansion, moving from Old College to the new Medical School at Teviot Row. After the First World War, Sir James Walker (Chair of Chemistry 1908–28) devised plans for a new building. The foundation stone was laid by King George V on 6th July 1920, and the building was opened by the Prince of Wales on 3rd December 1924. Walker showed great foresight and innovation by designing a building with numerous research laboratories mixed with teaching rooms.

The School of Chemistry

Photograph and Class Medal, Christina C. Miller, 1920s.

The first female chemist elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Christina C. Miller (1899–2001) obtained her B.Sc. (1921) from Heriot–Watt College, and a Ph.D. (1924) and D.Sc. (1929) from Edinburgh University. The class medal on display was awarded for Advanced Chemistry (1920). She was the first to produce a pure sample of phosphorus trioxide (1928) and proved that it did not glow, thereby solving a long-standing mystery. She was awarded the Keith Prize of the Royal Society (1930) and was one of the first five women to be elected as a Fellow (1949).

The School of Chemistry


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