Grace Frankland

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Grace Frankland
Mrs Percy Frankland born Grace Toynbee died 1946.png
Grace Coleridge Toynbee

(1858-12-04)4 December 1858
Died5 October 1946(1946-10-05) (aged 87)
Other namesMrs Percy Frankland
Known forBacteriology

Grace Coleridge Frankland known as Mrs Percy Frankland née Grace Toynbee (4 December 1858 – 5 October 1946)[1] was an English microbiologist. She was one of the nineteen female scientists who wrote the 1904 petition to the Chemical Society to request that they should create some female fellows of the society.


She was the youngest of nine children; her parents were Harriet and Joseph Toynbee, a noted otologist. She was home schooled and spent one year at Bedford College[2], She married Percy Frankland in 1882, and with him developed an interest in the emerging science of bacteriology. She worked with both Percy and his father Edward Frankland and was described at the time as having "worthily aided and seconded [Percy]".[3] She co-authored papers with her husband on bacteria and other microorganisms found in the air[4] and water.[5] Colleagues of her husband noted that although their situation as husband and wife working equally together was not unique, he was 'the first man who had the chivalry to admit it.'[6]

Frankland was especially interested in the relationship between bacteria and public health. In 1903 she wrote a popular science book entitled Bacteria in Daily Life. It was written in an open style to engage a wide audience[7] and included important bacterial information pertaining to food, drink, smoking, pollution, sewage, air and disease. The book was reviewed in Nature in 1903.

"an interesting, instructive, and accurate account of the modern developments of bacteriology. Such subjects as sewage disposal, the prevention of tuberculosis, micro-organisms in milk, air, and foods, which are of public importance, are fully dealt with. ......No one nowadays laying claim to a liberal education can dispense with a slight knowledge, at least, of microbes and their actions, and for such this work will prove an adequate text-book."[8]

Publications and Contributions[edit]

In 1887, she published a joint study with her husband (Percy Frankland) on the microorganisms in the air. In 1888, she published more studies on microorganisms in the water and soil; these were also joint studies with her husband.[9]

In 1889 and 1890, she published more joint papers on several biological and chemical topics: nitrification, fermentation processes, purifying substances with fermentation. She was also the co-author of two volumes: MicroOrganisms in Water: their Significance, Identification, and Removal (1894) and the biography Pasteur (1898).[9] As mentioned above, her most notable work was Bacteria in Daily Life; this book, unlike her previous publications, was completed independently. In later years, she contributed to original research; her contributions can be seen in research involving typhoid fever epidemics in America, the plague virus, and carbonated waters.[9]

Her application in 1904 to the Chemical Society was important.[1] She was one of the nineteen signatories of the 1904 petition to the Chemical Society. The petition was unsuccessful; however, these prominent female chemists set out the reasons why they should be afforded the status of Fellow.[10] Furthermore, the petition eventually led to the admission of women as Fellows of the Society[11] (one of the Societies that amalgamated to become the Royal Society of Chemistry).[10][12]

Academic Memberships[edit]

She was a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, admitted into the Linnean Society of London (one of the first twelve female scientists admitted), and an honorary member of Bedford College.[9][13]

Percy held positions as professor of Chemistry Birmingham, and Dundee universities. They lived in Dundee before retiring to Argyll[14]. As a result of their time in Dundee Grace is commemorated as part of Dundee Women's Trail.[15]

Grace Frankland's papers are part of the Frankland family papers, held by the University of Manchester Library.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Grace Frankland". ODNB.
  2. ^ F., Rayner-Canham, Marelene (2008). Chemistry was their life : pioneering British women chemists, 1880-1949. Rayner-Canham, Geoffrey. London: Imperial College Press. ISBN 978-1860949869. OCLC 665046168.
  3. ^ Quoted in Rayner-Canham; Marelene F. Rayner-Canham; Geoffrey Rayner-Canham (2008). Chemistry was their life: Pioneer British women chemists, 1880-1949. London: Imperial College Press. p. 424. ISBN 978-1-86094-986-9.
  4. ^ Frankland, Grace C.; Frankland, Percy F. (1887). "Studies on new Micro-organisms obtained from air". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B. 178: 257–287. doi:10.1098/rstb.1887.0011. JSTOR 91702.
  5. ^ Frankland, Percy; Frankland, Grace Coleridge Toynbee. "Micro-organisms in water: their significance, identification and removal, together with an account of the bacteriological methods employed in their investigation, specially designed for the use of those connected with the sanitary aspects of water-supply." Longmans, Green, 1894.
  6. ^ 1935-, Creese, Mary R. S. (1998). Ladies in the laboratory? : American and British women in science, 1800-1900 : a survey of their contributions to research. Creese, Thomas M. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810832879. OCLC 36386419.
  7. ^ "Reviews". British Medical Journal. 1 (2207): 918–919. April 18, 1903. doi:10.1136/bmj.1.2207.918. PMC 2513022.
  8. ^ Hewlett, R. T. (1903). "Bacteria in Daily Life : Abstract : Nature". Nature. 67 (1747): 583. doi:10.1038/067583b0.
  9. ^ a b c d "Celebrating the first female Fellows of the Linnean Society". Oxford Academic. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  10. ^ a b Rayner-Canham, Marelene; Rayner-Canham, Geoff. "Pounding on the Doors: The Fight For Acceptance of British Women Chemists". Bull. Hist. Chem. 28 (2): 110–119.
  11. ^ Mason, Joan (1991). "A forty years' war". Chemistry in Britain: 233–238.
  12. ^ Creese, Mary R. S. (5 January 2009). "British women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who contributed to research in the chemical sciences". The British Journal for the History of Science. 24 (3): 275–305. doi:10.1017/S0007087400027370. PMID 11622943.
  13. ^ Bacteria in daily life. London, New York and Bombay, Longmans, Green, and co. 1903.
  14. ^ Ewan, Elizabeth L.; Innes, Sue; Reynolds, Sian; Pipes, Rose (2006-03-08). The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748626601.
  15. ^ "Frankland, Grace née Toynbee – Chemist, Activist | Dundee Women's Trail". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  16. ^ "Frankland, Sir Edward, Papers (The University of Manchester Library)". Archived from the original on 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2017-06-12.

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