Collection Finding Aid

Robert L. Blake Papers

Collection Number: MC.0048

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Duke Medical Center Archives in Durham, N.C. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


Collection Overview expand/collapseExpand/collapse

Estimated Extent: 9.00 linear feet
Abstract: Contains the professional papers of Robert L. Blake, Coordinator of the Department of Medical Illustration in the Duke University School of Medicine. Types of materials include sketches, caricatures, and drawings of medical anatomy, Duke University Medical Center people and facilities, clippings, certificates, photographs, slides, and reprints. Major subjects include Duke University School of Medicine, Civilian Public Service Unit No. 61, conscientious objectors during World War II, and medical illustration. Materials range in date from 1943 to 1988.
Creator: Blake, Robert L.
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Information for Users expand/collapseExpand/collapse

Access Restrictions
No restrictions.
Usage Restrictions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], Robert L. Blake Papers, Duke University Medical Center Archives.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Collections may contain Medical Center Administrative records. These include records of the officers of the University, as defined in the Bylaws, the deans of schools and colleges, and departments, institutes, and other offices as designated by the President. For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the director of the office of record and the Medical Center Archivist is required for use. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the Medical Center Archivist.
Collection may contain Records of the Board of Trustees of the Duke University Medical Center. These include minutes and supporting documentation of the Board, its Executive Committee, and standing and ad hoc committees, and reports, studies, and the like presented solely to the Board. Records which have been existence for at least fifty years are available for scholarly research with the permission of the Medical Center Archivist. Access to records which have been in existence for less than fifty years shall be granted only by special permission, in writing, of the Medical Center Board of Trustees.
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Subject Headings expand/collapseExpand/collapse

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings and Medical Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collectionsuch as folders or items.

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    Related Collections expand/collapseExpand/collapse

      Sam A. Agnello Papers.: Duke University Medical Center Archives.
      Elon H. Clark Papers.: Duke University Medical Center Archives.
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    Biographical Information expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Robert L. Blake was raised in Pennsylvania and was known in his high school as the quasi-official class artist. One of his early jobs, during the 1930s, was as a fashion photographer in the clothing firm of Kraft and Phillips of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Blake photographed, but also began drawing more seriously while working near the firm's fashion artists. In 1942, Blake arrived at Duke University as part of an alternative service program for conscientious objectors, Civilian Public Service Unit #61. At Duke University, Blake was one of many attendants in the hospital operating rooms. It was in the rooms that Blake noticed Elon Clark, then director of the Department of Medical Art and Illustration and coordinator of the Medical Art Facility. After three months in the operating room, Blake moved to Elon Clark's studio to continue drawing, this time paying more attention to anatomy than style. Together with Elon Clark, Blake helped to create a laboratory for the pioneering work of making facial prostheses. The prostheses were used for accident victims, cancer patients, or people with congenital defects. Blake was interested in creating items that were not perfect, but which perfectly complemented the body of the person receiving the prostheses. Instead of a plastic model, Blake learned make a plaster case of a real nose on a real person to preserve the texture of the pores and natural appearance of the skin. In 1949, Blake became part of the Duke faculty, and finally Coordinator of Medical Art (around 1971) and Acting Director of Audiovisual Education, following Elon Clark's retirement. In addition to creating simple teaching drawings and pigments for dying scars, Blake illustrated covers for University publications, created posters and signs for campus events, and lettered citations and certificates for various departments and schools. Blake was responsible for lettering the scrolls presented to the members of the Half-Century Club (Duke Alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago), a job that increased markedly each year. Bob Blake also prepared a Poison Control Center exhibit which was shown around the world during the 1960s. He used his three children as the models for pictures of children venturing into dangerous medicine cabinets or broom closets. In his personal time, Blake continued to paint using watercolors. He showed his own paintings in various areas of the Medical Center, mostly scenes from rural and coastal North Carolina. His work was exhibited annually at the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, N.C., for more than 20 years. Blake retired in 1983 having illustrated approximately 500 scientific articles for medical journals, drawings for over 50 textbooks. In 1988, he stated that he continued to turn out about 75 watercolor paintings per year. As of 2003, the Department of Medical Illustration is known as the Department of Medical Art, part of Educational Media Services, within the Duke University School of Medicine. Audiovisual Education, continued by Sam Agnello, also became part of Educational Media Services. Robert Blake was married to Hildur Blake, a nurse at Duke University. Together they had three children.

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    Scope and Content expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, ca. 1956-1979; Building Illustrations, ca. 1948-1970; Designs and Lettering, ca. 1953-1960; Clippings and Commercially Published Works, 1959-1981; Photographs, ca. 1944-1966, n.d.; Oversized Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, ca. 1948-1976; Oversized Illustrations of People and Hospital Scenes, ca. 1950-1981; Other Oversized Illustrations and Comics; Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, ca. 1948-1952; Civilian Public Service Unit #61, Illustrations and Photographs, 1943-1944, 1988; Photographic Negatives of Photographs and Illustrations.

    3 document cases; 1 oversize box; 1 flat file

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    Collection Contents

    Series Quick Links expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Series: Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1956-1980expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Scope and Contents note
    Posters contains in Box 1 have been disassembled for preservation purposes. Both posters were originally mounted on posterboard. Captions of items have been transcribed onto item labels, when applicable. Several items listed within this series have been moved to the flat map cabinet, drawer 2.
    Box 1
    Heart-Lung Circulation, undated
    7 of 200 drawings for McGraw Hill and Dr. Montgomery's "Head and Neck Anatomy" atlas, undated
    2 plates of 50 prepared for Dr. Wadsworth's Atlas of Ophthalmic Surgery, undated
    Brain section, pencil, undated
    Lower leg, pencil, 1965
    Eye, colored pencil, (1), 1956
    Eye, colored pencil, (2), 1956
    Eye, pencil, (1), undated
    Eye, pencil (2), undated
    Eye, pencil (3), undated
    MAP-CASE FF1-2
    Eye, pencil, 1969
    Eye, pencil, 1972
    Eye, pencil, 1979
    Eyelid, pencil, no date, undated
    Heart, pencil (1), undated
    Heart, pencil (2), undated
    Heart, pencil, 1974
    Heart, Prolapse of non-coronary aortic cusp with aortic insufficiency, pencil, 1979
    Heart, aneurysm, pencil, 1979
    Heart, pencil, 1979
    Breast, pencil (1), undated
    Breast, pencil (2), undated
    Breast (artery and vein detail), undated
    Liver and kidneys (with George Lynch), undated
    Sacrum and rectum, undated
    Rectum and rectourethralis M., undated
    Urinary tract, color glossy, undated
    Urology (for Dr. Dees), pencil, 3 items, undated
    Unidentified [suture, kidney?], pencil, no date, undated
    Unidentified [heart?], undated
    Unidentified, pencil, 1980
    Untitled poster: photographs of sketches of eye, foot/ankle, esophagus, heart, upper leg dissection, 1965-1968
    Poster: Growth of a Surgical Halftone, no date, undated

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    Series: Building Illustrations, 1948-1970expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 1
    Duke University, West Campus, 1962
    F.G. Hall laboratory, undated
    Perkins Library, 1948
    Clock tower, 1948
    Woman's College Auditorium, 1948
    Unidentified west campus building, 3 views, 1968-1970

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    Series: Designs and Lettering, 1953-1970expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 1
    News Bulletin lettering, 1953
    Davison Club, certificate, 1969-1970
    Davison Club, charter members plaque, 1970
    Poison Control Center, exhibit, 1960

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    Series: Clippings and Commercially Published Works, 1959-1981expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 1
    General clippings, 1959-1981
    Science, 1976
    Archives of Internal Medicine, 1972
    Dermatology Clinic, 1978
    Pamphlets, brochures, and cards, undated

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    Series: Photographs, 1944-1966expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 1
    Robert Blake, undated
    Personal, 1944, 1945, 1966

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    Series: Oversized Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1948-1976expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 2
    Aneurysm bypass, pencil and watercolor, 1976
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 1, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 2, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 3, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 4, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 5, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 6, undated
    Maxillary artery surgery, pen and ink/watercolor, folder 7, undated
    Larynx, pen and ink/pencil, 1948
    Toe and nail, 1972
    MAP-CASE FF1-2
    Liver and kidneys, by Blake and George Lynch, undated

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    Series: Oversized Illustrations of People and Hospital Scenes, 1950-1981expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 2
    Nurses, undated
    Maternity scene with mother and child, undated
    Maternity ward with infants, undated
    Parents and newborn leaving hospital, undated
    Woman's Auxiliary of Duke Hospital, undated
    Pediatric patient getting a shot, undated
    Nurse checking on a patient laying in bed, undated
    A Day at Duke Hospital, undated
    Surgery using ultraviolet light, undated
    Surgery preparation, undated
    X-ray equipment, microscope, and breathing machine in use, undated
    Chest x-ray area, undated
    Hospital functions composite, undated
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, undated
    Box 2
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1974-1975
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1975-1976
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1976-1977
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1977-1978
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1978-1979
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1979-1980
    Chief Residents, Ob-Gyn, pen and ink, 1980-1981

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    Series: Other Oversized Illustrations and Comics, undatedexpand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 2
    Comic, Bob Blake after Serre [anatomical man picking up skin suit no. 1374], pencil, undated
    Comic, Medical artist, Bell Building, and Hospital, 1977
    Medical students in lecture, pen and ink, 1960
    Book jacket label, From the Library of Hildur and Bob Blake, undated
    Duke Poison Control Center exhibit, layout for 5 panels, 1955

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    Series: Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, 1940-1952expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 2
    Duke Chapel, 1944
    Chapel, 1948-1949
    Entrance to the Duke University School of Medicine (Davison Building), undated
    Hospital entrance, 1940s
    Duke University Medical Center, 1952
    Unnamed hospital department, undated

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    Series: Civilian Public Service Unit #61, Illustrations and Photographs, 1943-1944, 1988expand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 3
    Service, 1943-1944
    Photographs, 1943-1944
    Reunion program, 1988
    Reunion photographs, 1988
    Slides of CPS workers in typical work scenes, with accompanying descriptions, 1944

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    Series: Photographic Negatives of Photographs and Illustrations, undatedexpand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Box 4
    Female pelvis, pen and ink, undated
    Male pelvis, pen and ink, undated
    Duke Hospital, 1950
    CPS workers, folder 1, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 2, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 3, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 4, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 5, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 6, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 7, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 8, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 9, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 10, 1943-1944
    CPS workers, folder 11, 1943-1944
    Two people and old car [west campus?], undated
    Robert L. Blake, frontal view, undated
    Robert L. Blake, profile (1), undated
    Robert L. Blake, profile (2), undated

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    Series: Accession A2007.008, undatedexpand/collapseExpand/collapse

    Oversized Illustrations of People, undated
    Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, undated

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