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Guide to the Robert L. Blake Papers, 1940-1988 (MC.0048)

Abstract

Contains the professional papers of Robert (Bob) L. Blake, Coordinator of the Department of Medical Illustration in the Duke University School of Medicine. Types of materials include pen and ink drawings, pencil sketches, watercolors, illustrations of various sizes, plates, programs, clippings, pamphlets, brochures, cards, photographic materials, and commercially published works. 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 1940 to 1988.

Descriptive Summary

Call Number
MC.0048
Title
Robert L. Blake Papers
Date
1940-1988
Creator
Blake, Robert L.
Extent
5.3 Linear Feet (1 carton, 3 manuscript boxes, 3 flat boxes, 1 map folder)
Repository
Duke University Medical Center Archives

Collection Overview

Contains sketches, caricatures, clippings, certificates, photographs, slides, and reprints created and used by Blake. Also contains drawings of medical anatomy as well as Duke University Medical Center people and facilities. 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 1940 to 1988.

Arrangement Note

Organized into the following series: Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1956-1980; Building Illustrations, 1948-1970; Designs and Lettering, 1953-1970; Clippings and Commercially Published Works, 1959-1981; Photographs, 1944-1966; Oversized Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1948-1976; Oversized Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1948-1976; Oversized Illustrations of People and Hospital Scenes, 1950-1981; Other Oversized Illustrations and Comics, undated; Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, 1940-1952; Civilian Public Service Unit #61, Illustrations and Photographs, 1943-1944, 1988; Photographic Negatives of Photographs and Illustrations, undated; Accession A2007.008, undated; Accession A2015.017, undated; Accession A2018.018, 1946-1974, undated.

Material within this collection has been organized by accession reflecting the fact that the collection has been acquired in increments over time. Researchers should note that material within each accession overlaps with/or relates to material found in other accessions. In order to locate all relevant material within this collection, researchers will need to consult each accession described in the Series Scope and Contents section.

Researchers should also note that similar material can be arranged differently in each accession, depending on how the material was organized when it was received by the DUMCA.

Restrictions on Access & Use

Some collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval.

Access Restrictions

None.

Use 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.

Contents of the Collection

1. Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1956-1980

Series Scope and Contents: Contains drawings, pencil sketches, plates, and two posters of anatomical and medical illustrations created by Blake. Both posters were originally mounted on poster board and have been disassembled for preservation purposes. Captions of items have been transcribed onto item labels, when applicable. Materials date from 1956 to 1980.

Heart-Lung Circulation, undated
Box 1
7 of 200 drawings for McGraw Hill and Dr. Montgomery's "Head and Neck Anatomy" atlas, undated
Box 1
2 plates of 50 prepared for Dr. Wadsworth's Atlas of Ophthalmic Surgery, undated
Box 1
Brain section, pencil, undated
Box 1
Lower leg, pencil, 1965
Box 1
Eye, colored pencil, (1), 1956
Box 1
Eye, colored pencil, (2), 1956
Box 1
Eye, pencil, (1), undated
Box 1
Eye, pencil (2), undated
Box 1
Eye, pencil (3), undated
Box 1
Eye, pencil, 1969
Box FF1-2
Eye, pencil, 1972
Box FF1-2
Eye, pencil, 1979
Box FF1-2
Eyelid, pencil, no date, undated
Box FF1-2
Heart, pencil (1), undated
Box FF1-2
Heart, pencil (2), undated
Box FF1-2
Heart, pencil, 1974
Box FF1-2
Heart, Prolapse of non-coronary aortic cusp with aortic insufficiency, pencil, 1979
Box FF1-2
Heart, aneurysm, pencil, 1979
Box FF1-2
Heart, pencil, 1979
Box FF1-2
Breast, pencil (1), undated
Box FF1-2
Breast, pencil (2), undated
Box FF1-2
Breast (artery and vein detail), undated
Box FF1-2
Liver and kidneys (with George Lynch), undated
Box FF1-2
Sacrum and rectum, undated
Box FF1-2
Rectum and rectourethralis M., undated
Box FF1-2
Urinary tract, color glossy, undated
Box FF1-2
Urology (for Dr. Dees), pencil, 3 items, undated
Box FF1-2
Unidentified [suture, kidney?], pencil, no date, undated
Box FF1-2
Unidentified [heart?], undated
Box FF1-2
Unidentified, pencil, 1980
Box FF1-2
Untitled poster: photographs of sketches of eye, foot/ankle, esophagus, heart, upper leg dissection, 1965-1968
Box FF1-2
Poster: Growth of a Surgical Halftone, no date, undated
Box FF1-2

2. Building Illustrations, 1948-1970

Series Scope and Contents: Contains Blake's illustrations for various buildings on Duke University's west campus. Materials date from 1948 to 1970.

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

3. Designs and Lettering, 1953-1970

Series Scope and Contents: Contains designs and lettering for a news bulletin, certificate, plaque, and an exhibit created by Blake. Materials date from 1953 to 1970.

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

4. Clippings and Commercially Published Works, 1959-1981

Series Scope and Contents: Contains clippings, commercially published works, pamphlets, brochures, and cards related to the personal life and career of Blake. Materials date from 1959 to 1981.

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

5. Photographs, 1944-1966

Series Scope and Contents: Contains photographs of and pertaining to the personal life of Blake. Materials date from 1944 to 1966.

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

6. Oversized Anatomical and Medical Illustrations, 1948-1976

Series Scope and Contents: Contains oversized anatomical and medical illustrations done in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolors by Blake. Materials date from 1948 to 1976.

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

7. Oversized Illustrations of People and Hospital Scenes, 1950-1981

Series Scope and Contents: Contains oversized illustrations and pen and ink drawings of patients, medical staff, and medical equipment in a variety of hospital scenes and contexts, created by Blake. Materials date from 1950 to 1981.

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

8. Other Oversized Illustrations and Comics, 1955-1977

Series Scope and Contents: Contains oversized illustrations and comics done mostly in pencil and pen and ink by Blake. Subjects include anatomy, medical students, and the Duke Poison Control Center exhibit. Materials date from 1955 to 1977, or are undated.

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

9. Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, 1940-1952

Series Scope and Contents: Contains oversized illustrations of Duke Medical Center and related buildings created by Blake. Materials date from 1940 to 1952.

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

10. Civilian Public Service Unit #61, Illustrations and Photographs, 1943-1944, 1988

Series Scope and Contents: Contains illustrations by Blake, photographs, slides, and a reunion program for the Civilian Public Service Unit #61. Materials date from 1943 to 1944, and 1988.

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

11. Photographic Negatives of Photographs and Illustrations, 1943-1950

Series Scope and Contents: Contains pen and ink illustrations by Blake and photographs of anatomy, campus buildings, Civilian Public Service workers, and Blake. Materials date from 1943 to 1950, or are undated.

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

12. Accession A2007.008, undated

Series Scope and Contents: Contains oversized illustrations by Blake of people and buildings. Materials are undated.

Oversized Illustrations of People, undated
Box 5
Oversized Illustrations of Buildings, undated
Box 5

13. Accession A2015.017, undated

Series Scope and Contents: Contains scrapbooks, drawings by Blake, photographs, and Civilian Public Service materials. Materials are undated.

Scrapbooks, undated
Box 6
Miscellaneous Drawings, Photographs, CPC materials, undated
Box 7

14. Accession A2018.018, 1946-1974, undated

Series Scope and Contents: Includes Blake's medical illustrations, printed materials, and a photograph. Materials date from 1946 to 1974, or are undated.

"Eminent Men for Whom Duke Hospital Wards are Named" booklet, undated
Box 6
"Three Unpublished Drawings: The Anatomy of the Human Ear" book (by Max Brodel), copy 1, 1946
Box 6
"Three Unpublished Drawings: The Anatomy of the Human Ear" book (by Max Brodel), copy 2, 1946
Box 6
"Roche Medical Image" journal, June 1967
Box 5
"Drawn for Dr. Charles Hammond Chmn. Dept. of O.B.-Gyn," medical illustrations, undated
Box 5
"Miscellaneous - Pen & Ink at top Halftone at bottom," medical illustrations, undated
Box 5
"Original Carbon Dust Drawings for Dr. Will Sealy during his open heart surgery research in 1968," medical illustrations, circa 1968
Box 5
Urinary Track diagram, 1974
Box 5
Untitled leg medical illustration, undated
Box 5
Elon Clark, Bill Bell, and Bob Black black and white photograph, undated
Box 5

Biographical Note

Robert (Bob) L. Blake was born in New Jersey and raised in Pennsylvania. In high school, he was known 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. He 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 met 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. For example, Blake learned how to make a plaster case of a real nose on a real person instead of using a plastic model to preserve the texture of the pores and natural appearance of the skin.

In 1949, Blake became part of the Duke faculty, eventually becoming 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. He 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. Blake also prepared a Poison Control Center exhibit which was shown around the world during the 1960s. In it, 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, North Carolina, for more than 20 years.

Robert Blake retired on January 1, 1984 having illustrated approximately 500 scientific articles for medical journals and having created drawings for over 50 textbooks. In 1988, he stated that he continued to turn out about 75 watercolor paintings per year.

In 2003, the Department of Medical Art (formerly known as the Department of Medical Illustration) became 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. Blake died on December 30, 2014.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Robert L. Blake Papers, Duke University Medical Center Archives.

Acquisitions Information

Accession A2007.008 (gift, January 2007), Accession A2009.028 (June 2009), Accession A2011.066 (gift, April 2011), Accession A2013.114 (gift by Kennard Blake, May 2013), Accession A2015.017 (gift by Kennard Blake, May 2015), Accession A2018.018 (gift by Kennard Blake, May 2018)

Processing Information

Processed by Archives staff: circa 2003-2007; updated: 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018

Separated Material

Oversized posters in the series Anatomical and Medical Illustrations (Liver and kidneys (with George Lynch); Eye, pencil, 1969; Eye, pencil, 1972; Eye, pencil, 1979; Eyelid, pencil, no date, undated; and Unidentified, pencil, 1980) and Oversized Illustrations of Buildings (Duke Chapel, 1944) were moved to the collection Oversized materials (materials separated from collections).

Related Material

  • Sam A. Agnello Papers
  • Elon H. Clark Papers