Irena Maria McCabe (1931-2015)

Head of Library, Archives and Information Services, 1973-1997

  • Irena Maria McCabe

    Irena Maria McCabe

    Credit: Royal Institution


Ri positions

  • Head of Library, Archives and Information Services, 1973-1997

She attended Wings School, Charlton Park, Wiltshire, before studying Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Microbiology at Chelsea Polytechnic, London (now part of King's College London), and the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Later she studied Industrial Librarianship and Information Science at University College London. In 1970 she did the MSc in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London, with her dissertation on Berthelot.

Before her appointment as Assistant Librarian at the RI in 1972 she worked at Thorn Electrical Industries, Raynes Park Grammar School for Boys, the Institute of Chest Diseases, the Institute of Dermatology, and the Science Museum Library. At the Royal Institution in addition for being responsible for the library and archives, she also mounted exhibitions in the library associated with Friday Evening Discourses.

Following her retirement she studied for a second MSc in the history of science at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College, before beginning work there on her PhD which she completed in 2012 with a thesis entitled ‘Second best as a researcher, second to none as a populariser? The atmospheric science of John Tyndall FRS (1820-1893)’. She was active in the Ad Hoc group devoted to the history of chemistry and published a number of papers on aspects of the history of the RI.