Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

An Obituary

Dr. C. E. K. MEES. F.R.S. Hon F.R.P.S. 1882 - 1960

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Dr C. E. K. Mees., D.Sc., F.R.S., Hon: F.R.P.S. in Honolulu on Monday the 15th of August [1960] at the age of 78.

Charles Edward Kenneth Mees, the son of Ellen Joyce and Charles Edward Mees a Wesley an Minister, was born at Wellingborough Northants, on the 26th of May 1882. After leaving Kingswood School, Bath, he went to Harrogate College and then proceeded to St Dunstan's College, Catford, where he met the late Dr S. E. Shepherd. The lifelong friendship which resulted only ended by Dr Shepherd's death in 1944, and it was for their joint collaboration on the theory of the photographic process at University College, London, under Sir William Ramsey that they received their B.Sc by research in 1903 and their D.Sc. three years later.

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From 1906 to 1912, Dr Mees was a partner as well as Managing Director of Wratten & Wainwright, of Croydon, and it was during this period that he Joined the Croydon Camera Club of which he was a Life Member right up to his death. By 1907 he had successfully made and marketed panchromatic plates in addition to new light filters as well as new darkroom safelights. All this time he devoted himself to conducting the first measurements on the resolution of photographic emulsions, and in 1912 he only agreed to join George Eastman in America on condition that Kodak also purchased the firm of Wratten & Wainwright at the same time.

The duties of Dr Mees in Kodak Park Works, Rochester, N.Y. were to organise the Research Laboratory. After becoming Director of Research and Development be became a Director of the company in 1923, and in 1934 be became Vice-President.

Amongst his many publications were "The Organisation of Industrial Scientific Research" first published in 1920, and later re-issued in a revised edition in collaboration with Dr John Leermakers in 1950; "The Path of Science" (1946), and the monumental "Theory of the Photographic Process" in 1942, revised and re-issued in 1954.

In 1908 Dr Mees received the Silver Medal of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 1934 he again received the same award. In 1910 Dr Mees was elected Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society, and in 1926 he was created an Honorary Fellow. In 1913 he was awarded the Society's Progress Medal for his researches, discoveries, and publications in the physics and chemistry of photograph. In 1952 he received the Progress Medal for the second time under the same terms, and thus he become the first individual in the history of "The Royal" to gain their highest distinction twice.

In 1921 he became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in the same year lie received the John Scott Medal & Award of the City of Philadelphia. In 1923 came the Jansson Medal of the Societe Francaise de Photographie, while in 1924 he delivered the Hurter & Driffield Memorial Lecture on "The Photographic Reproduction of Tone" for which lie received the R.P.S. Hurter & Driffield Medal. In 1934 he was made a Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, and in 1935 he delivered the traditional Christmas Lectures in The Royal Institution in London. In 1936 he received the S.M.P.S. Progress Medal, and in the same year he was awarded the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1937 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society on whose Council he served from 1942-1945 in 1938 he became the R.P.S. Overseas Corresponding Member of Council, and in 1939 came his greatest honour of election as Fellow of The Royal Society of London. Other distinctions included the Rumford Medals of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1943; the Aderskold Medal of the Swedish Photographic Society as well as the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of America, both in 1948, and the Franklin Medal in 1954.

In 1950 Dr Mees assumed American citizenship and was elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1909 Dr Mees married Alice Crisp by whom he had one son and one daughter. Mrs Mees died in 1954, and it was on his retirement from Kodak that Dr Mees settled in Honolulu where he died. His researches into various photographic processes besides his work into the improvements of home movies, panchromatic emulsions, and colour materials contributed more towards the present achievements of photography than those of any other individual since Fox Talbot, and the name of Dr Mees will indeed live long in the annals of photographic science.


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