Betty M. Haines was a celebrated scientist in the field of leather conservation. Between the years of 1940 and 1970, she created an archive of over 400 leather samples which have recently been digitised by the Leather Conservation Centre.
Born in London in 1925, Haines was recognised as being scientifically gifted at a young age when studying at Southall County Girls School. She continued to develop her aptitude for science at London University where she studied a BSc in Botany, Chemistry and Zoology.
After graduating in 1946, Haines began her career in the leather industry.
Her first role was as a Research Assistant in the Biology Department of the British Leather Manufacturers’ Research Association. Several years later, in 1969, she was appointed Head of the Biology Department.
Haines’ research covers several aspects of leather technology, and is a valuable resource. with conservators and leather scientists still referencing her published works today.
In addition to her career as a leather chemist, Haines’ had a particular interest in the conservation of historic leather which led her to work alongside A.D. Baines-Cope, Senior Principal Scientific Officer at the British Museum Research Laboratory.
In 1978, Haines’ enthusiasm for conservation encouraged her to join the board of trustees at the Leather Conservation Centre, which had just been formed. She became a trustee and continued to be an active member of the board throughout the years, taking on a variety of roles until eventually becoming President in 1999. Other associations she was affiliated to include the Royal Microscopical Society, the Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists and the London Museum. In 1983, Haines received an MBE for service to the leather industry. After her retirement in 1985 she continued to consult across various institutions until 1988.
We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to digitise the slides archive, and to celebrate the legacy left behind from one of the leading female scientists in the leather industry.