Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Valentine George Anderson (1885–1969)

by Joan T. Radford

This article was published:

Valentine George Anderson (1885-1969), chemical analyst, was born on 11 June 1885 at Hotham, Victoria, son of Frederick Anderson, compositor, and his wife Louise Jane, née Heinrichsen. His father died when he was 2 and he was brought up by his mother, whom he supported from the time he could earn a living. He was educated at a state school in Ballarat and at the Ballarat School of Mines where in 1904 he took an assayer's certificate with credit in metallurgy and was appointed assistant demonstrator in chemistry for 1904-05. He then joined the chemistry department of the Working Men's College, Melbourne, as lecturer and demonstrator for two years; he also taught at Wesley College. In 1908-09 he took over D. Avery's advisory role to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, and was analyst for the inspector of explosives.

Anderson began practice on his own account in 1910 as associate to Avery, and was his partner from 1915 in the firm known as Avery & Anderson, analysts. In 1913-15 the University of Melbourne granted him government scholarships totalling £250 to undertake research from his own laboratories into nitrogen in rain-water. The work was partly sponsored by the British Association for the Advancement of Science; it was reported to and by them and published, with high praise, in the Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1915. From 1916 Anderson advised the Commonwealth on the availability of potassium from alunite, ash and kelp, on fuel economy, and on setting up the white earthenware pottery industry. In 1920-26 he established himself as a leading consultant in industrial chemistry, an able problem-solver, and an upright honourable man. In 1925-46 he lectured part time in applied chemistry at the University of Melbourne, transmitting his industrial experience to senior students in lectures which were informative but not inspiring.

Known as 'V.G.', Anderson was an associate member (from 1918) and fellow (from 1921) of the Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria and was president in 1922. He was also a member of the Society of Chemical Industry (Great Britain), the Royal Institute of Chemistry, London, the (Royal) Australian Chemical Institute (president, 1947-48), the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Victoria president, 1957-58). He contributed to many journals. He lacked the innovatory spirit of his partner, but was widely consulted on problems requiring persistence and chemical perspicacity. As an analyst, trained in accuracy and reproducibility as well as in research, he contributed immeasurably to the compilation and interpretation of the chemistry of Australia's water supplies. His two papers in the Australian Chemical Institute's Journal and Proceedings in 1945 on 'Some effects of atmospheric evaporation and transpiration on the composition of natural waters in Australia' are widely acknowledged by environmental chemists. In World War II he advised the Commonwealth government on water supplies.

There were two sons of Anderson's marriage in 1912 to Ethel Grace, née Butchers (d.1950). In 1962 he married a widow Matilda Hansford Butchers, née Goyen. He died at Canterbury on 22 August 1969 and was cremated with Presbyterian rites, leaving an estate valued for probate at $57,626.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Currie and J. Graham, The Origins of CSIRO (Melb, 1966)
  • Science and Industry, 1 (1919)
  • Royal Society of Victoria, Proceedings, 83 (1969)
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Proceedings, 37 (1970)
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Annual Report, 1912-15 (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • Advisory Council of Science and Industry, Minutes, 1916-19, and Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, Annual reports, 1921-22 (CSIRO Archives, Canberra).

Citation details

Joan T. Radford, 'Anderson, Valentine George (1885–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 June, 1885
North Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


22 August, 1969 (aged 84)
Canterbury, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.