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American Chemical Society

Division of the History of Chemistry

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Welcome to the ACS Division of the History of Chemistry Homepage

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The Newsletter, Program, and Abstracts for the 253rd National ACS Meeting in San Francisco, CA, April 2-6, 2017, are now available.

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Call for Nominations HIST Citations for Chemical Breakthrough Awards
The Division of History of Chemistry (HIST) calls for nominations for its Citations for Chemical Breakthrough Award program. Presented annually to multiple awardees beginning in 2006, these awards recognize seminal chemistry publications, books and patents. The term "breakthrough" refers to advances in the fields of science embraced by the American Chemical Society that have been revolutionary in concept, broad in scope, and long-term in impact. Each award will be made to the department or institution where the breakthrough occurred, not to the individual scientist(s) or inventors.

The Nomination Information and Required Nomination Form is now available. Nominations are due May 26, 2017. More information on this award program can be found on this website.

Please save the dates: March 31-April 4, 2019; Orlando FL
Call for Papers. The Division of the History of Chemistry (HIST) is planning a symposium on archaeological chemistry to be held at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando, FL, March 31-April 4, 2019. The tentative title of the symposium is "Archaeological Chemistry: Art and Archaeology in the Ancient and Medieval World." Papers on any subject that address this general topic, especially those that integrate chemistry with archaeology, those directed at answering social, political, and economic questions about ancient cultures, and those that incorporate the use of new technologies, are welcome. Please communicate your interest in participating in the symposium along with a tentative paper title and possible co-authors to either of the co-organizers: Seth Rasmussen ( or Mary Virginia Orna (

Call for Papers.
The HIST symposium on "The Posthumous Nobel Prize in Chemistry" last March at the San Diego ACS meeting received a surprising amount of coverage. Stu Borman wrote a two and half page piece for an April issue in C&EN, and readers of the magazine rated that article as the 10th most popular article in 2016 in C&EN. However, that symposium lacked any coverage of women chemists also deserving of Nobel Prizes. Our HIST symposium for Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at the ACS National Meeting in Washington, D.C. will attempt to restore balance. The symposium, titled above, is being co-sponsored by the ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC). Furthermore, Vera Mainz applied successfully for a DAC grant to sponsor a performance of the theatre piece "No Belles" following the symposium. This play, presented by the Portal Theatre Group from the Pacific Northwest, tells the tale of eight female scientists: six are Nobel Prize winners; two (Rosalind Franklin and Lise Meitner) are not. The keynote speaker for the symposium is Magdolna Hargittai, who is author of THE book on women scientists, Women Scientists: Reflections, Challenges, and Breaking Boundaries, published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

We hope that WCC will provide several speakers for the symposium, but we also welcome contributions from our faithful HIST members. There are some obvious individuals who should be featured, for example, Rosalind Franklin, Lise Meitner, and Ida Noddack, but we also hope to hear presentations about women chemists who are unknown to most of us, but who shouldn't be. To avoid too many people speaking about the same person, we ask that you submit the topic of your proposed talk to either Vera Mainz ( or E. Thomas Strom ( or Abstracts are due by April 10. If you are interested in presenting but need a woman chemist to highlight, please let us know. We have compiled a list of women nominated for Nobel Prizes but who did not make the final cut.

The symposium "The Posthumous Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Correcting the Errors and Oversights of the Nobel Prize Committee" is currently being turned into an ACS Symposium Book edited by Tom Strom and Vera Mainz. This August symposium would make a fitting sequel, provided the numbers of significant but overlooked women chemists are sufficient. We think they are, and we look forward to all of you demonstrating that fact.

The ACS has put together a series of videos featuring members of technical divisions to aid in division member recruitment. Carmen Giunta agreed to speak for HIST. To view the video click HERE.

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The 2016 HIST Election is now over. Thank you to the 218 members who voted (an increase of 23% from the last election)! To view the results click HERE.

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IsisCB Cumulative logo

IsisCB Cumulative and IsisCB Explore

Accessible to anyone on the web, IsisCB Cumulative and IsisCB Explore are completely open access services smade possible by the History of Science Society with support from the University of Oklahoma.

IsisCB Cumulative is a digitized version of the Isis Cumulative Bibliography of the History of Science, 1913-1975. This is a companion to IsisCB Explore, which includes data from Isis Bibliographies from 1974 to the present.

These tools are based on the 100-year-old Isis Current Bibliography of the History of Scienceand will be expanded and updated annually. Additional Information.

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CASSI and Beyond

Have you ever struggled to figure out what the journal abbreviations "C.R." or "A." means? If so, help is now available. "Beyond CASSI" is a newly released document that contains short journal title abbreviations from early chemical literature and other historical reference sources that may not be listed in the print version of CAS Source Index (CASSI) or the free online CASSI Search Tool . Many thanks to Marion Peters, UCLA Librarian Emeritus, for compiling this list of old abbreviations and for working with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) to make this document available on the CASSI Search Tool website (please see "About" section).

Other enhancements recently implemented by CAS to the CASSI search tool include:

  • Increased maximum number of results displayed from 50 to 100
  • Increased frequency of data updates from annually to quarterly

Hopefully, these enhancements will enable you to more quickly identify and confirm journal titles and abbreviations. As always, CAS appreciates your feedback and welcomes any additional input you would like to share via the in-product 'Contact Us' button.

Grace Baysinger, Chair of the ACS Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service and Chair of the ACS CINF Division's Education Committee

Articles in the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry concerning Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Awards:

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Previous Announcements on this page.

The Bulletin for the History of Chemistry v41(1,2), 2016, is now available to members. Check out the Table of Contents.

NOTE: HIST is making individual articles from the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry OPEN ACCESS and searchable except for the last three years. These articles are available in the Open Access Directory.

Articles from the last three years are available via links from the Table of Contents for those issues FOR HIST MEMBERS AND SUBSCRIBERS ONLY. If you try to access an article, you will be prompted for a login and password. The login username is the email address you provided to the American Chemical Society and the password is your ACS member number.

If you have any problems, please email

If you are not a member and want to order an individual article, please check the membership/back-issue order form.

Mission Statement

The Division of the History of Chemistry (HIST) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) seeks to advance knowledge and appreciation of the history of the chemical sciences among chemists, students, historians of science, and the broader public by