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American Chemical Society

Division of the History of Chemistry

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Preceptors of Chemistry Symposium
San Diego 2016

The history of chemistry is filled with fascinating characters. Some of them made major discoveries that influenced chemical thought for many years. But some of them organized the current state of chemistry in a form that could be communicated to people interested in becoming chemists. These were the Preceptors of Chemistry. One of the first such people was Andreas Libavius, who wrote one of the first extensive chemical texts that was used in University courses in Chemistry throughout the 17th century. Rather than concealing the world of chemistry, it endeavored to illuminate the facts of known materials and their reactions. The dominant Preceptor for the 18th century was Herman Boerhaave. His Elementa Chemiae revolutionized the teaching of chemistry throughout Europe. Since his lectures were delivered in Latin, students came from all over the civilized world to study with the Leiden physician. He changed the way medicine was taught and also advanced the teaching of chemistry. His book was soon translated into English and used everywhere. The 18th Century was the great age of chemistry in France and several preceptors will be presented. The 19th century features the teaching in Germany. The 19th century also exhibited the rise of chemistry teaching for ordinary people, not associated with Universities. Conversations in Chemistry was widely plagiarized but is known to be by Mrs. Marcet. Chemistry teaching in Russia is exemplified by the work of Mendeleev. The 20th century teaching of general chemistry was dominated by the work of Linus Pauling. More specific instruction in Inorganic Chemistry is exemplified by Fred Basolo. In addition to the talks given in San Diego, a book will be published with many more preceptors of chemistry.

Author Topic
Bruce Moran Libavius
John Powers Boerhaave
Robert Anderson Black Book Chapter
No talk
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent French
Alan Rocke Kekule/Kolbe
Michal Meyer Mrs. Marcet/Mary Somerville
Vera Mainz Mendeleev
Jay Labinger Basolo
Gary Patterson Pauling
Robert Fox

Gary D. Patterson, Email: gp9a@andrew.cmu.edu