Royal Society of Chemistry


Web pages prepared by Dr G P Moss, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, England. E-mail:

Chairman: Dr J A Hudson, Graythwaite, Loweswater, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0SU, England. E-mail:

Secretary: Dr J Nicholson, 52 Buckingham Road, Hampton Middx TW12 3JG, England. E-mail:

Treasurer: Dr P J T Morris, 5 Helford Way, Upminster, Essex RM14 1RJ

Membership: Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]

Newsletter Editor: Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL

The Historical Group exists to encourage an interest in the history of chemistry and chemical industry among members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and others. Membership is open to non-members of the RSC and embraces a wide range from those whose interest in the history of chemistry is a hobby to teachers of chemistry at all levels and professional historians.

The Group holds twice yearly meetings when academic papers are read and discussed. Summaries of papers read at these meetings are included in the Historical Group Newsletter along with reviews of recent books in the subject and news of other meetings and forthcoming events. The Newsletter is published twice yearly. Contributions of not more than 500 words on topics of current interest in the history of chemistry are invited for inclusion at the discretion of the Editor. The contents of the last issue, Winter 2017, are given below with a link to the PDF (1.5 MB).

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on "The Centenary of Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979)" will be held on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BA [Click here for a map of the location of Burlington House which is labelled "The Royal Acad of Arts" (As well as the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House also contains the Geological Society, Linnean Society, Royal Astronomical Society and Society of Antiquaries)].

The Centenary of Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979)


13.00Registration and tea or coffee
13.30Welcome (Dr John Hudson, Chairman, Historical Group)
   First Session - Chair: Henry Rzepa (Imperial College)
13.40Peter Morris (Science Museum)
   Was Robert Burns Woodward a Great Chemist?
14.10Pierre Laszlo (Cornell University)
   The Simmons-Woodward Interaction
14.40Mark Whiting (University of Bristol)
   Working with Woodward, 1951-2
15.00Stanley Roberts (Manchester University)
   The Aroma of Yardley Aftershave
15.20Tea interval
   Second Session - Chair: Peter Morris (Science Museum)
15.40Jeffrey Seeman (University of Richmond, Virginia)
   Wheeler Lecture: Woodward's Unpublished Letters
16.40Jeffrey Seeman (University of Richmond, Virginia)
   Woodward, Corey and the Rashomon Effect
17.00Short Playlet by Jeffrey Seeman and Anthony Barrett FRS FMedSci (Imperial College)
17.20Concluding remarks by Peter Morris Remembering Woodward
17.30Close of meeting


There is no charge for this meeting, but prior registration is essential. Please register by e-mail with Professor John Nicholson This is expected to be a popular meeting. If having registered, you are unable to attend, please notify Professor Nicholson.

How to join the Historical Group:

If you are a member of the RSC you should contact the Membership Department (01223 432141) quoting your name and membership number. When you have done this please inform the Group's Membership Secretary, Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]. Those who are not qualified to join the RSC but who are interested in the history of chemistry are welcome to join the Group at an annual subscription of £12 per annum. Please send your name, address, phone number, email address and a cheque for £12 made out to "The Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group" to Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England. All members of the Group can download the Newsletter as a PDF. Hard copies are available if ordered in advance.

Other Useful Web pages

The Group maintains contact with colleagues in the Division of the History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences.

The Library & Information Centre, Historical Chemistry Information Service.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation.

ACS Historical Division.

The Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry.

Details of Nobel Prize winners; portraits; and other details.

List of Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry.

Chemical Heritage Foundation.

History of Pharmacy Forum.

The History of Chemical Engineering.

The Classic Chemistry Page.

Alchemy Home Page.

Historic samples and specimens from the Chemistry Department, Imperial College, London.

History of chemistry in Heidelberg

Science & Civilisation in China Project (Needham Research Institute).

There is a History of Chemistry Mail List or email

To send messages email

Historical Group Newsletter and Summary of Papers
and Occasional Papers

Short articles on the history of chemistry for the Newsletter are welcome and should be sent to the editor, Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL Please consult the Instructions for Authors.

Occasional Paper No 9.

Robert Burns Woodward in his Own Words, Dr Peter J.T. Morris

For a PDF copy of the Occasional Paper (426 kB) click here

No 71. Winter 2017 Newsletter

For a PDF copy of the Newsletter (1.5 MB) click here


From the Editor

Message from the Chair

  The Centenary of Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979)
  Additional Historical Group Meeting for 2017


  RSC Historical Group Occasional Papers No. 8

  Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
  Science and Technology Archives Group
  New President for the Chemical Heritage Foundation
  Johnson Matthey Bicentenary
  Johnson, Matthey and the Chemical Society

  From Cocaine to Novocaine – Chemistry and the Alleviation of Pain using Local Anaesthesia – Alan Dronsfield
  Ramsay's and some other Sealed Packets – Michael Jewess
  Two Hundred Years of Turmeric – Chris Cooksey

  Brian Iddon, Science and Politics: An Unlikely Mixture (Alan Dronsfield)
  Mary Virginia Orna (ed.), Science History: A Traveler's Guide (Bill Griffith)
  Raymond G. Stokes and Ralf Banken, Building on Air: The International Gases Industry, 1886-2006 (Peter Reed)

  H.G.J. Moseley (1887-1915), A Lost Nobel Laureate? Russell Egdell
  Speech Delivered by Counsellor Mr Cem Işık

  Dalton Anniversary Celebrations, Manchester - John Hudson

  Centenary of the Opening of the Dyson Perrins Organic Chemistry Laboratory - Peter Morris
  A Blue Plaque for Dr Alphonse Normandy - Debbie Radcliffe

  Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group Meetings
  Chemistry and Anaesthesia: Some Historical Perspectives



Contents of previous Newsletters (1996-2016)

PDFs of previous Newsletters (2010-2017)

PDFs of Occasional Papers 6-9

Biographies of Chemists including Confusing Names 1-3 from Newsletters 1998-9

Last update 4 April, 2017

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