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, E-mail:

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, Summer 2015, are given below with a link to the PDF (784 KB).

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on "The atom and the molecule: A symposium celebrating Gilbert N. Lewis." will be held on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 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 atom and the molecule: A symposium celebrating Gilbert N. Lewis.


10.30Registration and coffee
10.55Welcome (Dr John Hudson, Chairman, Historical Group)
   First Session - Chair: Henry Rzepa
11.00Dr Patrick Coffey (Berkeley, USA)
   Does Personality Influence Scientific Credit? Simultaneous Priority Disputes: Lewis vs. Langmuir and Langmuir vs. Harkins
11.45Professor Robin Hendry (Durham, UK)
   Lewis on Structure and the Chemical Bond
12.15Lunch break
Lunch is not provided, but there is a café/restaurant at the RA, and there are plenty of sandwich bars, etc., nearby.
   Second Session - Chair: John Hudson
13.45Professor Alan Dronsfield (UK)
   An organic chemist reflects on the Lewis two-electron bond
14.15Dr Julia Contreras-García (UPMC, France)
   Do bonds need a name?
15.15Tea interval
   Third Session - Chair: John Hudson
15.45Professor Clark Landis (UWM, USA)
   Lewis and Lewis-like Structures in the Quantum Era
16.15Professor Michael Mingos (Oxford, UK)
   The Inorganic dimension to Lewis and Kossel's landmark contributions
17.15Concluding remarks: Henry Rzepa
17.20Close of meeting


There is no charge for this meeting, but prior registration is essential. Please e-mail 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

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 7. Nitrogen, Novel High-Pressure Chemistry, and the German War Effort (1900-1918) by Anthony S. Travis, April 2015

For a PDF copy of the Occasional Paper (532 KB) click here

No 68. Summer 2015 Newsletter

For a PDF copy of the Newsletter (815 KB) click here


From the Editor

Message from the Chair

“The atom and the molecule”: celebrating Gilbert N. Lewis


CAN YOU HELP? - Update from the summer 2015 newsletter

Feedback from the summer 2015 newsletter


  175 Years of Institutionalised Chemistry and Pharmacy – William H. Brock
  Romance, Murder and Mystery: Frederick Penny and the Murders by Poisoning in Glasgow – D. Thorburn Burns
  "I will let that man see yet whether weavers can make dyes!" World War I and the formation of Scottish Dyes Ltd – John Hudson

  Anthony C. Cartwright, The British Pharmacopoeia 1864 to 2014: Medicines, International Standards and the State, 2015 (Anna Simmons)
  Geoffrey M. Bowers and Ruth A. Bowers, Understanding Chemistry through Cars 2015 (Peter Reed)

  Humphry Davy Chemical Landmark Plaque erected in Penzance (Michael Jewess)
  National Chemical Landmark in honour of Sir Edward Frankland, Lancaster Royal Grammar School (John Hudson)
  National Chemical Landmark in honour of Robert Angus Smith

Tenth International Conference on the History of Chemistry (Peter Morris)
The Wheeler Lecture
Bragg Meeting

Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group Meetings
British Society for the History of Pharmacy Meetings
SCI London Regional Group
Institute of Physics History Group Meetings


Contents of previous Newsletters (1996-2015)

PDFs of previous Newsletters (2010-2015)

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

Last update 19 February, 2016

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