Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry, International Union of History and Philosophy of Science – Division of History of Science and Technology

CHMC is a Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science / Division of History of Science and Technology (IUHPS/DHST). The aim is to focus interest on, and to create a framework for, research on the history of modern chemistry with particular emphasis on twentieth-century chemistry in its relationship to the biomedical sciences, physics, instrumentation, and technology.

Manfred Eigen, Göttingen (Chemistry Nobel Laureate of 1967), and Roald Hoffmann, Ithaca (Chemistry Nobel Laureate of 1981), support the aims of CHMC as Honorary Patrons.

CHMC organizes scientific symposia at the International Congresses of the History of Science and, if possible, in the years in between these congresses.

  • CHMC establishes efficient means of communication for historians of chemistry from all over the world through the electronic news bulletin and mailing list CHEM-HIST.
  • CHMC maintains contacts with other scholarly associations and societies devoted to the history of chemistry or to the history of science and technology. It co-operates with other DHS Commissions and Scientific Sections.
  • CHMC collects data for a World Directory of historians of chemistry.
  • CHMC seeks to encourage other initiatives in the historiography of modern chemistry.

According to IUHPS/DHST statutes, Historical Commissions are international associations financially dependent upon DHST. They report annually to the Secretary General and submit reports on their activities to each General Assembly.

CHMC has no formal membership. Everybody with a scholarly or professional interest in the history of chemistry who communicates and co-operates with the Commission will be considered a member. Business is run by an Executive Council [for members, see the column to the left] approved by IUHPS/DHST Council. Meetings and Conferences are prepared by their respective Program Committees.

Forthcoming Meetings

CHMC is organizing a half-day symposium for the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST), to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 23 to 29 July 2017, with the general theme “Science, Technology and Medicine between the Global and the Local.”  Our symposium, organized by Jeffrey Johnson and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, is entitled, “Re-centering modern chemistry since the 1960s,” and is intended to follow up on the Tokyo workshop of March 2015, on the “Transformation of Chemistry from the 1920s to the 1960s” (see the list of past CHMC conferences in the center column of this website).  For general information on the Congress see their website.  More details on the CHMC symposium will be posted when available. There will also be an important business meeting of CHMC at the Rio Congress; items on the agenda include the selection of a new president to replace Jeffrey Johnson, who must retire after serving two 4-year terms, and discussion of a proposal (currently being drafted) to expand the responsibilities of CHMC by including modern biosciences and biotechnology.  A detailed agenda will be posted when available.

CHMC will also plan sessions for the 11th International Conference on History of Chemistry in Trondheim, Norway, from 29 August to 2 September 2017, and the Annual Meeting of the Society for History of Technology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 26-29 October 2017.

The following meetings and conferences have been organized:

  •  Between Science and Economy: Research in the German Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry, 1900-1945", Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany, 29 June 1998
  • "Recent Issues in the Historiography of Chemistry", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History of Science and Technology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 23–24 July 1998
  • "Between Physics and Biology: Chemical Sciences in the Twentieth Century", Deutsches Museum, Munich, 28–30 May 1999 (Carsten Reinhardt (Editor), Roald Hoffmann, Chemical Sciences in the 20th Century: Bridging Boundaries, March 2001, Hardcover, 300 Pages, ISBN 3-527-30271-9)
  • "The Environment: Historical Context and Present Day Perspectives", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 7–9 November 1999 (Peter J. T. Morris and Anthony S. Travis (eds.), Forty Years Since Silent Spring: Historical Perspectives on the Pollution of Water and Soil by Synthetic Chemicals, 1860-1960, special issue of Ambix, 49 (2002):  1-66)
  • "From Test-Tube to the Autoanalyzer: The Development of Chemical Instrumentation in the Twentieth Century", Imperial College, South Kensington, London, 10-13 August 2000 (From Classical to Modern Chemistry. The Instrumental Revolution, edited by Peter J. T. Morris, copublished with the Royal Society of Chemistry (CHF has North American distribution rights) 2002, Cloth, xxvi + 348, ISBN 0-85404-479-5)
  • "Shifting Centres and Emerging Peripheries: Global Patterns in Twentieth-Century Chemistry", XXI. ICHS, Mexico City, 10 July 2001 (Ernst Homburg (ed.), Shifting Centres and Emerging Peripheries: Global Patterns in Twentieth-Century Chemistry, special issue of: Ambix 52 (2005), pp. 3-87)
  • "Industrial-Academic Relationships in the Chemical and Molecular Sciences", Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, 3–5 October 2002 (Carsten Reinhardt, Harm G. Schröter (eds.), Academia and Industry in Chemistry: The Impact of State Interventions, and the Effects of Cultural Values, special issue of: Ambix 51 (2004), pp. 99-186)
  • "Communication in 20th-Century Chemistry", 4th International Conference on History of Chemistry, Budapest, 3-6 September 2003
  • "Public Images of Chemistry in the Twentieth Century", Cité des Science et de l'Industrie / Maison de la chimie, Paris, 17-18 September 2004 (The Public Image of Chemistry, ed. by Joachim Schummer, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Hyle: International Journal for the Philosophy of Chemistry, vol. 12/1 (June 2006); vol. 12/2 (November 2006) <> and <> and in The Public Image of Chemistry, ed. by Joachim Schummer, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Singapore/London: World Scientific, 2007), 383 pp.)
  • "COLOR: 20th-Century Art, Business, and Chemistry", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 15 April 2005
  • "Globalization and Diversity of Modern Chemistry and Chemical Technology", XXII. ICHS, Bejing, China, 24-30 July 2005 (published in: "Globalization and Diversity in Modern Chemical Sciences,"ed. by Yasu Furukawa, in: Historia Scientiarum, 16/3 (2007), pp. 221-309 = special issue)

    "Globalization and Diversity of Modern Chemistry and Chemical Technology".pdf

  • "History of the Food Chain: From Agriculture to Consumption and Waste", Gödöllö, Hungary, 31 August - 3 September 2006, follow-up meeting to the First European Chemistry Congress, Gödöllö, Hungary, 1-4 September 2006 (published in: History of the Food Chain: From Agriculture to Consuption and Waste - Proceedings, ed. by Éva Vámos, Budapest: Hungarian Chemical Society, 2006; 136 pp., ISBN 963-9319-63-5)
  • "Nineteenth-Century Chemistry: Spaces and Collections", Museum of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 1-4 February 2007 (published in: Spaces and Collections in the History of Science, ed. by Marta C. Lourenço and Ana Carneiro, Lisbon 2009, x + 288 p., ISBN 978-972-98709-6-5).
  • "Neighbours and territories: The evolving identity of Chemistry", Leuven, Belgium, 28 August - 1 September 2007 (published as: Neighbours and Territories: The Evolving Identity of Chemistry, ed. by José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez, Duncan Thorburn Burns and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Louvain-la-Neuve: Memosciences, 2008, 752 pp., ISBN 978-2-9600815-0-3)
  • "Philosophy and History of Chemisty", Coburg, Germany, 3-6 August 2008 (Joint Symposium with the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry)
  •  "History of Materials Research", Göttingen, Germany, 24-27 March, 2009 (Joint Conference with the History Divisions of the German Chemical Society and the German Physical Society). (A selection of papers will be published in: Mitteilungen der Fachgruppe Chemie der GDCh 21 (December 2010), and in a special issue of NTM: Journal of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, vol. 19 (2011).)
  • "Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars", Symposium at the XXIII International Congress of History of Science, Budapest, Hungary, 29 July 2009 (A selection of papers was published, under the guest editorship of Jeffrey Johnson, as a special issue of Ambix: The Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 99-170)

    Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars.pdf

  •  "The Power of Margins: The Construction and Transformation of Disciplinary Identities in Chemistry", Regensburg, Germany, 4-6 December 2009
  •  "Scientific Objects and their Materiality in the History of Chemistry", Berlin, Germany, 24-26 June 2010
  • "Renewing the Heritage of Chemistry in the 21st Century: Conversations on the Preservation, Presentation and Utilization of Sources, Sites and Artefacts", Paris, 21-24 June 2011
    Co-Organised together with: Académie des Sciences, Paris; Société Chimique de France (SCF), Paris; Maison de la Chimie, Paris; ESPCI Paris Tech; Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, USA; and in conjunction with the UNESCO-IUPAC International Year of Chemistry 2011 (site français).
    Final Program and Abstracts for Paris 21-24 June 2011.pdf
  • "Pathways of Knowledge: 8th International Conference on the History of Chemistry", Rostock, Germany, 14-16 September 2011 <>
    Organised by the Working Party on History of Chemistry of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) and the German Chemical Society, with contributions from CHMC

    "Pathways of Knowledge: 8th International Conference on the History of Chemistry", Rostock.pdf

  • Between Material Substances and Abstract Ideas: Chemists' Objects of Inquiry, 18th-21st Centuries”, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, USA, 4-6 October 2012. Organized by Ursula Klein (Max-Planck-Institute for History of Science, Berlin) and Carsten Reinhardt.  The proceedings have been published as Objects of Chemical Inquiry, ed. Ursula Klein and Carsten Reinhardt (Science History Publications, 2014).  The table of contents may be found here.
  • Knowledge at Work,” 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, held in Manchester, UK, Monday 22 - Sunday 28 July 2013.  The program for CHMC’s symposium at this congress, “S104. Materials and chemistry from bench to brand and back,” which was held in four sessions in the morning and afternoon on Friday, 26 July, can be found here.
  • “Session 10. Materials in the 20th and 21st century,” on 24 August at the 9th International Conference for the History of Chemistry, “Chemistry in Material Culture,” 21-24 August 2013, in Uppsala, Sweden. For more information on the 9ICHC, please visit  The program may be found here.  This session was a sequel to the CHMC symposium at the Manchester Congress entitled “Materials and chemistry from bench to brand and back” (see previous listing).
  • Session in honor of Prof. Alan Rocke, co-sponsored by CHMC at the History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, 21‐24 November 2013.  Papers from that session, along with others contributed later, appeared in Annals of Science, 72/2 (2015) (Special Issue: Atomism and Organic Chemistry in Context: Essays in Honour of Alan J. Rocke, guest editor Peter Ramberg).  For contents and abstracts see this link
  • “What Chemistry has Brought to Philosophy: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives,” session co-sponsored by CHMC at the HSS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, 6-9 November 2014.  The program for that meeting may be found here, with the papers listed on p. 27.
  • “Transformation of Chemistry from the 1920s to the 1960s,” International Workshop on the History of Chemistry, (IWHC 2015) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan, 2-4 March 2015, co-sponsored by CHMC along with several other organizations.  The program of the workshop may be found here, and general information about the workshop here.  A volume of proceedings appeared in March 2016, co-edited by Masanori Kaji, Yasu Furukawa, Hiroaki Tanaka, and Yoshiyuki Kikuchi; it can be downloaded here.
  • “Sources for Recent Chemical Biography: Historiographical Issues in Using Digital Sources, Oral and Video History” (session sponsored by CHMC; organized and chaired by Brigitte Van Tiggelen and Jeffrey A. Johnson), 10th International Conference on the History of Chemistry (10ICHC), Aveiro, Portugal, September 9-12 (on 9/10), 2015.  Papers will be published in the conference proceedings, to be edited by Peter J. T. Morris and Isabel Malaquias.  The conference program and abstracts of the papers are in the following file; the CHMC session is on pp. 26-31:
  • After Ypres: The Integration of Science into War, Part I: Chemistry and Chemists through War; Part II: Reactions to the Integration of Science into War” (double session co-sponsored by CHMC and FoHCS [HSS Forum for the History of the Chemical Sciences], organized by Yoshiyuki Kikuchi, chaired by Brigitte Van Tiggelen), History of Science Society Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 19-22, 2015 (on 11/21 and 11/22) (program may be downloaded here; papers are listed on pp. 56-57 and 60-61).



CHMC Executive Council

CHMC mourns the death on July 18, 2016, of Prof. Masanori Kaji (Member of the Executive Council)
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology
Group of History of Science and Technology, W9-79
2-12-1 Ookayama Meguro-ku Tokyo 152-8552, Japan

Please see the following for a collection of tributes to Professor Kaji by his many friends and colleagues in the history of chemistry around the world:

Current members:

Prof. Jeffrey A. Johnson (President, effective from 2011)
Department of History
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085, USA
phone:. +1-610-519-7404
fax: +1-610-519-4450

Prof. Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent (Vice President for professional and disciplinary history)

Université de Paris X - Nanterre
Département de Philosophie
200, av. de la République
F-92001 Nanterre Cedex, France
phone: +33-1-4097 7353/4712
fax: +33-1-4732 3183

Dr. Peter J. T. Morris ((Vice President for history of instrumentation, laboratories, and industrial relations)
Retired Principal Curator at the Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD, England, United Kingdom

Dr. Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Vice President for symposium and congress planning)

Chair, Working Party for the History of Chemistry, European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS)
Université catholique de Louvain and Memosciences, Belgium
Institutional address:  Mémosciences
Voie du Vieux Quartier 18
1348 Louvain-la-neuve

Dr. Danielle M. E. Fauque (Vice President for documentation, museums, and archival relations)
Chair, Club d’histoire de la chimie (CHC), thematic group of the Société chimique de France (SCF)
Member of the French National Committee of History and Philosophy of science (CNFHPS)
chercheur associé GHDSO. bât. 407
Université Paris-Sud 11
91405 Orsay cedex, France
phone: +33 1 40 44 40 16
fax:  +33 1 69 15 43 98

Prof. Ernst Homburg (Treasurer)
Professor of History of Science and Technology
History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Universiteit Maastricht, PO Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
Phone: +31-(0)43-388 3314
Fax: +31-(0)43-388 4917

Former officers of CHF, now serving as members of the Advisory Board:

Professor emeritus Christoph Meinel (past President, 1997-2010; Honorary Chair of the Advisory Board)
Universität Regensburg
Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte
D-93040 Regensburg, Germany
phone: +49-941-943 3659/61
fax: +49-941-943 1985/4992

Prof. Carsten Reinhardt (former Treasurer and Vice President to July 2013)

Former President, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA (2013-2016)
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie
Universität Bielefeld
D- 33615 Bielefeld, Germany

Prof. Yasu Furukawa (former Vice President for development and outreach to July 2013)

President, Japanese Society for History of Chemistry
Nihon University, College of Bioresource Sciences
1866 Kameino, Fujisawa 252-0880, Japan
phone & fax: +81-466-84-3717

Enquiries should be sent to Prof. Jeffrey Johnson, , Dept. of History, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA.