Classic Papers from the History of Chemistry
(and Some Physics too)


"Reading all the good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries." -- René Descartes

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Carmen Giunta and I keep each other informed of our parallel work in posting classic chemistry papers. His classic papers page has additional papers to the ones on this site. His site is thematically organized and links back to the papers posted here. I intend to continue posting the papers I transcribe in a more-or-less chronological order.

Carmen's top page has additional history of chemistry information and links. I recommend you give his site a visit.

You may also be interested in my Chemists' Photo Gallery.


Primary Articles (almost all are excerpted)

  1. c. 50 BC - An excerpt from Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) Wikipedia entry on De Rerum Natura
  2. 15?? - an example of Paracelsus' alchemical writing
  3. 1677 - Roemer on the speed of light
  4. 1749 - Benjamin Franklin "Experiments and Observations on Electricity"
  5. 1763 - Boscovich develops theory of point-like atoms
  6. 1772 - Priestley on making carbonated water
  7. 1775, 1777 - Lavoisier on the composition of the atmosphere
  8. 1798 - Count Rumford on heat
  9. 1800 - Volta on the battery
  10. 1807 - Thomson on Dalton's Atomic Theory
  11. 1808 - Davy discovers sodium and potassium
  12. 1808 - Thomson "On Oxalic Acid"
  13. 1808 - Wollason "On Super-acid and Sub-acid Salts"
  14. 1811 - Avogadro's Essay
  15. 1811 - Davy on chlorine
  16. 1823 - Faraday liquifies chlorine
  17. 1828 - Wöhler on Urea
  18. 1829 - Brownian Motion
  19. 1834 - Faraday on electrolysis
  20. 1840 - Hess' Law
  21. 1845 - Joule on the mechanical equivalent of heat
  22. 1858 - Cannizzaro's Sketch of a Course of Chemical Philosophy
  23. 1860 - Kirchhoff & Bunsen on chemical analysis by spectra
  24. 1864 - Waage & Guldberg on the Law of Mass Action
  25. 1865 - Loschmidt on the size of an air molecule
  26. September 1874 - van 't Hoff on the tetrahedral carbon atom
  27. November 1874 - LeBel on the tetrahedral carbon atom
  28. 1877 - The Discovery of Gallium
  29. 1879 - The Discovery of Scandium
  30. 1881 - Helmholtz's Faraday Lecture
  31. 1886 - The Discovery of Germanium
  32. 1887 - Arrhenius on electrolytic dissociation
  33. 1887 - van 't Hoff on osmosis
  34. 1888 - Ostwald's dilution law
  35. 1894 - Ostwald on catalysis
  36. 1894 - Stoney uses the term electron
  37. 1895 - Perrin on cathode rays
  38. 1897 - the Zeeman effect
  39. 1899 - Rutherford discovers Alpha and Beta radiation
  40. 1899 - Thomson "On the Masses of the Ions in Gases at Low Pressures"
  41. 1900 - Rutherford discovers half-life
  42. 1901 - Planck discovers the quantum
  43. 1902 - Kelvin on atomic structure
  44. 1904 - Thomson on the structure of the atom
  45. 1904 - Nagaoka on the structure of the atom
  46. 1906 - Thomson on the number of corpuscles in an atom
  47. 1907 - Arrhenius on the Thomson (1904) model of the atom
  48. 1909 - Geiger & Marsden discover wide-angle alpha particle scattering
  49. 1909 - Sörenson's introduction of pH
  50. 1909 - Bjerrum on strong electrolytes
  51. 1910 - Geiger determines the most probable angle of alpha scattering
  52. 1911 - Rutherford's first announcement of the nucleus concept
  53. 1911 - Rutherford's full paper on the discovery of the nucleus
  54. 1911 - van den Broek's first letter on the atomic number concept
  55. 1913 - Fajans on isotopes
  56. 1913 - Geiger and Marsden do an extensive alpha particle scattering survey
  57. 1913 - van den Broek's second letter on the atomic number concept
  58. 1913 & 1914 - Moseley on the high frequency spectra of the elements
  59. 1913 - the Bohr Model of the Atom
  60. 1914 - Rutherford follows up his 1911 nucleus paper
  61. 1916 - Lewis on the shared electron pair bond
  62. 1916 - Kossel on chemical bonding
  63. 1919a - Langmuir on Octet Theory
  64. 1919b - Langmuir on Octet Theory
  65. 1920 - Aston on mass spectroscopy
  66. 1920 - Debye explains the origin of the van der Waals force
  67. 1920 - Latimer and Rodebush on the Hydrogen Bond
  68. 1921 - Bohr on the electronic structure of the periodic table
  69. 1921 - Bury on the electronic structure of the periodic table
  70. 1922 - Brackett discovers the series named for him
  71. 1923 - Brønsted on acids and bases
  72. 1923 - Debye & Hückel on strong electrolytes
  73. 1924 - Stoner on the correct Electron Distribution in orbitals
  74. 1925 - Pauli on the fourth quantum number
  75. 1925 - Uhlenbeck & Goudsmit discover spin
  76. 1929 - Lennard-Jones predicts the paramagnetism of dioxygen
  77. 1932 - Chadwick discovers the neutron (letter)
  78. 1932 - Chadwick discovers the neutron (article)
  79. 1932 - Pauling on electronegativity
  80. 1934 - Fermi mistakenly identifies a transuranic element
  81. 1934 - Noddack responds to Fermi on element 93
  82. 1934 - Rutherford discovers fusion (letter)
  83. 1934 - Rutherford discovers fusion (article)
  84. 1939 - Hahn and Strassmann announce the discovery of fission
  85. 1939 - the above article in the original German
  86. 1939 - Meitner on fission
  87. 1939 - Hahn and Strassmann follow up on fission
  88. 1939 - Frisch on fission
  89. 1939 - Bohr on the Liquid Drop Model of Fission
  90. 1949 - Eyewitness account of first atomic reactor

Secondary Articles

  1. How the Theory of Solutions Arose

Biographical Articles

  1. The Genius of James Clerk Maxwell, Part 2
  2. The Genius of James Clerk Maxwell, Part 3

Miscellaneous Articles

  1. 1855- Faraday complaining about pollution
  2. Birthplace of the Web
  3. A Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century Chemical Terms