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Othmer Library of Chemical History

The Donald F. and Milder Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History – Chemical Heritage Foundation – 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106


The Othmer Library of Chemical History collects, preserves, and makes accessible materials relating to the history of science, technology, and medicine, with an emphasis on chemistry and chemical engineering from ancient to modern times. The Othmer Library currently houses approximately 160,000 print and microform volumes, rare books and manuscripts, significant archival materials, and historical photographs of great value to researchers and our cultural heritage. Together these collections form an unrivaled resource for the history of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries.

Holdings related to the First World War span archival manuscript and photographic materials, as well as published monographs and print journals. Industrial mobilization and developments in science and technology are well-documented in several key corporate collections, including the records of the Dow Chemical Company, Hercules Incorporated, and the Rohm & Haas Company. Trade journals effectively chronicle the maturation of the American chemical industry both during and after the war while several archival collections document postwar efforts to identify peacetime applications for wartime technology. Other items of note include Francis E. Scott’s U.S. Army Gas School Notebook and several volumes on the identification and treatment of gas poisoning

For a full listing of our World War I resources, please consult our research guide

Notable Collections

Dow Chemical Historical Collection, 1897-2006 (bulk 1900-1990)

Papers of Herbert H. Dow, 1872-1930 (bulk 1915-1922)

Records and Ephemera of Hercules Incorporated, 1913-1997

Rohm & Haas Company Archives, 1743-1998 (bulk 1907-1983)

Travis P. Hignett Collection of Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory Images, 1920s-1950s (bulk 1926-1930)

Notable Individual Resources

America’s Munition’s 1917-1918: report of Benedict Crowell, the Assistant Secretary of War, Director of Munitions / by United States. War Dept., 1919

American industry in the war; a report of the War Industries Board (March 1921) / by Bernard M. Baruch, 1941

Annual chemical directory of the United States, 1918-1919

Chemical age (New York), 1919-1920

Chemical age (New York), 1920-1925

Defense against chemical attack / by United States. Army. Chemical Warfare Service, 1940

First aid in the prevention and treatment of chemical casualties / by United States. Office of Civilian Defense. Medical Division, 1941

Fünf Vorträge aus den Jahren 1920-1923 / by Fritz Haber, 1924

History of the manufacture of explosives for the world war, 1917-1918 / by W. Bradford Williams, 1920

Industrial America in the world war; the strategy behind the line, 1917-1918 / by Grosvenor B. Clarkson, 1923

La chimie et la guerre: science et avenir / by Charles Moreu, 1920

Medical manual of chemical warfare / by Great Britain. War Office, 1941

The story of the First gas regiment / by James Thayer Addison, 1919

United States Army Gas School notebook; 1918


Highlights from the Othmer Library's collections


“Backing the Fighter.”<br/><small>Hercules Powder Company Advertisement, 1918. Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections.</small> Gas mask illustrations, 1925.<br/><small>Illustration from Revista de Chimica e Pharmacia Militar. Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections.</small> DuPont Life Saving Service Powder label.<br/><small>Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections.</small> Various types of gas masks.<br/><small>Illustration from American Munitions, 1917-1918. Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections.</small> U.S. Army Gas School Notebook, 1918<br/><small>Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections.</small> Chemical Warfare Service laboratory<br/><small>Travis P. Hignett Collection of Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory Images, Chemical Heritage Foundation Image Archives.</small>


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Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

This museum preserves and maintains this Revolutionary War era fort and offers extensive programming to the public.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is one of the world's premier research collections in the history of medicine. The unique holdings include over 400 incunables (books printed before 1500), an extensive collection of manuscripts and archives, and a comprehensive collection of 19th and early 20th-century medical journals.

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

The description, collection summary, and notable resources for the Athenaeum of Philadelphia


Last Modified: 2023-08-03 16:23:28