International Year of the Periodic Table

Mendeleyev's periodic table
Mendeleyev’s periodic table

2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table, [1] celebrating the 150th anniversary of the table’s creation. See a  “briefing” about this anniversary that appears in the Access Science database, accessible through Lehigh’s subscription.[2]

What better way to close out this celebratory year than by pointing out library resources related to the history of chemistry as well as Lehigh’s role in it. Lehigh’s Special Collections has online exhibits that feature the periodic table. One exhibit is 2018’s “At a Glance: Selected Works in the History of Data Visualization”, which included  “Mendeleyev’s Periodic Table” [3]. Another exhibit, “Daring Knowledge: Diderot’s Encyclopedie,” features an illustrated plate from the 18th century encyclopedia depicting early chemical instrumentation and a “table of affinity,” used to organize alchemical compounds. [4]

Diderot's Laboratory and Table of Affinities
Diderot’s Laboratory and Table of Affinities

Lehigh also has an extensive collection of historical books in chemistry. You can view the records of these books in Lehigh’s library catalog by clicking here. [5] If you are interested in seeing any of these materials, please contact Special Collections [6] or fill out a request form if you are at Lehigh. In conjunction with the Science Librarian, [7] Special Collections hosts classes in which students can view and get hands on experience with historical works in the sciences. Lehigh’s library guide “History of Science in Learning and Teaching Science” [8] addresses the values of history in learning or teaching about science.

Lehigh’s own contribution to the history of chemistry is significant. The building we know today as Chandler-Ullmann Hall was originally constructed in 1884 as the Wiliam H. Chandler Chemistry Building and won a medal in design at the 1889 International Exposition in Paris. William Chandler, for whom the laboratory is named, was Lehigh’s first chemistry professor as well as the school’s first University Librarian. William’s brother Charles was also a chemistry professor at Columbia University. Harry M. Ullmann, the namesake of the building’s 1938 addition, served as the chemistry department chair from 1914 to 1938.  According to an American Chemical Society article, [9] subtitled a “A National Historic Chemical Landmark,” the ACS dedicated Chandler Laboratory as a landmark on March 26, 1994. The article notes that “the architectural innovations embodied in the Chandler Laboratory created the model of modern chemical education”. The brothers Chandler edited “The American Chemist”, which the article describes as “a pioneering American journal and a forerunner of the Journal of the American Chemical Society”, commonly known as “JACS”. In this way, Lehigh helped consolidate in America the great advances in chemical knowledge embodied in the periodic table.











Leave a Reply