About Our Photograph Collection

Click on the categories above to access the online collections. You can also learn how to make a research appointment and arrange for reproductions and usage rights.

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About Our Photograph Collection

CHF’s Image Archives, part of the Othmer Library of Chemical History, contains an extensive collection of photographic prints, negatives, slides, and advertisements illuminating the chemical history of the past century. The collection includes more than 50,000 images of notable chemists, laboratories, industrial scenes, historical gatherings, and chemical artifacts. 

Highlights from the photograph collection include the Williams Haynes Portrait Collection of nearly 1,000 formal portraits of important chemists from the early 1900s; the Travis Hignett Collection of images from the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory (1920–1950); the Joseph Labovsky Collection, which supplies an illustrative narrative of the history of nylon; and the Dow Historical Collection, which chronicles the facilities, operations, and products of one of the world's most prominent chemical companies.   

In addition, informal snapshots and personal photos capture notable scientists at work and at play, such as the polymer chemists Wallace Carothers and Carl Marvel on a fishing trip and chemical engineer Donald Othmer and his wife on their wedding day.

For information about the photograph collection, research assistance, and general questions, contact reference@chemheritage.org.

Searching Our Photograph Collection

A small portion of the holdings is catalogued in our online catalog, Midon, but most items are available for research purposes in the library. The genre terms “photographs” and “photograph collections” will locate photographic materials in the online catalog. These terms can be used in conjunction with keywords in other search fields. A significant portion of materials are also discoverable through our collections management database, which is available to researchers on-site with the assistance of the curator of photographic and moving image collections.  


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View the hidden treasures buried in the Othmer Library’s collections. From the intriguing to the quirky, Othmeralia showcases items unearthed daily by our library’s staff. Learn more »

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