The Chemical Heritage Foundation is home to many significant collections relevant to the history of chemistry. Click on the categories above to access the online collections. You can find information on how to make the best use of the collections, to make an appointment, or arrange for rights usage under How to Access the Collections.
CHF’s Image Archive contains an extensive collection of photographic prints, negatives, and slides reflecting the chemical history of the past century. CHF currently holds more than 20,000 images of notable chemists, laboratories, industrial scenes, historic gatherings, and chemical artifacts. These images hold considerable interest for scholars, journalists, and publishers who are active in chemistry-related fields.
One highlight is the Williams Haynes Portrait Collection of nearly 1,000 formal portraits of important chemists from the early 1900s. Other highlights include 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 provides some powerful 20th-century industrial imagery.
The informal snapshots and personal photos in our collection 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.
Just like the nameless relatives that one comes across in old family photographs, archival collections often come with images that are unidentified or only have minimal information assigned to them. Here are a few from the collections at CHF. If you happen to recognize a photograph or individual please drop the image archivist an e-mail!
From 16th century alchemical paintings to the modern mad scientist of film, laboratory scenes have fascinated and engaged the viewer. Photographs of laboratories are among CHF’s most requested images. In this selection of images are some of the many laboratory images that reside in the archives.