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.
The Othmer Library of Chemical History is home to an extraordinary collection of rare books, which began with acquisitions from The Chemists’ Club, Donald F. Othmer’s bequest of his personal library, and other individual purchases (made most notably through the Sidney M. Edelstein Book Fund), donations, and bequests.
In 2004 the Othmer Library became the steward of the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library, which represents one of the richest, most comprehensive, and most cohesive single deposits of books on the history of chemistry in the world. Roughly 6,000 titles in all, the Neville collection comprises materials that date from the late 15th century to the early 20th century and includes many of the most important works in the history of science and technology from this period.
In the early years of the revolutionary war, the colonists fighting the British in North America deployed a secret weapon, a unique and cherished national treasure: Benjamin Franklin. Dispatched to Paris, first as one of five commissioners to the court of Louis XVI and then alone as minister to France, Franklin undertook an audacious mission, a diplomatic balancing act in which an avowed revolutionary sought support for defying a European sovereign from a fellow European sovereign.
Especially rich in titles from the 17th and 18th centuries, The Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library boasts concentrations of works on a wide array of subjects, including those depicting early chemical industry and commerce such as distillation, dyes and dyeing, the gas-lighting industry, saltpeter, as well as the manufacture of steel, glass, and alcoholic beverages. Alchemy is exceptionally well represented, as are the closely related subjects of mining and metallurgy, botany, natural history, and balneology.