The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry comprises a dynamic community of scholars interested in the history and social studies of chemistry, broadly construed. It is the home of academic programming at CHF, including a weekly talk series (Brown Bag Lectures), a book series in the history of chemistry put out by University of Chicago Press (Synthesis), an annual conference organized by a leading scholar in the history of science community (the Gordon Cain Conference), and occasional conferences and workshops by leading historians of chemistry who are interested in working with CHF’s staff and whose work appeals to the broader scholarly community at CHF.
The Beckman Center is also home to CHF’s fellows, of whom there are roughly 18 annually, making the Beckman Center the largest private fellowship program in the history of science in the United States. The Beckman Center, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2012, is proud to count among its alumni a long list of distinguished researchers (see Current and Former Fellows). We also offer travel grants to support one or two weeks of research using CHF’s collections.
- Applications are no long being accepted for 2013-2014 fellowships. New applications will be available in Fall of 2013.
- Fellow in Focus Lecture: Jan Golinski. “Humphry Davy’s Consolations in Travel: Last Thoughts of a Chemical Philosopher.” will take place on November 8, 2012, 6:00 p.m., at CHF.
- The conference “Between Material Substances and Abstract Ideas: Chemists’ Objects of Inquiry, 18th–21st Centuries” was held at CHF from October 4–6. Organized by Carsten Reinhardt (Institute for Science and Technology Studies, University of Bielefeld) and Ursula Klein (Max-Planck-Institute for History of Science), it assembled an international group of scholars (including former fellows Jeremiah James, Charlotte Bigg, Catherine Jackson, Seymour Mauskopf, Brigitte Van Tiggelen, and Carsten himself) for what turned out to be a very rewarding and exciting program.
- Lawrence Principe’s The Secrets of Alchemy will be availablein November 2012 from the Synthesis series (a series in the history of chemistry, broadly construed; published by University of Chicago Press in partnership with the Chemical Heritage Foundation). The Secrets of Alchemy places alchemy in its rightful, significant place in human history and culture, surveying its origins, practices, and influence on other sciences of the early modern world. The book is concisely written and meant for a broad audience.
- Roughly 200 historians of science from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain attended an opening reception for the 3 Societies Meeting, held here in Philadelphia. The meeting featured many current and former CHF fellows and was by all accounts a great success.
- Evan Ragland, Sidney M. Edelstein Fellow at CHF from 2009 to 2011, won the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry’s Partington Prize for 2011 and the American Association for the History of Medicine’s Shryock Medal for the best graduate-student paper in the history of medicine.
- CHF and the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC) are pleased to announce that Evan Hepler-Smtih of Princeton University is the winner of the 2012–2013 Rumford Scholarship in the History of Alchemy or Chemistry. This annual award enables its recipient to travel to Europe in order to undertake original research in the history of chemistry or alchemy in libraries, archives, or museum collections using those institutions’ particular resources. The award may be used in any European country. The value of the award is £2,300.
Beckman Center Scholars are an international group, coming to CHF from countries including China, Spain, Greece, France, and the United Kingdom; their scholarship is diverse and yet they form a strong community. Pictured here is the 2010-2011 class of fellows on an excursion to the Hagley Library in Delaware.
The Beckman Center offers several fellowships for scholars doing research in the history and sociology of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries. In the 2010–2011 academic year the center awarded four postdoctoral fellowships, three dissertation fellowships, and ten short-term fellowships, making CHF one of the leading centers for independent research in the history of science and technology in the United States.
CHF fellows are encouraged to interact with the robust history of science community in Philadelphia. Fellows also participate in an informal writing group, which provides a critical but collegial setting in which to develop works in progress. Travel grants for short visits (less than one month) are also available to support focused research in the Othmer Library.
Click here for information about the SHAC-CHF Rumford Scholarship for research in Europe. Applications due April 7.
Each year the Beckman Center hosts the Cain Conference, organized by an eminent scholar who works with CHF staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. The 2011 conference, pictured here, was organized by Jim Fleming and was titled "Chemical Weather and Chemical Climate: Body, Place, Planet in Historical Perspective."
The Beckman Center hosts a series of Brown Bag Lectures on Tuesdays during the spring and fall terms. At these lectures CHF fellows, travel grantees, staff, and other area scholars talk on topics involving the history of chemistry, political and social issues of importance to chemists and chemical engineers, and issues affecting the future of chemical research. The center also hosts occasional academic conferences and symposia.
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.
2012 marks the 25th anniversary of CHF's Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry.
CHF welcomes 16 fellows for the 2012-13 academic year. Together with nearly a dozen scholars on staff, CHF hosts a sizable community of people working in some aspect of the history and sociology of chemistry and related sciences.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation has hosted scholars from all parts of the world through its fellowship and travel grant programs. If you are interested in applying for a particular fellowship, take a look the cast of scholars who have held these fellowships in the past.
These individuals and foundations make CHF one of the leading history of science and technology research centers in the United States.