Royal Society of Chemistry


Web pages prepared by Dr G P Moss, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, England. E-mail:

Chairman: Dr J A Hudson, Graythwaite, Loweswater, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0SU, England. E-mail:

Secretary: Dr J Nicholson, 52 Buckingham Road, Hampton Middx TW12 3JG, England. E-mail:

Treasurer: Dr P J T Morris, 5 Helford Way, Upminster, Essex RM14 1RJ

Membership: Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]

Newsletter Editor: Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL

The Historical Group exists to encourage an interest in the history of chemistry and chemical industry among members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and others. Membership is open to non-members of the RSC and embraces a wide range from those whose interest in the history of chemistry is a hobby to teachers of chemistry at all levels and professional historians.

The Group holds twice yearly meetings when academic papers are read and discussed. Summaries of papers read at these meetings are included in the Historical Group Newsletter along with reviews of recent books in the subject and news of other meetings and forthcoming events. The Newsletter is published twice yearly. Contributions of not more than 500 words on topics of current interest in the history of chemistry are invited for inclusion at the discretion of the Editor. The contents of the last issue, Winter 2017, are given below with a link to the PDF (1.5 MB).

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on "Some Chemical Consequences of WW1" will be held on Wednesday, 14 March 2018 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BA [Click here for a map of the location of Burlington House which is labelled "The Royal Acad of Arts" (As well as the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House also contains the Geological Society, Linnean Society, Royal Astronomical Society and Society of Antiquaries)].

Some Chemical Consequences of WW1


10.30Registration and tea or coffee
Chairman: John Hudson
11.00John Nicholson
   The consequences of World War 1 on the education of chemists.
11.30Brian Balmer
   Porton Down after World War 1
12.00Alan Dronsfield
   Fighting cancer with chemicals — The mustard gas connection
12.45Lunch. This is not provided but there are several pubs and eating places nearby
Chairman: Alan Dronsfield
14.00Mike Sutton
   Munitions, Mergers and Military Imperatives: from WW1 to ICI.
14.30John Hudson
   James Morton and the formation of Scottish Dyes Ltd.
15.00Cliff Lea
   WW1 — The catalyst which spurred the development of Britain’s first onshore oil wells
15.30Tea interval
Chairman: John Nicholson
16.00Peter Morris
   Ersatz rubber in Germany
16.30Peter Reed
   The hesitant emergence of chemical engineering in the aftermath of the chemists’ war
17.00Concluding remarks
17.10Close of meeting


There is no charge for this meeting, but prior registration is essential. Please register by e-mail with Professor John Nicholson This is expected to be a popular meeting. If having registered, you are unable to attend, please notify Professor Nicholson.

How to join the Historical Group:

If you are a member of the RSC you should contact the Membership Department (01223 432141) quoting your name and membership number. When you have done this please inform the Group's Membership Secretary, Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England, E-mail:]. Those who are not qualified to join the RSC but who are interested in the history of chemistry are welcome to join the Group at an annual subscription of £12 per annum. Please send your name, address, phone number, email address and a cheque for £12 made out to "The Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group" to Prof W P Griffith, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, England. All members of the Group can download the Newsletter as a PDF. Hard copies are available if ordered in advance.

Other Useful Web pages

The Group maintains contact with colleagues in the Division of the History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences.

The Library & Information Centre, Historical Chemistry Information Service.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation.

ACS Historical Division.

The Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry.

Details of Nobel Prize winners; portraits; and other details.

List of Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry.

Chemical Heritage Foundation.

History of Pharmacy Forum.

The History of Chemical Engineering.

The Classic Chemistry Page.

Alchemy Home Page.

Historic samples and specimens from the Chemistry Department, Imperial College, London.

History of chemistry in Heidelberg

Science & Civilisation in China Project (Needham Research Institute).

There is a History of Chemistry Mail List or email

To send messages email

Historical Group Newsletter and Summary of Papers
and Occasional Papers

Short articles on the history of chemistry for the Newsletter are welcome and should be sent to the editor, Dr Anna Simmons, Epsom Lodge, La Grande Route de St Jean, St John, Jersey, JE3 4FL Please consult the Instructions for Authors.

No 73. Winter 2018 Newsletter

For a PDF copy of the Newsletter (960 KB) click here


From the Editor

Message from the Chair

  Some Chemical Consequences of World War 1

OBITUARY Frederick Kurzer (1922-2017) Stanley S. Langer and William H. Brock






  Science Museum
  Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
  Division of History of the American Chemical Societ
  Chemical Heritage Foundation: A New Chapter Begins

  Halothane — The First ‘Made-to-Measure’ Anaesthetic — Alan Dronsfield, Margaret Hill and John Pring
  Mauveine — The Final Word? (5) — Chris Cooksey and Peter J. T. Morris
  The Conversations of Jane Marcet and Delvalle Lowry — G. Jeffery Leigh

  Jim Baggott, Mass: The Quest to Understand Matter from Greek Atoms to Quantum Fields (Michael Jewess)

  Rutherford’s Chemists, Glasgow
  Chemistry and Anaesthesia — Some Historical Perspectives   Symposium Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker
  11th International Conference on the History of Chemistry
  Dyes in History and Archaeology Meeting Report


Contents of previous Newsletters (1996-2017)

PDFs of previous Newsletters (2010-2017)

PDFs of Occasional Papers 6-9

Biographies of Chemists including Confusing Names 1-3 from Newsletters 1998-9

Last update 26 January, 2018

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