The following papers from the history of chemistry are available as html files. Many are seminal papers in their fields. Some are interesting curiosities. Papers are arranged by subject below, or alphabetically.
Selected Classic Papers
History of Chemistry
Most of the entries reside either at the Classic Chemistry site at Le Moyne College or on the historical papers section of John Park's ChemTeam site. Links to classic papers outside the Classic Chemistry site are clearly credited.
- Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen (1860): bright-line flame spectra (applied to alkali metals and alkaline earths). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to biographical data on Bunsen and Kirchhoff.)
- Chandrasekhara V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan: 1928 paper on the Raman effect (posted by Jim Holler, Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky). View a biographical sketch of Raman and of .
- Mikhail Tswett: excerpts from two 1906 papers describing chromatography and applying it to separation of plant pigments. View page images (in German) of entire original papers one and two. See more information on Tswett.
- Amedeo Avogadro, Journal de Physique (1811). Includes "Avogadro's hypothesis" that equal volumes of gas contain equal numbers of molecules. View page images of original paper (in French). See a biographical sketch of Avogadro, a picture of him, and some notes on Avogadro's number.
- Jöns Jacob Berzelius on the cause of chemical proportions (1813): the atomic hypothesis and some difficulties with it. Link to a biographical sketch.
- Roger Boscovich: excerpts from a 1763 treatise on atoms as point-like centers of force. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. Link to a biographical sketch.
- Stanislao Cannizzaro (1858): This outline of a course in chemical philosophy was instrumental in establishing the validity of Avogadro's hypothesis and in setting atomic weights on a generally accepted basis. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of the original (in Italian). See a biographical sketch.
- John Dalton: 1803 article on solubility of gases in water, including Dalton's first investigation of the "relative weights of the ultimate particles of bodies." View page images of the original.
- John Dalton, excerpts from A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808). Dalton's atomic hypothesis as well as the erroneous hypothesis that the simplest compound containing two elements contains atoms in a one-to-one ratio. Includes a figure representing various simple and compound atoms. View page images of the book. See biographical sketch of Dalton or view his picture.
- Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, read before the Philomathic Society (1808). Reports results that combining ratios of many gases are ratios of small integers. View page images of original (in French). See a biographical sketch of Gay-lussac or a picture of him.
- Karlsruhe Congress, 1860, account written by Charles-Adolphe Wurtz. The first international chemistry congress debates the reality and terminology of atoms and equivalents. See biographical information on Wurtz.
- Johann Josef Loschmidt (1865): estimates the size of air molecules. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original (in German). See further information on Loschmidt.
- Lucretius, excerpts from a 17th-century English verse translation of the Latin verse treatise De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). This selection speculates about Nature's bodies unseen and the Voyd. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. Full text is available from the Internet Classics Archive.
- Pierre-Joseph Macquer: 1766 dictionary entry on aggregation makes distinctions among what we would now call atoms, molecules, and reactants. View page images of complete original and a contemporary English translation. See biographical information on Macquer.
- Jean Charles de Marignac (1860): commentary on the paper by J. S. Stas that probed and dismissed Prout's hypothesis. See further information on Marignac.
- Jean Charles de Marignac and Marcellin Berthelot on atoms, equivalents, and notation (1877): first an article by Marignac, then a response by Berthelot, and another brief response by Marignac. They disagree over notation, but both are skeptical about the existence of atoms. (Link to further information on Berthelot.)
- James Clerk Maxwell, reviews the physical atomic-molecular theory (1873). View page images of original. See a biographical sketch of Maxwell.
- James Clerk Maxwell, on the kinetic molecular theory (including Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of molecular speeds) and its support for the molecular nature of matter (1875). View page images of original.
- Isaac Newton, from the end of his Opticks (1704). This passage, which inspired Dalton's atomic hypothesis, also treats the nature of God and induction in scientific method. Look here for more on Newton or connect to the rest of the Opticks.
- Jean Perrin (1909): excerpt on Brownian movement and the reality of molecules, including an estimation of Avogadro's number (and the coining of that term). See a biographical sketch of Perrin.
- Joseph Louis Proust (1799): excerpt on definite proportions of copper carbonate. View page images of entire original (in French). See a biographical sketch on Proust.
- Joseph Louis Proust (1806, excerpt): reserves the word compound for materials with definite proportions. View page images of entire original (in French).
- William Prout, noting that densities of gases are multiples of the density of hydrogen, speculates that hydrogen may be the primary material from which all other materials are made (1815-16). View page images of original and of erratum, both published anonymously. See a biographical article on Prout.
- Jean Servais Stas, on atomic weights of common elements (1860), deems Prout's hypothesis an illusion. See further information on Stas and companion paper by Marignac.
- Thomas Thomson: excerpts from A System of Chemistry (1807) that represent the first public explanation of Dalton's atomic ideas. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. See biographical information on Thomson.
- Thomas Thomson: 1808 paper on oxalic acid and oxalates relevant to law of multiple proportions and atomic hypothesis. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original.
- Thomas Thomson, "On the Daltonian Theory of Definite Proportions in Chemical Combinations" (1813), an early amplification and defence of Dalton's ideas. View page images of entire original.
- S. E. Virgo: 1933 review article on Loschmidt's number. This paper is at Thomas Furtsch's site at Tennessee Technological University.
- William Whewell: excerpt from 1840 paper expressing positivist skepticism about atomic theory. View page images of original chapter or volume. See biographical information on Whewell.
- William Hyde Wollaston: 1808 paper on super-acid and sub-acid salts relevant to law of multiple proportions and atomic hypothesis. This paper is at Google books. Link to biographical data on Wollaston.
- F. G. Banting, C. H. Best, J. B. Collip, W. R. Campbell, & A. A. Fletcher (1922): "Pancreatic extracts in the treatment of diabetes mellitus". This paper is at the James Lind Library.
- Eduard Buchner (1897) on alcoholic fermentation without yeast cells, implicating an enzyme. This paper is at Athel Cornish-Bowden's website at the Laboratoire de Bioénergétique et Ingénierie des Proteines. See page images of the original (in German). View further information on Buchner.
- Michel-Eugène Chevreul (1814) on a new fat called margarine. (Link to biographical sketch of Chevreul.)
- Heinrich Hlasiwetz and Josef Habermann (1873): analysis of proteins (caesin, in this excerpt) and prevalence of what we now call amino acids. View page images of the entire original (in German).
- Franz Hofmeister (1902): structure of proteins, in particular the peptide bond. View page images of entire original (in German). See more information about peptides.
- Leonor Michaelis and Maud Leonora Menten: 1913 paper on enzyme kinetics (invertase), translated by Roger Goody and Kenneth Johnson. Link to further information about this groundbreaking paper.
- Gerardus Johannes Mulder (1839): excerpts on elemental analysis of proteins, coins term protein. View page images of full original (in German).
- Louis Pasteur (1861) on alcoholic fermentation and beer yeast. View page images of original (in French). See further information on Pasteur.)
- Louis Pasteur (1863): germs are implicated in putrefaction, contrary to the notion of spontaneous generation. View page images of original (in French).
- Louis Pasteur (1876): physiological theory of fermentation (This paper is in the Internet Modern History Sourcebook, Fordham). View page images of entire book (English translation or original French).
- William Prout (1827): analysis, classification, and organization of bio-organic materials. View page images of original.
- Johann Christian Reil: excerpt from "On the Vital Force" (1796) says that "forces", such as the vital, animal, and vegetable forces are simply the properties of matter. View page images of original (in German). See biographical sketch of Reil.
- Moritz Traube (1858) on the chemical nature of ferments and putrefaction. View page images of entire original (in German). See biographical information on Traube.
- James Watson and Francis Crick (1953): structure of DNA. View further information about Watson and Crick.
- Archibald Scott Couper: 1858 paper on structural formulas. View page images of original in English or slightly expanded, in French. See biographical information on Couper.
- Edward Frankland: complete 1852 paper on organometallic compounds; it contains an early and clear statement of the concept of valence. (Thanks to John Park for transcription.) Link to further information on Frankland.
- Jacobus van't Hoff: optical activity and the tetrahedral geometry of carbon (1874). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. Link to a biographical sketch of van't Hoff.
- Jacobus van't Hoff on stereochemistry: page images of brief 1875 monograph La Chimie dans l'espace: original (in French). Van 't Hoff further developed these ideas in Dix Années dans l'histoire d'une théorie (1887, in French; English translation, 1891, as Chemistry in Space; revised and enlarged as The Arrangement of Atoms in Space, 1898).
- August Kekule: excerpt of 1865 paper on the structure of aromatic compounds. This paper is on Rod Beavon's chemistry site. (Link to further information on Kekule.)
- Walther Kossel: 1916 paper on relationship of bonding to periodic table and atomic structure. (This paper is at the ChemTeam site.) See a biographical sketch of Kossel.
- Irving Langmuir: 1919 papers on the octet theory of chemical bonding. These papers are at the ChemTeam site: 1 and 2. View page images of original 1 and 2. See a biographical sketch of Langmuir.
- Wendell Latimer and Worth Rodebush on "Polarity and Ionization from the Standpoint of the Lewis Theory of Valence" (1920); the last section on associated liquids describes hydrogen bonding. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original. See biographical information on Latimer or Rodebush
- Joseph Achille Le Bel: tetrahedral geometry of carbon (1874). This paper is at the ChemTeam site as is this photo.
- G. N. Lewis: 1916 paper on the electron pair bond. Transcribed text is at the ChemTeam site, as is this picture. Page images are at Pauling Archives). (Link to a biographical sketch of Lewis.)
- Louis Pasteur: 1860 lecture on optical rotation, crystal structure, and molecular asymmetry; it describes manual separation of non-superimposable crystals. View page images of original (in French) as well as subsequent lectures.
- Linus Pauling (1931): "The nature of the chemical bond" (first paper in a series) describes hybrid orbitals. This paper is at the Pauling archive, Oregon State University. See biographical information on Pauling.
- Linus Pauling (1932): on the continuum between covalent and ionic bonds (paper three in "The nature of the chemical bond" series) This paper is at the Pauling archive, Oregon State University.
- Linus Pauling (1932): Pauling's electronegativity scale and its relationship to bond energies (paper four in "The nature of the chemical bond" series) This paper is at the Pauling archive, Oregon State University.
- John Slater (1931): introduces hybrid orbitals in the context of tetrahedral carbon compounds. This paper is at the Pauling archive, Oregon State University. Download biographical information on Slater.
- Alexander Williamson: synthesis of ether and structure of ethers and alcohols (1850). View page images of original 1850 paper and full 1851 lecture. Read further information about Williamson.
- Robert Boyle, (1672). Excerpts on the difficulty of getting anything to burn in a vacuum.
- Michael Faraday, The Chemical History of A Candle. This series of lectures, delivered in 1860, is at Google Books.
- Louis Bernard Guyton de Morveau (1772) argues that there is nothing absurd about the weight of phlogiston; it is just lighter than air. (Link to further information about Guyton de Morveau.)
- Antoine Lavoisier, read before the Academie royale des sciences (1775). Identification of the substance (oxygen) which combines with metals upon calcination; this version includes paper as read in 1775 and as published (revised) in 1778. View page images of 1775 and 1778 originals (in French). See a biography of Lavoisier.
- Antoine Lavoisier, read before the Academie royale des sciences (1775). Puts forth his theory of combustion and criticizes the phlogiston theory. View page images of original (in French).
- Antoine Lavoisier: Oeuvres, (Paris, 1862-1893, 6 vols.): searchable electronic edition at CNRS (French national center for scientific research)
- Joseph Priestley, Considerations on the Doctrine of Phlogiston and the Decomposition of Water: 1796 summary of reasons to doubt the new antiphlogistic theory and retain that of phlogiston. View page images of original.
- Jean Rey (1630): Essays on the cause of the increase in weight of tin and lead upon calcination (excerpts). Rey says that the air is the cause, foreshadowing the conclusion established by solid experimentation nearly a century and a half later. View page images of English translation (Alembic Club, 1895) and of 1777 French edition. See biographical information on Rey.
- Georg Ernst Stahl: three short passages from the father of the phlogiston theory: an early (1697) mention of phlogiston and its association with sulfur; a later (1718) association of the term phlogiston with the principle sulfur; and still later (1723) a formal definition of chemistry and outline of the structure of matter. View page images (in Latin) of the books that include the first (Zymotechnia fundamentalis) and last passage (Fundamenta Chymiae). See biographical information on Stahl or view a picture of him.
- Richard Watson: 1789 paper on the properties of phlogiston. [transcribed by Joel Benington, St. Bonaventure University]. View page images of the original essay or book of essays. Watson was bishop of Llandaff, Wales, and Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge.
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