Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry, International Union of History and Philosophy of Science – Division of History of Science and Technology

CHMC is a Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science / Division of History of Science and Technology (IUHPS/DHST). The aim is to focus interest on, and to create a framework for, research on the history of modern chemistry with particular emphasis on twentieth-century chemistry in its relationship to the biomedical sciences, physics, instrumentation, and technology.

Manfred Eigen, Göttingen (Chemistry Nobel Laureate of 1967), and Roald Hoffmann, Ithaca (Chemistry Nobel Laureate of 1981), support the aims of CHMC as Honorary Patrons.

CHMC organizes scientific symposia at the International Congresses of the History of Science and, if possible, in the years in between these congresses.

  • CHMC establishes efficient means of communication for historians of chemistry from all over the world through the electronic news bulletin and mailing list CHEM-HIST.
  • CHMC maintains contacts with other scholarly associations and societies devoted to the history of chemistry or to the history of science and technology. It co-operates with other DHS Commissions and Scientific Sections.
  • CHMC collects data for a World Directory of historians of chemistry.
  • CHMC seeks to encourage other initiatives in the historiography of modern chemistry.

According to IUHPS/DHST statutes, Historical Commissions are international associations financially dependent upon DHST. They report annually to the Secretary General and submit reports on their activities to each General Assembly.

CHMC has no formal membership. Everybody with a scholarly or professional interest in the history of chemistry who communicates and co-operates with the Commission will be considered a member. Business is run by an Executive Council [for members, see the column to the left] approved by IUHPS/DHST Council. Meetings and Conferences are prepared by their respective Program Committees. The following meetings and conferences have been organized:

  • "Between Science and Economy: Research in the German Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry, 1900-1945", Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany, 29 June 1998
  • "Recent Issues in the Historiography of Chemistry", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History of Science and Technology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 23–24 July 1998
  • "Between Physics and Biology: Chemical Sciences in the Twentieth Century", Deutsches Museum, Munich, 28–30 May 1999 (Carsten Reinhardt (Editor), Roald Hoffmann, Chemical Sciences in the 20th Century: Bridging Boundaries, March 2001, Hardcover, 300 Pages, ISBN 3-527-30271-9)
  • "The Environment: Historical Context and Present Day Perspectives", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 7–9 November 1999 (Peter J. T. Morris and Anthony S. Travis (eds.), Forty Years Since Silent Spring: Historical Perspectives on the Pollution of Water and Soil by Synthetic Chemicals, 1860-1960, special issue of Ambix, 49 (2002):  1-66)
  • "From Test-Tube to the Autoanalyzer: The Development of Chemical Instrumentation in the Twentieth Century", Imperial College, South Kensington, London, 10-13 August 2000 (From Classical to Modern Chemistry. The Instrumental Revolution, edited by Peter J. T. Morris, copublished with the Royal Society of Chemistry (CHF has North American distribution rights) 2002, Cloth, xxvi + 348, ISBN 0-85404-479-5)
  • "Shifting Centres and Emerging Peripheries: Global Patterns in Twentieth-Century Chemistry", XXI. ICHS, Mexico City, 10 July 2001 (Ernst Homburg (ed.), Shifting Centres and Emerging Peripheries: Global Patterns in Twentieth-Century Chemistry, special issue of: Ambix 52 (2005), pp. 3-87)
  • "Industrial-Academic Relationships in the Chemical and Molecular Sciences", Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, 3–5 October 2002 (Carsten Reinhardt, Harm G. Schröter (eds.), Academia and Industry in Chemistry: The Impact of State Interventions, and the Effects of Cultural Values, special issue of: Ambix 51 (2004), pp. 99-186)
  • "Communication in 20th-Century Chemistry", 4th International Conference on History of Chemistry, Budapest, 3-6 September 2003
  • "Public Images of Chemistry in the Twentieth Century", Cité des Science et de l'Industrie / Maison de la chimie, Paris, 17-18 September 2004 (The Public Image of Chemistry, ed. by Joachim Schummer, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Hyle: International Journal for the Philosophy of Chemistry, vol. 12/1 (June 2006); vol. 12/2 (November 2006) <> and <> and in The Public Image of Chemistry, ed. by Joachim Schummer, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Singapore/London: World Scientific, 2007), 383 pp.)
  • "COLOR: 20th-Century Art, Business, and Chemistry", Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 15 April 2005
  • "Globalization and Diversity of Modern Chemistry and Chemical Technology", XXII. ICHS, Bejing, China, 24-30 July 2005 (published in: "Globalization and Diversity in Modern Chemical Sciences,"ed. by Yasu Furukawa, in: Historia Scientiarum, 16/3 (2007), pp. 221-309 = special issue)

  • "History of the Food Chain: From Agriculture to Consumption and Waste", Gödöllö, Hungary, 31 August - 3 September 2006, follow-up meeting to the First European Chemistry Congress, Gödöllö, Hungary, 1-4 September 2006 (published in: History of the Food Chain: From Agriculture to Consuption and Waste - Proceedings, ed. by Éva Vámos, Budapest: Hungarian Chemical Society, 2006; 136 pp., ISBN 963-9319-63-5)
  • "Nineteenth-Century Chemistry: Spaces and Collections", Museum of Science, University of Lisbon, Portugal, 1-4 February 2007 (published in: Spaces and Collections in the History of Science, ed. by Marta C. Lourenço and Ana Carneiro, Lisbon 2009, x + 288 p., ISBN 978-972-98709-6-5).
  • "Neighbours and territories: The evolving identity of Chemistry", Leuven, Belgium, 28 August - 1 September 2007 (published as: Neighbours and Territories: The Evolving Identity of Chemistry, ed. by José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez, Duncan Thorburn Burns and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Louvain-la-Neuve: Memosciences, 2008, 752 pp., ISBN 978-2-9600815-0-3)
  • "Philosophy and History of Chemisty", Coburg, Germany, 3-6 August 2008 (Joint Symposium with the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry)
  • "History of Materials Research", Göttingen, Germany, 24-27 March, 2009 (Joint Conference with the History Divisions of the German Chemical Society and the German Physical Society). (A selection of papers will be published in: Mitteilungen der Fachgruppe Chemie der GDCh 21 (December 2010), and in a special issue of NTM: Journal of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, vol. 19 (2011).)
  • "Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars", Symposium at the XXIII International Congress of History of Science, Budapest, Hungary, 29 July 2009 (A selection of papers was published, under the guest editorship of Jeffrey Johnson, as a special issue of Ambix: The Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 99-170)
  • "Pathways of Knowledge: 8th International Conference on the History of Chemistry", Rostock, Germany, 14-16 September 2011 <>
    Organised by the Working Party on History of Chemistry of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) and the German Chemical Society, with contributions from CHMC
  • Summer Symposium, International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry (ISPC), to be held at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in Leuven/Louvain, Belgium, 7-11 August 2012.  Organized by Pieter Thyssen, Brigitte Van Tiggelen (CHMC liaison), and Arnout Ceulemans.
  • "Between Material Substances and Abstract Ideas: Chemists' Objects of Inquiry, 18th-21st Centuries", Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, USA, 4-6 October 2012. Organized by Ursula Klein (Max-Planck-Institute for History of Science, Berlin) and Carsten Reinhardt.
  • Knowledge at Work,” 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, held in Manchester, UK, Monday 22 - Sunday 28 July 2013.  The program for CHMC’s symposium at this congress, “S104. Materials and chemistry from bench to brand and back,” which was held in four sessions in the morning and afternoon on Friday, 26 July, can be found here.
  • “Session 10. Materials in the 20th and 21st century,” on 24 August at the 9th International Conference for the History of Chemistry, “Chemistry in Material Culture,” 21-24 August 2013, in Uppsala, Sweden. For more information on the 9ICHC, please visit  The program may be found here.  This session was a sequel to the CHMC symposium at the Manchester Congress entitled “Materials and chemistry from bench to brand and back” (see previous listing).
  • Session in honor of Prof. Alan Rocke, co-sponsored by CHMC at the History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, 21‐24 November 2013.  Selected papers from that session are forthcoming in a special issue of Annals of Science, 2015, edited by Peter Ramberg. 
  • “What Chemistry has Brought to Philosophy: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives,” session co-sponsored by CHMC at the HSS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, 6-9 November 2014.  The program for that meeting may be found here, with the papers listed on p. 27.
  • “Transformation of Chemistry from the 1920s to the 1960s,” International Workshop on the History of Chemistry, (IWHC 2015) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan, 2-4 March 2015, co-sponsored by CHMC along with several other organizations.  The program of the workshop may be found here, and general information about the workshop here.  A volume of proceedings is being planned, and selected papers will be published in the journal of the Japanese Society for History of Chemistry. 

CHMC Executive Council

Prof. Jeffrey A. Johnson (President, effective from 2011)
Department of History
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085, USA
phone:. +1-610-519-7404
fax: +1-610-519-4450

Prof. Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent (Vice President for professional and disciplinary history)
Université de Paris X - Nanterre
Département de Philosophie
200, av. de la République
F-92001 Nanterre Cedex, France
phone: +33-1-4097 7353/4712
fax: +33-1-4732 3183

Dr. Peter J. T. Morris (Vice President for history of instrumentation, laboratories, and industrial relations)
Principal Curator at the Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London,
SW7 2DD, England, United Kingdom

Dr. Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Vice President for symposium and congress planning)
institutional address:
Voie du Vieux Quartier 18
1348 Louvain-la-neuve

Dr. Danielle M. E. Fauque (Vice President for documentation, museums, and archival relations)
Chair, Club d’histoire de la chimie (CHC), thematic group of the Société chimique de France (SCF)
Member of the French National Committee of History and Philosophy of science (CNFHPS)
chercheur associé GHDSO. bât. 407
Université Paris-Sud 11
91405 Orsay cedex, France
phone: +33 1 40 44 40 16
fax:  +33 1 69 15 43 98

Prof. Ernst Homburg (Treasurer)
Professor of History of Science and Technology
History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Universiteit Maastricht, PO Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
Phone: +31-(0)43-388 3314
Fax: +31-(0)43-388 4917

Prof.Masanori Kaji (Member, specific function to be arranged)
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology
Group of History of Science and Technology, W9-79
2-21-1 Ookayama Meguro-ku
Tokyo 152-8552, Japan
Phone: +81-3-5734-2270
Fax: +81-3-5734-2844

Former officers of CHF, now serving as members of the Advisory Board:

Prof. Christoph Meinel (past President, 1997-2010)
Unifersität Regensburg
Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte
D-93040 Regensburg, Germany
Phone: +49-941-943 3659/61
Fax: +49-941-943 1985/4992
Note:  Prof. Meinel is retiring from his professorship in 2015 but will continue to serve as Honorary Chair of the Advisory Board.

Dr. Carsten Reinhardt (former Treasurer and Vice President to July 2013)
President, Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA  19106

Prof. Yasu Furukawa (former Vice President for development and outreach to July 2013)
President, Japanese Society for History of Chemistry
Nihon University, College of Bioresource Sciences
1866 Kameino, Fujisawa 252-0880, Japan
phone & fax: +81-466-84-3717


Forthcoming meetings:

Enquiries should be sent to Prof. Jeffrey Johnson, , Dept. of History, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA.

CHMC is currently organizing sessions for the International Conference on History of Chemistry on "Chemical Biography in the 21st Century" at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, 9-12 September 2015 (information here), and the History of Science Society Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, 19-22 November 2015 (information here). More details on the sessions will be posted when available.