The 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 or alphabetically.
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.
Atomic hypothesis and discrete nature of matter
Amedeo Avogadro, Journal de Physique (1811). Includes "Avogadro's hypothesis" that equal volumes of gas contain equal numbers of molecules. (Link to a biographical sketch of Avogadro, a picture of him, and some notes on Avogadro's number.)
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; it is currently in the form of an extensive excerpt to be added to. Link to 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"
John Dalton, excerpts from A New System of Chemistry (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. (Link to a 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. (Link to a biographical sketch of Gay-lussac or a picture of him.)
Karlsruhe Congress, 1860, account written by Charles-Adolfe Wurtz. The first international chemistry congress debates the reality and terminology of atoms and equivalents. (Link to a photo of Wurtz or a biographical paragraph.)
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.
Jean Charles de Marignac (1860): commentary on the paper by J. S. Stas that probed and dismissed Prout's hypothesis.
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 a photo of Berthelot.)
James Clerk Maxwell, reviews the physical atomic-molecular theory (1873). (Link to 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).
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.
Jean Perrin (1909): excerpt on Brownian movement and the reality of molecules, including an esimation of Avogadro's number (and the coining of that term). Link to a biographical sketch of Perrin.
Joseph Louis Proust (1799): on definite proportions of copper carbonate. (Link to a biographical paragraph on Proust or a picture of him.)
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). (Link to a picture of Prout.)
Jean S. Stas, on atomic weights of common elements (1860), deems Prout's hypothesis an illusion. (See also companion paper by Marignac.)
Thomas Thomson, "On the Daltonian Theory of Definite Proportions in Chemical Combinations" (1813), an early amplification and defence of Dalton's ideas. (View a picture of Thomson in the Edgar Fahs Smith Collection.)
Louis Pasteur (1861) on alcoholic fermentation and beer yeast. (Link to further information on Pasteur.)
Electricity, Electrochemistry, and electrolyte solutions
Svante Arrhenius: 1887 paper "On the Dissociation of Substances Dissolved in Water" concerning electrolyte solutions. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Niels Bjerrum: 1909 paper on solutions of strong electrolytes. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
J. N. Br?nsted: 1923 paper on the concept of acids and bases. This paper is at the ChemTeam site as is this photo.
P. Debye and E. Hückel: 1923 paper on colligative properties of electrolyte solutions. This paper is at the ChemTeam site, as is a photo of Debye.
Michael Faraday: excerpt of 1834 paper "On Electrical Decomposition", which coined such common terms as electrode, anode, cathode, anion, and cation. Faraday also announced the result that the "chemical decomposing action of a current is constant for a constant quantity of electricity". This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biography of Faraday by 19th-century physicist John Tyndall.)
Hermann von Helmholtz: 1881 Faraday lecture on Faraday and electricity. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biographical sketch of Helmholtz.)
Lord Kelvin (William Thomson): excerpt from 1902 paper speculating on how discrete electrical charges ("electrions") within atoms might underlie properties of those atoms. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Wilhelm Friedrich Ostwald: 1888 paper describing dilution law. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biographical sketch of Ostwald.)
S?ren S?rensen: excerpt from 1909 paper which introduces the pH scale. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (View a picture of S?rensen at the Edgar Fahs Smith Collection.)
Alessandro Volta: on the battery, 1800, using discs of silver and zinc. This paper is at the ChemTeam site as is this picture.
The Electron and Electronic Structure of Matter
Johann Balmer: from 1885 paper noting numerical regularities in wavelength of lines of the hydrogen spectrum. (Link to a biographical sketch of Balmer.)
Niels Bohr: 1913 excerpt of address on application of Planck's quantum hypothesis to the spectrum of hydrogen. (Link to a biographical sketch of Bohr.)
Niels Bohr: his model of the atom, 1913. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Niels Bohr: 1921 excerpt on the "correspondence principle" of quantum theory.
Niels Bohr: 1921 paper on electron configurations and atomic structure. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Charles R. Bury: 1921 paper on the arrangement of electrons in atoms; gives electron configurations for most of the periodic table. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
W. Kossel: 1916 paper on relationship of bonding to periodic table and atomic structure. (This paper is at the ChemTeam site.)
Irving Langmuir: 1919 papers on the octet theory of chemical bonding. These papers are at the ChemTeam site: 1 and 2 . (Link to a biographical sketch of Langmuir.)
G. N. Lewis: 1916 paper on the electron pair bond. This paper is at the ChemTeam site, as is this picture. (Link to a biographical sketch of Lewis.)
Hantaro Nagaoka (1904): from Saturnian model of atomic structure (i.e., ring of particles around a central force). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a photo of Nagaoka.)
Jean Perrin (1895): collects cathode rays, obtaining a negative charge. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Max Planck (1920): excerpt on the quantum of action from Nobel Prize address. (Link to a biographical sketch.)
George Johnstone Stoney (1894): asserts priority for suggesting that electric charge comes in discrete packages, and proposes the term "electron" for the "atom of electricity". This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to biographical information on Stoney.)
J. J. Thomson: in time for the centennial of the discovery of the electron, the 1897 paper which announced it to the scientific community. Some of Thomson's contemporaries thought he must be kidding when he claimed that cathode rays were electrically charged particles with a mass-to-charge ratio 1000 times less than hydrogen ions. (Link to a biographical sketch of Thomson or more information on the discovery of the electron.)
J. J. Thomson: 1899 paper further characterizing cathode ray corpuscles by identifying them with thermoelectric, photoelectric, and radioactivity phenomena and measuring their mass. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
J. J. Thomson: excerpt from "On the Structure of the Atom ..." (1904), elaborating the "plum pudding" model. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
J. J. Thomson: excerpt from "On the Number of Corpuscles [i.e., electrons] in an Atom" (1906). The number is of the same order as the atomic weight, not thousands of times that number. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
J. J. Thomson: Nobel Prize in Physics Award Address, 1906, on the characterization of the electron.
J. J. Thomson: on the positive rays of electric discharge tubes (1913), recognizing them as atoms and molecules stripped of one or more electrons, describing essentially an early mass spectrometer, and giving evidence for a heavy isotope of neon.
Pieter Zeeman (1897): description of the magnetic splitting of spectral lines now named after him; includes measurement of the charge-to-mass ratio of what we now call the electron, independent of Thomson's cathode-ray research. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biographical sketch of Zeeman.)
Elements: Nature, Number, and Discovery
Aristotle: On Generation and Corruption. This work is at the Internet Classics Archive at MIT. The first five parts of Book II in particular discuss elements, and in particular the system of four elements that predates Aristotle.
Robert Boyle: The Sceptical Chymist (1661), page images at University of Pennsylvania. Boyle does not know how many elements there are or what those elements may be; however, he knows that those who believe the elements to be earth, air, fire, and water or mercury, sulfur, and salt do so on an insufficient basis. See HTML excerpts at this site (Classic Chemistry). (Link to a biographical sketch of Boyle or a picture of him.)
Pierre and Marie Curie: in its centennial year, the 1898 announcement of a new radioactive element, polonium. (Link to a biographical sketch of Curie.)
Pierre and Marie Curie and G. Bémont: in time for its centennial, the December 1898 announcement of a new strongly radioactive element, radium.
Humphry Davy: isolation of the alkali metals sodium and potassium (1808). (This paper is at the ChemTeam site. Link to a biographical sketch of Davy.)
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Thenard (1809): attempts to decompose "oxygenated muriatic acid" (the gas which we know as chlorine) prove difficult; the authors consider the possibility that it is an element, but are not convinced. The paper contains some interesting photochemistry as well. (Link to a biographical sketch of Gay-lussac or Thenard or a picture of Gay-Lussac or Thenard.)
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. (Link to a biography of Lavoisier.)
Antoine Lavoisier (1783): maybe not the first to recognize that water was a compound and not an element, but he certainly had a clearer command of the phenomenon than his English phlogistonist contemporaries, Cavendish and Watt.
Antoine Lavoisier: Preface to Elements of Chemistry (1789); discusses chemical nomenclature and the definition of element
Antoine Lavoisier: Table of simple substances (elements) from Elements of Chemistry (1789); includes his criterion for considering a substance elementary
Paul émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran: 1877 excerpt on discovery of gallium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Lars Nilson: two excerpts (1879, 1880) on the discovery of scandium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Paracelsus: 16th century on alchemy and the metals. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to biographical information on Paracelsus.)
Joseph Priestley: a report describing the discovery of oxygen in terms which continue to embrace the phlogiston theory; it is refreshing in Priestley's frank admission of astonishment at the results he describes. (Link to a biographical sketch of Priestley or a picture of him.)
Joseph Priestley: 1789 paper skeptical of the idea that water is the exclusive result of burning hydrogen in oxygen.
Lord Rayleigh, Royal Institution Proceedings (1895). An informal lecture describing the discovery of argon by the author and Sir William Ramsay.
Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1774): excerpts from investigations of "manganese", describing the gas which we know as chlorine. (View a picture of Scheele or a drawing of his laboratory.)
James Watt (1784): "Thoughts on the Constituent Parts of Water" (excerpt). (Link to a biogarphy of Watt by Andrew Carnegie.)
Clemens Winkler: two excerpts (1886) on the discovery of germanium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Svante Arrhenius, Philosophical Magazine (1896) excerpt. Not a paper about acidity, electrolyte solutions, or the temperature dependence of rate constants, but rather about the greenhouse effect including an attempt to compute temperature effects in a world with twice as much carbon dioxide. (Link to a biographical sketch of Arrhenius.)
Paul Crutzen, "The influence of nitrogen oxides on the atmospheric ozone content", by Paul J. Crutzen, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 96, 320-325 (1970). (Copyright ?1970. Posted with the permission of the author, the Royal Meteorological Society, and the Journal.) This paper proposes the major ozone-destruction mechanism in the natural stratosphere. (Crutzen was one of three recipients of the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Link to his home page.)
John Dalton. The author of chemistry's atomic theory studied the gases of the atmosphere first (read 1802).
Michael Faraday, 1855 letter to The Times on the foul condition of the Thames. While not a formal scientific paper, this letter (at the ChemTeam site) shows Faraday's powers of observation and plain description turned to a topic which continues to engage scientists and policymakers.
Joseph Black (1756). A description of several reactions involving carbonates and their release of "fixed air" (carbon dioxide). (View a picture of Black in the Edgar Fahs Smith collection.)
Robert Boyle on the relationship between pressure and volume of a gas (Boyle's law), 1662. This excerpt and a facsimile are in a discussion of Boyle's law at the ChemTeam site.
Robert Boyle, (1672). Excerpts on the difficulty of getting anything to burn in a vacuum.
Henry Cavendish: determined that the "phlogisticated" part of the atmosphere (i.e., nitrogen) could be converted to niter, all except possibly a tiny fraction of less than 1% by volume (probably argon). (Link to a biographical sketch of Cavendish.)
John Dalton: on gases of the atmosphere, including their partial pressures (read 1802).
Humphry Davy: early paper on chlorine and its compounds (1811). This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
Michael Faraday (1823): on the liquefaction of chlorine. (This paper is at the ChemTeam site.)
Benjamin Franklin. This founding father was a scientist as well as a statesman. In this letter he describes the effects of marsh gas to Joseph Priestley. Link to more on Franklin.
Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac: 1802 excerpt reports that all gases and vapors expand the same amount with increased temperature.
Jan Baptista van Helmont: three short excerpts from the border of alchemy and chemistry, including coining of the term gas and an experiment producing a tree from water. Link to biographical information.
Jan Ingenhousz, (1779). Describes the ability of plants to "improve" the air in a process which requires light. This intriguing description of photosynthesis didn't get everything right, however. Link to a biographical sketch of Ingenhousz or modern description of photosynthesis.
Antoine Lavoisier (1775-1777): Excerpts from three papers on properties of oxygen at the ChemTeam site. The first identifies oxygen as what combines with metals to make calces (and is available in full here); the second looks at respiration; the third examines burning of candles.
Antoine Lavoisier, read before the Academie royale des sciences (1775). Puts forth his theory of combustion and criticizes the phlogiston theory.
Johann Josef Loschmidt (1865): estimates the size of air molecules. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
John Mayow: convincing argument that the air contains at least two portions, one of which nurtures flame and enters the blood in respiration (1674). Link to biographical information on Mayow.
Lord Rayleigh, Nature (1892). Interesting because of its frank admission of puzzlement and call for assistance in resolving anomalies which would eventually lead to the discovery of argon.
Joseph Priestley (1772): instructions and observations on making carbonated water. (This item is available as facsimile images at the ChemTeam site.)
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. Link to biographical information on Rey.
Evangelista Torricelli (1644). Letter describing the barometer (includes an illustration). (Link to more information on Torricelli or view his picture.)
Jacobus van't Hoff: osmosis and the analogy between solutions and gases (1887). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. Link to a biographical sketch of van't Hoff.
Summary by 李晓霞 on 2000-04-13
Last updated by 杨宏伟 on 2002-10-08