Science History Institute

The Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) is a library, museum, and center for scholars. The Institute maintains collections, including instruments and apparatus, rare books, fine art, and the personal papers of prominent scientists, corporations, and institutions, all related to chemistry, chemical engineering, the modern life sciences, and related sciences, technologies, and industries. The Institute also hosts conferences and lectures, supports research, offers fellowships, and produces public exhibitions. Our programs provide insight on subjects ranging from the history of alchemy to the social impact of nanotechnology.


History of chemistry, chemical engineering, modern life sciences, and related sciences, technologies, and industries


The Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History houses approximately 150,000 volumes that form an unrivaled resource for the history of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries. The collection contains primary sources from the 15th through the 21st century. The library houses 3,870 journal titles with several titles spanning nearly 200 years.; over 50,000 historical photographs; and over 6,000 linear feet of personal papers and corporate and organizational records (e.g., the papers of Paul Flory, Carl Marvel, Alan MacDiarmid, Paul Lauterbur, and Richard Smalley, the historical archives of the Dow Chemical and Rohm & Haas companies, and the unpublished records of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Chemists’ Club). Othmer Library Catalog.
The Museum at the Science History Institute has a fine-art collection that contains more than 500 works of art ranging from oil paintings to engravings to mixed media. Our holdings include captivating and even comical scenes of alchemists and chemists, satirical caricatures of early medical practitioners, and modern depictions of the chemical industry, among other treasures; the object collection includes artifacts and scientific instruments of historical interest and significance that document the history of chemistry and chemical engineering and their impact on society. Artifacts range from some of the first pre-production nylon stockings to early batteries, glassware, and apparatus.
With interviews dating back to 1979, the Oral History Collections at the Science History Institute offer scholars an invaluable resource for the study of the history of science. Our interviewees include Nobel laureates and National Medal of Science recipients (among hundreds of others), and discussions cover wide-ranging topics like science during both World Wars, chemistry sets, the importance of mentors and mentoring, and the challenges of balancing a family life with a career in science.
The Science History Institute's Digital Collections offer highlights from our library, archives, museum, and oral history collections. Our chronology ranges from the Roman Empire to the 21st century, and the materials include everything from fine art to rare books and from scientific objects to photographs. The purpose of our Digital Collections is to manage, preserve, and provide access to our digital assets all in one location. Although the Digital Collections include only a small portion of our entire collection, new material is added every day.

Collections URL

Holding Highlights

  • 150,000 books and journals dating back to the 15th century
  • 6,000 rare books, including the noted Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library
  • Over 6,000 linear feet of manuscripts, including institutional and corporate collections (including the Dow Company and Rohm & Haas historical archives) and the personal papers of Paul Flory, Carl Marvel, Alan MacDiarmid, Richard Smalley, Paul Lauterbur and many others
  • Over 50,000 historical photographs depicting scientific instruments and apparatus, laboratory facilities, industrial production, advertising and marketing, and even the visual history of chemistry
  • Historical artifacts, including over 700 chemical instruments and 90 chemistry sets
  • Over 90 works of art and 200 prints of chemical subjects dating back to the 17th century
  • More than 1,100 oral history interviews with leaders in chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical sciences, and related fields, with an increasing focus on diversity in STEM
  • 3,870 journal titles, dating from 1819
  • Over 6,000 digitized items, including artifacts, photographs, advertisements, letters, rare books, and more, freely available for download in a variety of formats and sizes at
  • Library Catalog

Fellowship URL

Link to Calendar of Events