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Bolton Society Symposia: 2001 August

Named for Henry Carrington Bolton, the Bolton Society encourages and promotes the individual love for and collection of all types of printed material devoted to chemistry and related sciences.

Notable antiquarian chemistry book collectors and their public collections I

Organizers: Herbert T. Pratt

Frank Burnett Dains and his history of chemistry collections at the University of Kansas / Kathleen L. Neeley

The history of chemistry collections that Frank Burnett Dains (1869-1948) amassed before and during his thirty plus years as Professor Organic Chemistry at the University of Kansas have and continue to influence the faculty, students and staff at KU. As a member of the American Chemical Society for more than fifty years, Dains was particularly active in the divisions of Chemical Education and the History of Chemistry. Chemists and historians of chemistry throughout the world have also benefited by Dains’ collections and will continue to into the future in ways in which this paper will explain. Special emphasis will be placed on Dains’ image collection, which is locate din University Archives at the University of Kansas.

Chemistry, coal and culture: the library of Eckley B. Coxe / James J. Bohning

Eckley Brinton Coxe once told a friend he had just two things to live for – the burning of anthracite and Lehigh University. Part of the Coxe fortune that came from anthracite became a legacy to the university after his death in 1895. A highly-education coal baron who was the cofounder of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Coxe amassed a unique working library of books, journals, and pamphlets related to science and engineering. One of the finest private collections in Pennsylvania at the time, the Coxe library was housed in a special building at the Cross Creak Coal Company in Drifton, under the watchful eye of a full-time librarian. In 1896 Coxe’s widow, Sophia, shipped more than 10,000 items to Lehigh, where they became an important addition to the technical education of the students a the then thirty-year old university. Much of the original Coxe library remains, although it is scattered throughout the university collection.

Charles Anthony Goessman book collection / Daniel L. Adams

Charles A. Goessmann was the first chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC) and the tenth president of the American Chemical Society. Goessmann was a leader in agricultural chemistry in the United States, making contributions to the production of several important agricultural products. During his professional career he amassed a book collection that was purchased by MAC shortly after his death. This collection of 600 books was incorporated into the College’s library and subsequently dispersed to subsidiary libraries within the University as it grew. This paper will report on the current content and location of this collection. A list of books remaining in the University of Massachusetts libraries and Special Collections department will be available. Details about specific books in the collection will be highlighted where noteworthy.

Ethan Allen Hitchcock alchemy collection in the Mercantile Library, University of Missouri-St. Louis / Harold H. Harris

Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1798-1870), grandson of the Revolutionary War hero, entered the military service in 1814, with his appointment to the new military academy at West Point (which had been established in 1802). He became an outstanding soldier, and served in the Mexican and the Indian Wars. Throughout his career, which included being Commandant at West Point, Hitchcock was known as a scholar and intellectual. Amongst his interests was a fascination with alchemistry and magic, which was manifest in a remarkable collection of about 250 books on these subjects. The collection has been kept together and now resides in the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where it is available to scholars.

Ohio University's gem: The J. W. Morgan Collection / David G. Hendricker, Gary V. Pfeiffer

An advertisement in the March 1959 issue of J. Chem Educ. Read “An extensive collection of books important in the history of chemistry may be obtained by a university or college under certain conditions (non-monetary)." Too good to be true? Not this time! Through the extraordinary efforts of Professor Robert K. Ingham of Ohio University, the Joseph Wayland Morgan Collection, comprising some 1,200 volumes, arrived on the Athens campus by the end of the following month.  Morgan has been identified as the anonymous donor of the History of Science Essay Prize, created in 1947 for the History of Science Society. The strengths and weaknesses of the original collection and its continued development, made possible by grants, and an endowment, will be detailed. The current holdings of the collection, now numbering of 1,900 volumes, may be perused on the web at Click find books, select author and enter Morgan collection.

Edgar Fahs Smith: old chemistries and their messages / Mary Ellen Bowden

Edgar Fahs Smith (1854-1928) assembled a collection of some 3,000 printed volumes, 600 manuscripts, and 1,400 images and artifacts. Smith was not otherwise acquisitive in a material sense; rather, he was an institution builder. As chemistry chairman, vice-provost, and provost of the University of Pennsylvania, he built modern research-oriented institutions. Three times president of the American Chemical Society, he was instrumental in founding its Education and History Division. In his book and manuscript collection activities, as in much else, he was attempting to elevate the status of chemistry. He felt that the subject had taken on far too commercial an image – although for his its application were clearly very important. Students should not be pursuing their studies motivated by potential material gain; they should instead see themselves as participants in a proud intellectual and cultural tradition. Smith’s lecture notes and his historical writings display the many message in old chemistries that he wished to communicate to students and his fellow chemists.