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Historical Chemical Literature

Modern chemical science had its origins in the Enlightenment period, and so did its literature. Papers on chemical topics were published in many scholarly journals, often those of various academies and philosophical societies throughout Europe and America. Journals dedicated to chemistry, such as Crell's Chemisches Journal (1778) and Lavoisier's Annales de Chimie (1789), began to appear in the late 18th century. Abstracts of literature appeared almost simultaneously in various publications, including Crell's. Yet for most English-speakers, 1907 -- the year Chemical Abstracts began -- is the watershed date that now serves as a somewhat arbitrary demarcation between "modern" and "historical" chemistry. This guide lists some resources that can be helpful in identifying and locating older chemical literature.  Remember that your best resource in this area is your librarian.

Abstracts in Other Journals

Prior to the establishment of formal indexing services in the 20th century, some major journals published their own abstracts of selected literature. In addition to the journals listed above, others were:
  • Annalen der Chemie. 1832-60
  • Annales de chimie et de physique. 1789-1870
  • Bulletin de la Société chimique de France. (Répertoire de chimie pure and Répertoire de chimie appliqué) 1857-?
  • Chemische Berichte. ca.1880-96  (The German Chemical Society published abstracts (Referate) in its Berichte from about 1880 (in a separate section after 1884) until it took over publication of Chemisches Zentralblatt in 1897.)
  • Journal für praktische Chemie. 1834-73
  • Journal of physical chemistry. 1896-1906
  • Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1879-90 (JACS published abstracts from major foreign journals starting in its first volume in 1879; this section disappeared after 1890. (A separate section abstracting patents of interest to chemists can also be found in these early years.) After 1897 the Review of American Chemical Research was included as a supplement. The pre-1890 abstracts have been digitized in the ACS Archive and have been added to the CAPLUS file in SciFinder.)
  • Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry. 1882-1925 (merged into British Abstracts)
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