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Guide to School of Chemical Sciences History

The knowledge of chemistry and the growth of chemical industries paralleled the development of instruction and research in chemistry at the University of Illinois. On May 8, 1867, the Trustees' Committee on Courses of Study recommended the appointment of a professor of chemistry. Ambrose .P.S. Stuart was appointed in 1868. The early science faculty recognized the fundamental importance of chemistry in the sciences, agriculture and engineering. While taxonomy, measurement and microscopy dominated the curriculum, the original faculty were well aware of the importance of a basic knowledge of chemistry. When the Illinois Industrial University was ten years old, the second major building to be built was a chemistry laboratory.

College & Departmental Archives

The earliest departmental records are found in College of Science Correspondence, 1895-1913 (Record Series 15/1/2 & 3: 5 cubic feet) and continued in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Departmental Files, 1913-72 (RS 15/1/1; 72 c.f.). Departmental Letterbooks, 1896-1906 (RS 15/5/2; 1 c.f.) cover early development. Information on chemistry enrollments may be found in charts and tables issued by the Office of Admissions and Records. The department has published periodic Histories, 1916-61 (RS 15/5/801; 1 c.f.), student news in the Illinois Chemist, 1915-25 (RS 15/5/15 & 825; 1 c.f.), and alumni news in the Alumni Newsletter, 1968- (RS 15/5/826; 1 c.f.). The Chemical Engineering classes of 1930 and 1933 have also published Newsletters, 1931- (RS 15/5/820 & 821; 1 c.f.).

Faculty Papers

Faculty papers provide a major supplement to the departmental records. Early development is covered in the Arthur Palmer Papers, 1893-1903 (RS 15/5/20; 1 c.f.). The growth of the modern department is recorded in the William A. Noyes Papers, 1870-1942 (RS 15/5/21; 9 c.f.). Inorganic chemistry is represented by the B. Smith Hopkins Papers, 1917-63, organic chemistry by the papers of George D. Beal and Clarence Derrick (1914-67) and water chemistry in the Edward Bartow Papers, 1870-1959 (RS 15/5/35; 4 c.f.). The Roger Adams Papers, 1812-1971 (RS 15/5/23; 24 c.f.) document the contributions of the architect of the modern department in his administrative work on campus, in industrial and foundation research contacts and in national assignments relating to postwar German and Japanese science. Major work in organic chemistry is documented in the William Rose Papers, 1923-66 (RS 15/5/27; 1 c.f.), Reynold C. Fuson Papers, 1924-67 (RS 15/5/24; 1 c.f.) and Duane T. Englis Papers, 1912-67 (RS 15/5/34; 7 c.f.). Inorganic chemistry is covered in the John C. Bailar Papers, 1852-1988; 1 c.f.), Therald Moeller Papers, 1937-69 (RS 15/5/32; 2 c.f.), and G. Frederick Smith Papers, 1923-72 (RS 15/5/33; 1 c.f.). The George L. Clark Papers, 1914-68 (RS 15/5/31; 4 c.f.) contain material on spectroscopy. The Ludwig F. Audrieth papers, 1927-66 (RS 15/5/28; 1 c.f.) document postwar German chemistry. The Virginia Bartow Papers, 1908-80 (RS 15/5/37; 1 c.f.) relate to the history of chemistry.

Late 20th century chemistry at Illinois is represented in the Herbert E. Carter Papers, 1935-70 (RS 15/5/29; 2 c.f.), Herbert A. Laitenen Papers, 1949-74 (RS 15/5/36; 1 c.f.), Herbert S. Gutowsky Papers, 1963-67 (RS 15/5/38; 1 c.f.), Sherlock Swann Papers, 1925-80 (RS 15/5/39; 1 c.f.) and the Irwin C. Gunsalus Papers, 1962-84 (RS 15/5/40; 40 c.f.).


The Archives extensive photographic holdings include exterior and interior views of the first chemistry laboratory (1879), Noyes Laboratory (1909), Chemistry Annex (1930) and the Roger Adams Laboratory (1955). Faculty portraits are located in RS 39/2/20, 39/2/25 and 39/2/26.

Student Organizations

An extensive collection of student organization records includes the records of campus chapters of Alpha Chi Sigma (1924-31) and Iota Sigma Pi (1915-75) and the Alpha Chi Sigma national journal (1910-95) and history (1927).


The archives holds the Charles Shamel Papers, 1874-1949 (RS 26/20/3; 16 c.f.), a chemistry graduate in 1890. The careers of hundreds of other chemistry graduates are documented in the Alumni Files, 1882-1995 (RS 26/4/1; 222 c.f.).

The University Archives is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. For specific inquiries about holdings and access, contact:

University Archives
19 Library
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801

Telephone (217) 333-0798
Fax (217) 333-2214

Last updated June 17, 1996.