Chemical Information Sources/Chemical History, Biography, Directories, and Industry Sources

Introduction edit

How do you find an address of a known chemist or chemical manufacturer? Who can supply a chemical in a needed quantity? How can you improve your chances of finding a job in chemistry? Answers to these and related questions can be found in the sources discussed below.

Historical Information edit

There are a number of guides that can help you find information on the history of science. Sarton's A Guide to the History of Science, published in 1952, is the standard printed work in the field. Cambridge History of Science <2003-2009> is a more recent publication. On the Web is Doug Stewart's History of Science/Science Studies Reference Sources bibliography. The second edition of Milestones in Science and Technology (1994) is subtitled "The Ready Reference Guide to Discoveries, Inventions, and Facts." The History of Science, Technology and Medicine Database is produced by four institutions with coverage from 1975. Isis, an official publication of the History of Science Society, began in 1912 and covers the history of science, medicine, and technology.

For chemistry, Sturchio's The History of Chemistry: A Critical Bibliography (1985) provides excellent coverage, but more recent (1994) are the Bibliography on the History of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, 17th to the 19th Century, edited by Valentin Wehefritz and Chemical History: A Review of the Recent Literature (2005), edited by Gerrylyn Roberts and Colin Russell. The 1998 revision of the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Introducing the Chemical Sciences is an introductory guide designed particularly for teachers and their students. For a timeline of the major events that have shaped chemical science, see the German-language work Chronologie Chemie by Sieghard Neufeldt. In that work, the most important writings in chemistry are summarized by year, and there is also much valuable information on topics such as the development of chemical nomenclature and older scientific periodicals.

A number of books on the history of chemistry that appeared in the last decades:

  • From Chemical Philosophy to Theoretical Chemistry (1993)
  • The Historical Development of Chemical Concepts (1991)
  • The History of Chemistry (1992)
  • Ideas in Chemistry: A History of Science (1992)
  • Murder, Magic, and Medicine (1994)
  • The Chemical Tree: A History of Chemistry (2000) was originally published in the US under the title The Norton History of Chemistry (1993) and in England as The Fontana History of Chemistry (1992)
  • From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story (2007)

A relatively new journal in the field is Foundations of Chemistry (Philosophical, Historical, Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies of Chemistry). HYLE, the International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, has also overlap with history of chemistry. For historical material on chemistry, a unique resource is the Royal Society of Chemistry's Library and Information Centre. The LIC has over 3,500 historical chemical books from the 16th-19th centuries and over 7,000 images of distinguished chemists. In the United States, in addition to the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, the Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati is a research-level collection containing over 7,000 journals and 10,000 monographs from the late 16th to mid-20th century.

Biographical Information edit

Biographical Sources: A Guide to Dictionaries and Reference Works (1986) is a good place to start for sources of information on famous chemists and other scientists. It contains such things as birth and death dates, details of education, honors, positions held, and sometimes even family details.

The most important English-language compilation for scientists of all ages is the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, which has about 5000 biographies for scientists who are no longer living. The 24-volume American National Biography appeared in 1999 and is also available online. It includes biographies of more than 19,000 men and women. The standard source for biographical information on living scientists in the U.S. and Canada is American Men and Women of Science. Frequently revised since the original edition was published in 1906, the current edition always lists only living scientists. Hence it is important for libraries to retain all editions of the work. Of assistance in finding entries in previous editions of AM & WS is American Men and Women of Science Editions 1-14 Cumulative Index. AM & WS is also available as a database.

The Marquis Who's Who series of publications has long been a standard source for brief biographical information. Among their more specialized publications is Who's Who in Science and Engineering. The Nobel Prize winners can be found on the Internet in the Chemistry Section of the Nobel Prize Internet site. A printed work with similar information is Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, 1901-1992. It includes biographies, photos, and references to the laureates' most significant publications, as well as their family backgrounds. Women in Chemistry and Physics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook covers 75 historical and contemporary women scientists, ranging in birth from 370 AD (the first noted woman mathematician, Hypatia) to 1941 AD (astrophysicist Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley). Included are three women who served as presidents of the American Chemical Society: Helen Murray Free, Mary Lowe Good, and Anna Jane Harrison. American Chemists and Chemical Engineers first appeared in 1976, with a second volume published in 1994.

Directories of Scientists and Scientific Organizations edit

The Internet has made the task of establishing contact with an industrial chemist or scientific organization (company, professional society, academic or governmental institution) considerably easier than in the past. However, there is no all-encompassing world-wide directory or search engine that will allow us to find the needed address in all cases.

The ACS Directory of Graduate Research is a frequently-published, reliable source of information on research universities in the US, Canada, and Mexico. It is on the Web as DGRWeb. The ACS Directory of Graduate Research is published every two years. The current online version (2011) includes access to the 2009, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001, and 1999 databases. A version of the 1993 and 1995 DGRs appeared on a CD-ROM entitled ACS Directories on Disk.

The DGRWeb can be searched by faculty and institution. Search for faculty includes section (biochemistry, chemical engineering, cheminformatics, chemistry, environmental science, marine science, medicinal and/or pharmaceutical chemistry, polymers and materials science, toxicology), research area (analytical, bioorganic, NMR spectroscopy, organometallic, etc.), academic rank, and state. Search for institution includes state and programs offered, and provides contact information, a faculty list, and statistical data on staff, enrollment, and degrees.

Published by AIChE/Wiley, The Chemical Engineering Faculty Directory contains contact information of chemical engineering faculty worldwide. The frequently updated online version is arranged by institution and location.

The International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)'s World Directory of Crystallographers is an online directory of crystallographers and scientists employing crystallographic methods. The WDC can be searched by name, country and research interests.

For organizations, the Directory of American Research and Technology was published between 1986 and 1998. The Research Centers Directory, International Research Centers Directory and Government Research Directory provide contact information and descriptions on university, government, and non-profit research organizations.

Directories of Suppliers of Chemicals and Chemical Laboratory or Plant Equipment edit

Most chemical suppliers, such as Thermo Scientific, Sigma-Aldrich, Acros Organics , Boc Sciences, and Alfa Aesar have their catalogs on the Web. Also, the series of directories with the title Chem Sources is an excellent printed source for U.S. and international suppliers.

Accessible via SciFinder and STN, CHEMCATS is a database of catalogs from worldwide suppliers for commercially available chemicals, enzymes, proteins, and other biochemical substances. Included are catalogs from both manufacturers and distributors of chemicals, including such firms as Sigma-Aldrich and Strem, plus Ishihara, Maybridge and many others. On SciFinder, there is a direct link from the chemical record to the suppliers's listing ("Get Commercial Sources").

Additionally, companies with access to the Accelrys Available Chemicals Directory (Accelrys ACD) can find worldwide suppliers for compounds.

Information about chemical manufacturers can be had from IHS' Directory of Chemical Producers (formerly SRI's Directory of Chemical Producers) and Chemical Information Services's Directory of World Chemical Producers (DWCP). The Directory of Chemical Producers includes nine separate country or regional directories (US, Canada, China, East Asia, Europe, India, Mexico, Middle East & Africa, and South & Central America) and is also available online. The Directory of World Chemical Producers is available online, in print and CD-Rom. One can purchase the global version or regional versions (Africa/Middle East, Asia/Oceania, China, Europe, India, North America, and South America).

For equipment, a revered source found in most libraries is the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. Covering approximately 150,000 companies, the Thomas Register is available online, on the Web (as ThomasNet). Searches can be conducted by company name, product, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, trade or brand name, geographical location, etc.

Information on Chemical Industries and Businesses edit

Worldwide chemical business news can be found in Chemical Business NewsBase (CBNB) and Chemical Industry Notes (CIN). CBNB was launched in 1985 and it is currently available via Elsevier's Engineering Village. CBNB coverage includes business news and financial results, market information, legislative changes that impact industry, economic trends, and R&D developments. CIN has been produced by CAS since 1974 and it covers business news in the areas of production, pricing, sales, facilities, products and processes, corporate activities, government activities and the people who work in those areas. CIN is available on STN.

Published since 1971, the Kline Guide to the U.S. Chemical Industry covers marketing, economic, and company information. The focus is more on the end-use markets for chemical categories that include many speciality applications and formulated products. IHS' Chemical Economics Handbook can be found in most business libraries with an interest in chemistry. The source is worldwide in its coverage. It emphasizes industrial chemicals, covering supply, process, prices and trade.

Chemical news magazines, such as IHS Chemical Week and Chemical & Engineering News frequently have special issues devoted to analyses of the industry as a whole or certain subareas of the chemical industry, such as coatings, polymers, etc. For instance, Chemical & Engineering News publishes yearly the World Chemical Outlook and the Global Top 50 Chemical Producers.

Finally, raw data on the US chemical manufacturing industry can be found in the United States Census Bureau. Searches can be conducted using NAICS codes.

Books on industrial chemistry include:

  • The Chemical Industry (1993)
  • Industrial Organic Chemistry (1993)
  • Introduction to Industrial Chemistry (1991)
  • Survey of Industrial Chemistry (1992)
  • The Chemical Industry at the Millennium: Maturity, restructuring, and globalization (2003)
  • Shaping the Industrial Century: The remarkable story of the evolution of the modern chemical and pharmaceutical industries (2005)
  • Ashford's Dictionary of Industrial Chemicals (2011)
  • Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (2009)
Summary edit

The Web has certainly made it easier to find a chemist, laboratory, academic chemistry department, or other organizations that are involved with chemistry. Nevertheless, there are important (and sometimes very expensive) printed and database materials that can help you zero in on information involving the chemical industry, including suppliers and market reports. Finally, historical information about important chemists or chemical organizations is relatively easy to find by using library OPACS (online public access catalogs) and Web materials.

CIIM Link for further study

SIRCh Link for Chemical History, Biography, Directories, and Industry Sources