ACS President: John W. Draper (1811-1882)

Served as President: 1876

First president of the American Chemical Society

A pioneer in photography who took the first photograph of the moon and one of the first photographs of a living human being, his sister


  • Doctorate, 1836, University of Pennsylvania, Medicine

Career Highlights:

  • Professor of chemistry, physiology and natural philosophy, 1838-82, New York University
  • President of medical school, 1850-73, NYU

Notable Accomplishments:

Wrote papers on radiant energy, capillary attraction, respiration, and chemical analysis. Studied the nature of flames and the condition of the sun’s surface. Photographed Fraunhofer lines. Determined that ignited solids yield a continuous spectrum. Invented chlorohydrogen photometer. Wrote textbooks on chemistry, human physiology and natural philosophy.

Major Awards and Honors:

  • Elected member, National Academy of Sciences, 1877
  • Rumford Medal for research on radiant energy from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1875
  • Honorary L.L.D., Princeton University

Service to Science:

  • Member, American Philosophical Society, 1843
  • Member, Physical Society of London

Did You Know

. . .that John Draper and the founding of ACS became a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2001?

. . .that New York University in 1976 founded the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought in honor of his life-long commitment to interdisciplinary study?

. . . that in 1869 William H. Nichols (future ACS president) studied under Draper, whom Nichols considered to be “the most outstanding of all the chemists of that time”?

Former ACS President John W. Draper