ACS President: Theodore W. Richards (1868-1928)

Served as President: 1914

First American scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Many of his 60 papers on thermochemistry contained data that were still listed among the standard values in handbooks as late as 1976.


  • Ph.D., 1888, Harvard University, Chemistry

Career Highlights:

  • Director, Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, Harvard University, from beginning in 1912 until his death
  • Chair, Chemistry Department, Harvard University,1903-11
  • Faculty, Harvard University, 1909-28

Notable Accomplishments:

Best known studies were determinations of the atomic weights of 25 elements.

His atomic weight determinations were so skillfully performed that they were selected by the International Committee on Atomic Weights without question.

As a part of a theoretical study of the behavior of galvanic cells at low temperatures, he developed an adiabatic calorimeter. It made possible his and his students later successes in thermochemistry.

Major Awards and Honors:

  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1914

Service to Science:

  • President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1917
  • President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1919-1921

Did You Know

. . . that his mother felt public education was geared toward the slowest student, so he was home schooled from elementary through secondary years?

. . . that he entered Haverford College in 1883 at the age of 14, receiving his B.S. in 1885?