Cradles of Chemistry

National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program

These universities, buildings, laboratories, and collections have been recognized for their special role in nurturing chemistry, advancing the discipline, and preserving its legacy for future generations.

Chandler Laboratory

Lehigh University | Bethelehem, PA

The William H. Chandler Chemistry Laboratory at Lehigh University was conceived and planned by William Henry Chandler (1841-1906), professor, chairman, librarian, and acting president of Lehigh University. Designed by Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton and erected in 1884 and 1885 at a cost of $200,000, the structure contained such novel features as steam-heated reaction baths, heated chimneys as exhaust hoods, a teaching museum, modular benches, transom-regulated ventilation, vertical service chases, and below-ground storage for fuel, ashes, and chemicals. The building set the standard for laboratory construction for the next half century. Learn more.

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS)

Columbus, Ohio

Founded in 1907 with the first publication of Chemical Abstracts, the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society, has provided generations of scientists with unparalleled access to the most comprehensive repository of research in chemistry and related sciences. For over 100 years, CAS innovations have fueled chemical research through development of the CAS Registry and CAS databases which contain invaluable information for chemical scientists. CAS continues to pursue its mission to provide access to chemical and related information that speeds and enables scientific discovery to improve people's lives. Learn more.

Chemistry at Jamestown

Colonial National Historical Park | Jamestown, Virginia

Archaeological evidence reveals early Virginia, which included both the Roanoke and Jamestown colonies, as the birthplace of the American chemical enterprise. Chemical processes first applied experimentally at Roanoke were re-introduced at Jamestown twenty years later. Collectively, the chemical investigations that began in Virginia constituted the beginning of industrial production for domestic and foreign consumption. Learn more. 

Gilman Hall

University of California, Berkeley | Berkeley, California

Gilman Hall, built between 1916 and 1917, accommodated a growing College of Chemistry of the University of California at Berkeley by providing expanded research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in physical, inorganic, and nuclear chemistry. Work performed at Gilman Hall helped advance the fields of chemical thermodynamics and molecular structure, and has resulted in multiple Nobel Prizes. Learn more.

Havemeyer Hall

Columbia University | New York City, New York

Havemeyer Hall was built between 1896 and 1898 under the leadership of Charles Frederick Chandler. It has provided research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in industrial, inorganic, organic, physical, and biological chemistry. Pioneering research done here led to several Nobel Prize awards, including Irving Langmuir’s 1932 award (the first industrial chemist to be so honored) and Harold Clayton Urey’s 1934 award for the discovery of deuterium. Learn more.

Herman Mark and the Polymer Research Institute

New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering | New York City, New York

Herman Mark arrived at Polytechnic Institute (now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering) in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940. A prominent scientist and a pioneer in the study of polymers, Mark introduced the teaching of polymer chemistry into the school curriculum, built up the program over the next few years, and by 1946 had established the Polymer Research Institute, the first academic research facility in the United States for the study of polymers. Learn more.

I. M. Kolthoff and Modern Analytical Chemistry

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Izaak Maurits Kolthoff (1894–1993) has been described as the father of modern analytical chemistry for his research and teaching that transformed the ways by which scientists separate, identify, and quantify chemical substances. Once a collection of empirical recipes and prescriptions, the field of analytical chemistry is today an essential branch of chemistry built upon solid theoretical principles and experimental techniques, the basis of which was formed over the course of Kolthoff’s nearly 80-year career. Learn more. 

John W. Draper and the Founding of the American Chemical Society

New York University | New York City, New York

In 1876 at New York University, 35 chemists formed the American Chemical Society, intending to stimulate original research, awaken and develop talent throughout the United States, provide fellowship, and ensure a better appreciation of the science by the general public. John W. Draper, the Society’s first president, was noted for his pioneering work in photography and photochemistry, as well as his writings in history and education. Now the world’s largest scientific society, ACS has international chapters and technical divisions that bring together scientists with interests ranging from small business to environmental improvement. Learn more.

Mellon Institute of Industrial Research

Carnegie Mellon University | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Prior to its merger with the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1967 to form Carnegie Mellon University, the nonprofit Mellon Institute for Industrial Research was a major, independent research corporation dedicated to promoting applied research for industry and educating scientific researchers for the benefit of society as a whole. The Institute educated hundreds of fellows for careers in industrial research and helped to sell the very idea of research to manufacturers. Numerous companies and innovations grew out of research performed at the Institute, including Visking Corp., Plaskon Co., Dow-Corning Corp., the Chemical Division of Union Carbide Corporation, and the first gas mask for use in World War I. Learn more. 

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Gaithersburg, Maryland

The federal government’s first physical science research laboratory was chartered by Congress on March 3, 1901, as the National Bureau of Standards, which became the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988. Recognizing the critical importance of chemical measures and standards, NIST established the Chemistry Division as one of its first programs. Today, the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, one of the Institute’s seven measurement and standards laboratories, offers the most comprehensive range of chemical, physical, and engineering measurement capabilities in its field. Learn more.

Noyes Laboratory

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Urbana, Illinois

Noyes Laboratory occupies a central place in the development of chemical sciences in the United States. Four departments of national and international stature—Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, and the Illinois State Water Survey—were at one time simultaneously located within its walls. Generations of scientists and engineers trained here under the leadership of renowned chemists such as William A. Noyes and Roger Adams. Chemical sciences in the United States have been immeasurably strengthened by the important and continuing interdisciplinary research conducted by Noyes Laboratory scientists. Learn more.

Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D., Pioneer Woman Chemist

University of Nebraska—Lincoln | Lincoln, Nebraska

Rachel Holloway Lloyd (1839–1900) was a pioneering woman in the field of chemistry. When she received her doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1887, Lloyd became the first American woman to earn the degree in her field. Six years earlier, she had become the first woman to publish research in a major American chemical journal. And when Lloyd joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska, she was among the earliest women to teach and conduct research at a coeducational university. Lloyd’s time at the University of Nebraska launched a period for the school as an important node for women’s education in chemistry that was unusual among its peers.  Learn more. 

Smith Memorial Collection

University of Pennsylvania | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the History of Chemistry is one of the oldest, most diverse, and most significant collections of chemistry books, manuscripts, and images in the United States. During more than 40 years at the University of Pennsylvania, Edgar Fahs Smith (1854-1928) shared his great interest in the culture and history of chemistry through teaching, lecturing, and writing. The collection remains an essential resource for historians and chemists alike. Learn more.

Universal Oil Products (UOP) Riverside Laboratory

Honeywell UOP | McCook, Illinois

The Universal Oil Products (UOP) Riverside research and development laboratory was conceived in 1921 by Hiram J. Halle, the chief executive officer of Universal Oil Products, as a focal point where the best and brightest scientists could create new products and provide scientific support for the oil refining industry. By 1921, that industry was growing rapidly as increasing numbers of automobiles led to greater demand for refined oil products. Riverside researchers focus on petroleum-related projects with commercial applications. Between 1921 and 1955, their breakthroughs resulted in nearly 9,000 patents. Learn more.

Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry

Purdue University | West Lafayette, Indiana

The R. B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry at Purdue University has served as a center for chemical education and research in the United States for more than 80 years. Wetherill Laboratory has been the site of impactful research in the field of organic chemical synthesis that has provided chemists worldwide with the tools to make complex molecules with precise structures—molecules that are used to produce a wide range of products that we use every day, from pharmaceuticals to agricultural chemicals, pheromones to and plastics, and numerous others. Learn more.

Williams-Miles History of Chemistry Collection

Harding University | Searcy, Arkansas

The Williams-Miles History of Chemistry Collection was gathered over many years by scholarly searching. Created by two good friends—Wyndam Miles, a science historian for the National Institutes of Health, and William Williams, a chemistry professor at the university—the collection emphasizes American chemical imprints. Highlights include 19th century chemistry textbooks and a 1945 account of the development of the atomic bomb. The 2,000 volumes in the collection provide a remarkably complete coverage of 19th-century chemistry. The Williams-Miles Collection is located in the Brackett Library at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Learn more.