Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry garner Chemical Landmark designation

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2022 — One of the world’s largest curated collections of scientific artifacts, books, journals, photos and prints related to the history of chemistry is being honored with the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) National Historic Chemical Landmark designation. The dedication ceremony will be held on March 15 at the University of Cincinnati.

“The collections bear testimony to our field’s rich heritage and its central importance in society,” says Angela K. Wilson, Ph.D., president of ACS. “They show how chemistry has touched everyday life for centuries.”

The collections, which date from the 16th through 21st centuries, are available to view and study at the University of Cincinnati in the department of chemistry. Founded in 1986 by Professor William B. Jensen, with an endowment from Professor Ralph E. Oesper, they include 4,000 scientific artifacts, 28,000 books and journals, and 2,500 photos and prints. The collections are a joint undertaking of the chemistry department and the university’s library system.

As part of the landmark celebration, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval issued a proclamation designating the week of March 14 as “Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry Week.” Additionally, two members of Congress and a U.S. senator sent letters of congratulations to the university.

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to society. Past landmarks include the discovery and production of penicillin, the invention of synthetic plastics and the works of such notable scientific figures as educator George Washington Carver and environmentalist Rachel Carson. For more information, visit

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Reproduction of an 18th century retort used to separate and purify liquids
The collections include historic chemical artifacts such as this reproduction of an 18th century retort used to separate and purify liquids.
Courtesy of the Oesper Collections, University of Cincinnati