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Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection

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Edgar Fahs Smith (1854-1928) was a professor of chemistry and a provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He built the library that forms the nucleus of the collection named in honor of him and endowed by his widow.

The Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection is devoted to the history of chemistry and collects broadly in that field, emphasizing periods prior to 1900. The collection includes early and modern works on chemistry, alchemy, early medicine and pharmacology, dyeing, metallurgy, mineralogy, and pyrotechnics; biographies of chemists; works on the chemical industry; and the history of chemical education.

First and early editions of Robert Boyle and Joseph Priestley are heavily represented in the Smith Collection, which also has more than fifty bound manuscripts from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, many of which have been digitized; lecture notes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century chemists; correspondence of important chemists; and numerous recipe books, both household and industrial.

The collection also has a large image component, some of which has been digitized and is available online. There is also some chemical laboratory equipment and a number of medals and medallions in the collection.


  • Vintage photograph of Edgar Fahs Smith
    Vintage photograph of Edgar Fahs Smith in his office in Harrison Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania

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