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American Chemical Society

Division of the History of Chemistry

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Fall 1997

Newsletter for the 214th National ACS Meeting (Fall 1997)

Those of you who were at the San Francisco meeting will, I hope, have been as impressed as I was at the breadth and scope of the Division's programs, and at the interest they engendered. For that I want to thank the Program Chair, R. Rice, and the Symposium organizers including M. J. Nye, E. R. Scerri, J. Nikelly, J. L. March, J. Hayes, and P. Perez. For me the highlights included an exceptional Dexter Award symposium with some excellent talks capped by a remarkable acceptance speech delivered by video (family health problems prevented his attendance in person) by the awardee, Professor Keith Laidler of the University of Ottawa. Professor Laidler's delightful personality came across vivdly in this video, and his personal recollections of working with H. Eyring and N. Sidgwick were fascinating. The HIST Executive Committee was so impressed by this video that we have obtained Professor Laidler's permission to distribute copies of it, at cost, to interested parties. It would make for an outstanding Local Section presentation. Details of cost and how to obtain copies will be published in a forthcoming Newsletter and in the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry.

A second highlight was the Symposium on "Chemistry and Philosophy: Are They Miscible?" organized by E. R. Scerri, which was so popular that the overflow audience for the first session spilled into the hall adjoining the meeting room. The second and later sessions were hastily rearranged into more spacious quarters. A remarkable range of papers -- and views -- was presented in the three sessions, and it is expected that many of the contributions will be published in a new journal to be edited by Dr. Scerri.

While the quantity of submissions for the Fall meeting in Las Vegas is not as large as for San Francisco, the quality remains high, and planning for Dallas in Spring 1998, and Boston in Fall 1998 is well underway. Why don't you offer a paper for one of the listed symposia, or for a general sessions, or a poster for SciMix at one of these meetings? There are other ways you can help the Division, too. Recruit some of your colleagues as members; the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry is a great bargain. Volunteer for one of our Committees: Nominations and Elections; Awards; Publications. Put forward your name as a candidate for office; later this year HIST will hold elections for Chair-Elect (for 1998; becoming Chair for 1999 and 2000!); and for Councilor for the 1998 through 2000 term. Help HIST enter the 21st. century, when the 20th. century will become a respectable subject for the history of chemistry.

Harold Goldwhite
Division Chair, 1997