Edgar Fahs Smith
Born in 1854, Edgar Fahs Smith was regarded as a a pioneer in the study of the history and culture of chemistry in the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Any serious student of the history of chemistry in America will eventually seek out the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection, one of the foremost international historical collections of chemistry books and manuscripts. The core of the collection is the personal library of Edgar Fahs Smith (1854-1928), who, during his long career as professor of chemistry and later provost at the University of Pennsylvania, was a collector of chemistry books and manuscripts. Smith is rightly credited, perhaps more than any other person, as a pioneer in the study of the history and culture of chemistry in the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.
His collection of classic texts, images, and related material was stored in his office in the Harrison Laboratory. This attractive and comfortable room was filled to overflowing with antique furniture, portraits of chemists and other memorabilia, and was, in the words of a contemporary, “. . . a perfect expression of his own ideals.”
Following Smith’s death his library was given to the University of Pennsylvania with an endowment through the generosity of his widow. It reopened as the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the History of Chemistry on March 1, 1931.
The American Chemical Society designated the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the History of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania a National Historic Chemical Landmark on March 16, 2000.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about Edgar Fahs Smith and the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program