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Science History Institute/Conrad Erb

The Science History Institute’s Image Archives, part of the Othmer Library of Chemical History, contains an extensive collection of photographic prints, negatives, slides, and advertisements reflecting the chemical history of the last century.

Highlights from the photograph collection include the Williams Haynes Portrait Collection of nearly 1,000 formal portraits of important chemists from the early 1900s; the Travis Hignett Collection of images from the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory (1920–1950); the Joseph Labovsky Collection, which supplies an illustrative narrative of the history of nylon; and the Dow Historical Collection, which chronicles the facilities, operations, and products of one of the world’s most prominent chemical companies. 

In addition, informal snapshots and personal photos capture notable scientists at work and at play, such as the polymer chemists Wallace Carothers and Carl Marvel on a fishing trip and chemical engineer Donald Othmer and his wife on their wedding day.

For additional information about the photograph collection, research assistance, and general questions, contact

Accessing Our Photograph Collection

Search or browse our growing collection of digitized photographs.


A small portion of the photographic holdings is also available in our online catalog, Midon, but most items are available for research at the library. The genre terms “photographs” and “photograph collections” will locate photographic materials in the online catalog. These terms can be used in conjunction with keywords in other search fields. In addition, a significant portion of materials are discoverable through our collections management database, which is available to researchers on-site with the assistance of the curator of photographic and moving image collections. To access this service, please schedule a visit

Rights and Reproductions

Digital reproductions of photographs, archival materials, and other items from the Institute’s collections are available through our Collections staff. For more information on obtaining digital reproductions, click here.

Collection Highlights

Browse the slideshow for curated higlights from our photograph collection.

Wilson College chemistry club, ca. 1937
Science History Institute
George Garcelon with portable Beckman pH meter, 1951
Science History Institute
L. A. Pinck at the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory, 1926
Science History Institute
Saran bubble at Dow manufacturing plant, ca. 1980s
Science History Institute
Yarn inspection at DuPont, ca. 1938
Science History Institute
Female worker at Radford Ordnance Works, ca. 1940
Science History Institute