Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry supports a dynamic community of researchers interested in the history and social studies of science. It is also home to associated scholarly events and activities, including an annual conference, a public lecture series, writing workshops, a book series, and a network of over 250 alumni.


The Beckman Center offers several fellowships for scholars doing research in the history and social studies of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries using the Institute’s collections. Our fellows are encouraged to collaborate with Institute staff and to interact with the robust community of historians of science across Philadelphia. Fellows also participate in an internal talk series and writing group, which provide a critical but collegial setting in which to develop works in progress.

Learn more about the research of our current cohort of fellows.

Talks, Conferences, and Lectures

The Beckman Center sponsors a series of public Lunchtime Lectures on Tuesdays during the spring and fall terms. At these lectures the Institute fellows, travel grantees, staff, and other area scholars share ongoing research on topics relating to the history of science and contemporary issues in science studies.

The Beckman Center also hosts evening lectures each year, including two Fellow in Focus lectures (one in the fall and one in the spring), and annual conferences and symposia.

Synthesis Book Series

Synthesis, a series of books developed by the Science History Institute and published by the University of Chicago Press, seeks to shed light on the history of chemistry, broadly construed, and its diverse roles in society. Topics covered in the series, now in its third year, have been varied, ranging from alchemical secrets to the intersections of business and biotechnology. Contributors include top scholars in the history of science and a number of past recipients of Beckman Center fellowships.


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