Working Party on History of Chemistry


International Symposium «Celebrating D.I. Mendeleev’s Periodic System. A Historical Perspective»

Satellite symposium to XXI Mendeleev Congress, 10-13 September 2019, Saint Petersburg State University.

The XXI Mendeleev Congress is held under the auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The symposium is supported by the EuChemS – Working Party on the History of Chemistry, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, the Mendeleev Russian Chemical Society, the St. Petersburg State University and the Russian Chemists Union.

The satellite symposium will be held on the Saint Petersburg State University campus on Vasilievsky Island, while the other venues of the Mendeleev Congress will include the Saint Petersburg Mining University (also known as Gorny) and conference rooms at the Park Inn by Radisson Pribaltiyskaya St Petersburg.

The Mendeleev Congress traditionally maintains an interdisciplinary program and in the frame of the International Year of the Periodic Table, it is only fitting to have a satellite symposium celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the D. I Mendeleev’s Periodic System (PS) of the elements. This innovative and ground breaking new way of classification of the elements created the iconic Periodic Table (PT) which under different forms and presentations is still in use in every classroom around the world.

But how did this idea emerge and take form? What is the historical context of the discovery of PS? Who were the chemists involved, besides D.I. Mendeleev? How were the ideas and concepts discussed, criticized or appropriated? How did the core ideas of PS and PT develop through the 150 years that separates us from the initial publications? And how is this universal device used and accommodated for teaching, and research? How did it work in classrooms and textbooks, or appear in more popular culture as an icon of chemistry and science?

The Symposium “Celebrating D.I. Mendeleev’s Periodic System. A Historical Perspective” will gather scholars to tackle these questions pertaining to the historical emergence, development and use of the PS, and the most powerful scientific icon, the PT. While there are still much debates and ongoing discussion about the nature of the PS, the best arrangement of the elements, and the underlying laws that govern such the periodic classification, this symposium will specifically hold a historical perspective. Beyond the story of discovery, and its context, it will also examine the response and the appropriation processes that explain the longevity of this classification across time, space and culture. In particular, this symposium aims at providing space for less discussed topics such as the use of PT in textbooks and the pedagogical context, the presence of the PT in popular culture, and the role of women scientist in the development of the PS/PT.

The main topics of the Symposium include the following non-exhaustive sub-themes for contributors of individual papers, and posters:

–        D.I. Mendeleev and the scientific environment at the time of the emergence of the PS;

–        Mendeleev’s PS, other systems and tables of chemical classifications in their historical context: forerunners, early controversies and priorities around the PS and the PT

–        Appropriation and circulation of the PS and the PT: responses, accommodations with new scientific discoveries and theories

–        The PS/PT and the teaching and popularisation of chemistry in a historical perspective: pedagogical context of the formulation and early use of the PS/PT, role of textbooks in the use and development of PS/PT, the PT as a popular icon

–        Women scientists and their role in the development of the PS/PT


In addition to the scientific program, the congress will include social events.

Key-Note Speakers:

Prof. Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, France

Mendeleev’s notion of chemical element: a key actor in the construction of the periodic table

Prof. Helge Kragh, Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark

Astrochemistry, New Elements, and Mendeleev’s Periodic Table

Prof. David E. Lewis, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA

Mendeleev, Markovnikov and the Zhurnal Russkago Khimicheskago Obshchestva: Celebrating Three Sesquicentennials

Prof. Martyn Poliakoff, University of Nottingham, England

Mendeleev’s gift to Education

Registration and conference fees:

The participants to the satellite meeting should register at the Mendeleev Congress.

Please note that you need to be registered to submit an abstract.

Registration fees for the Mendeleev Congress. The conference fees for the satellite symposium are 250 euros.

In case of problems with the registration or payment, contact Yulia Gorbunova ( or Elena Baum-Zaitseva (


Abstract submission:

The final deadline for all individual paper proposals is 15th March 2019. Selected papers will appear as oral communications (20 minutes each) or posters.

All abstracts must be submitted through the Personal Account. To upload an abstract, participants are asked firstly to register on-line and to create their Personal Account. After registering, you may submit an abstract. All proposals (abstracts) must be in English.

Abstracts should be prepared following a template that is to be found on the website; please consult the guidelines at the Mendeleev Congress website


Contact address:

Secretary of the symposium: Dr. Elena Baum-Zaitseva

Symposium website:


12th International Conference in History of Chemistry

The 12ICHC will take place in Maastricht, the Netherlands from 29 July till 2 August, 2019.


The Conference will be hosted by Maastricht University (UM), a young university, founded in 1976, with a very international student population, and a strong research group in Science, Technology and Society (STS), including the history of science and technology. The conference will be sponsored by UM, the Royal Dutch Chemical Society and several other organizations.

The conference programme will include scientific sessions, key-note lectures, the WP business meeting, as well as social events such as excursions, receptions, and a conference dinner banquet. Key-note lectures will be given by Marco Beretta (Bologna University), Carsten Reinhardt (Bielefeld University) and Lissa Roberts (Twente University).

The Steering Organizing Committee encourages the submission of panel/session proposals, but also welcomes the submission of stand-alone papers. Session organizers and contributors are free to send their proposals on any topic on the history of chemistry, broadly constructed as the cluster of molecular sciences, industry, and technology. A non-exhaustive list of possible sessions could include historical papers on the development of all aspects of material and life sciences, such as:


– Chemistry, professors, textbooks and classrooms

– Teaching and didactics of history of chemistry

– Chemistry and law: controversies, expertise, counter-expertise, fraud and activism

– Environmental chemistry, energy and regulation

– Chemical industry, its transition towards a circular economy

– Spaces and sites of chemistry

– (Post)colonial perspectives on chemistry

– Chemistry and its businesses in a globalizing world

– Commodities and commodification

– Modern chemistry and physics of semiconductors and nano-materials

– Chemistry and digital humanities; editions of manuscripts, etc.

– Instruments, collections and material culture

– Replication of historical experiments

– Periodic Table (2019 = International Year of the Periodic Table)

– Biographies, prosopographies, and databases

– Chemistry, war and exile

– Representation of chemistry, and visual cultures

– Chemistry in the age of the Anthropocene

– Early modern art and chemistry

– Alchemy, Chemistry and Early Modern Science and Medicine

– Gender and chemistry


The Steering Organizing Committee consists of Christoph Meinel, Universität Regensburg, and Ignacio Suay-Matallana, Universidad Miguel Hernández (chairs of the committee), Cyrus Mody, Maastricht University (Steering Organizing Committee), Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Science History Institute (chair of the WPHC), and Ernst Homburg, Maastricht University (chair of the Local Organizing Committee).


Important Dates:

Deadline for submitting proposals (both panels and individual papers): 31 January 2019.

Notification of acceptance: 15 March 2019.

Early bird registration: by 15 May 2019.

Conference dates: 29 July – 2 August 2019.


Proposal guidelines:

All proposals must be in English, the language of the conference. Submitted abstracts and session proposals will be subject to review by an international Advisory Committee. The conference is open to individual paper submissions, but preference will be given to organized sessions. The sessions should include about 3-5 papers, and no more than one session can be proposed by the same organizer. All paper proposals must use the templates provided on the conference web site. All proposals should be submitted by email (by 31 January 2019) to:

For more information about session or paper submission, deadlines and practical arrangements can soon be found on:

Contact information for practical questions:


News from the German Chemical Society

The History Group of the German Chemical Society is proud to announce that its journal “Mitteilungen” is now online and openly accessible. The content of all back issues from 1 (1988) to 24 (2014) is available from the Group’s homepage. Permanent electronic versions of the journal are hosted by the German National Library and linked in the Electronic Journals Library.

In this way the GDCh History of Chemistry Group hopes to improve its service, and to strenghten its ties, to the international community of historians of chemistry. The majority of articles in the “Mitteilungen” is of course in German, but it goes without saying that contributions submitted in English will also be considered for publication.

Christoph Meinel
Managing Editor

Obituary Masanori Kaji (1956-2016)

In July 2016, Prof. Masanori Kaji, a treasured member of our community, passed away – at the age of 60. Kaji and his contributions to the historical scholarship of chemistry shall long be remembered by scholars worldwide.

Personal account by his colleague and friend Gabor Pallo.