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Othmer Library

The Othmer Library is open to researchers by appointment only.

  • Library research appointments are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Appointments must be made and confirmed 24 hours in advance.
  • Reference requests, research assistance, and copy services are available. Since many researchers are still affected by travel restrictions, we may waive fees for reasonable requests.

PLEASE NOTE: Othmer Library patrons are required to show proof of vaccination and booster for COVID-19. Please read our COVID Vaccination Policy (PDF) for details.

The Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History is an independent research library encompassing the history of chemistry and related sciences and industries.

The Othmer Library was founded in 1988 when Donald and Mildred Topp Othmer announced their challenge grant to be given for the creation of a library that would work to preserve the history of the chemical sciences. The library now houses more than 140,000 print volumes, rare books and manuscripts, archival materials, and historical photographs. Together these collections—spanning nearly six miles of shelves—form an unrivaled resource for the history of chemistry and related sciences, technologies, and industries.

Located in Philadelphia, the library is open to researchers by appointment. Search our catalog below and schedule a visit.

Search Midon, the Othmer Library Catalog


Rare Books

  • The nucleus of our 7,000-book collection comes from The Chemists’ Club Library of New York and the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library.
  • Highlights of the collection include landmark works on the history of chemistry, works on the early chemical industry and commerce, and a set of ten 15th-century alchemical manuscript volumes and miniatures.
  • Related subjects represented in the collection comprise mining and metallurgy, assaying, gunnery, pyrotechnics, books of secrets, medicine, pharmacy, physics, and botany.


  • Our collection encompasses 6,200 linear feet and consists of the papers of individuals, professional groups, and companies in various scientific fields; over 25,000 photographs that provide visual documentation of chemists, laboratories, and instrumentation; and ephemera connected to chemistry and related industries.
  • Highlights of the collection include our Nobel Laureate Archive and the corporate records of such chemical industry giants as Dow Chemical and Rohm and Haas.

Modern Monographs and Journals

  • Our collection is built through a combination of ongoing acquisitions and donations from individuals and groups.
  • Materials are available in print, microform, audiovisual, and/or electronic formats.
  • Topics covered in the collection range from general chemistry fields to specific subjects, such as brewing, cosmetics, dyes, plastics, soaps, and textiles.