Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry

The Oesper Collections represent one of the world’s largest curated collections of scientific artifacts, books, journals, photos, and prints related to the history of chemistry. These resources bring the field’s rich historical heritage to life. At the same time, they reveal the importance of chemistry in society and show how this central science touches everyday life. And they demonstrate that embracing the past is essential to understanding the foundations of chemistry, as well as its present and future.

The holdings — which date from the 16th through the 21st centuries — are available to view and study at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Chemistry. Chemists, students, historians, and the public will find a wide range of attractions within the Oesper Collections. Some visitors will be drawn by rare and ancient leather-bound books, such as “Elemens de Chymie,” French for “Elements of Chemistry,” which was published in 1624 — just a few years after the death of William Shakespeare. Others will be attracted by equipment including a reproduction of an 18th century retort used to separate and purify liquids, a device from around 1915 to monitor the fermentation of beer, a folding pocket camera from 1902, and an electron microscope from the 1960s.

The Oesper Collections are located in 520 Rieveschl Hall and are open to the public by appointment. Please contact the department at 513-556-9200.