From Professional Chemistry to Pre-Professional Chemist


(image from Wylie House Museum,

I am switching gears a bit from my work on the Journal of the American Chemical Society to a very interesting individual named Theophilus Wylie who was a professor of chemistry at Indiana University prior to any of the professionalization of scholarship happening in 1876 with the formation of the American Chemical Society and other similar scholarly organiztions.   I will come back to that work on journals, but one of the interesting things I discovered in that research was the fact that by the time the journal was created, chemists had already professionalized to a large degree.  I think that looking at what was happening prior to the formation of an official chemical society may be helpful to get a better idea of how professionalization within this field happened.

I hope that Theophilus Wylie can be a kind of extremely convenient case study for this early period since his archives and library  and the house where he lived are all located in Bloomington.  He also happens to be a very interesting individual in his own right.  In addition to being a professor of chemistry he was Interim President of the University at various periods and was also the first librarian of Indiana University. So he serves as an example not only of the professionalization of scholars, but also for librarians, and others in higher education at a time when universities were rapidly changing.  I hope to do much of this work over the summer, and when the new academic year comes get back to some of the work I was doing on the Journal of the American Chemical Society, particularly some of the query sampling I mentioned in my last post.


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