The American Chemical Society Celebrates 140 Years of Chemistry

The American Chemical Society Celebrates 140 Years of Advancing Chemistry

On April 6, 1876, a group of 35 chemists founded the American Chemical Society in New York City.

According to Charles F. Chandler, one of the co-founders, the new society would “prove a powerful and healthy stimulus to original research …, would awaken and develop much talent now wasting in isolation …, [bring] members of the association into closer union, and ensure a better appreciation of our science and its students on the part of the general public.”

Then as now, ACS was committed to connecting chemical scientists with each other and with the latest scientific information. The Society began publishing its flagship journal, the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), in April 1879. Abstracts, which had appeared in JACS since 1897, were given their own publication, Chemical Abstracts in January 1907, which became CAS in 1956. ACS organized its first national meeting in Newport, Rhode Island in August 1890.

During the April 6, 1876 meeting, one of the founding members said, “Let us begin this society small, let it do its work well, and it will undoubtedly grow.”

From those 35 chemists in New York City, the American Chemical Society has grown indeed. As we celebrate our 140th anniversary, ACS is home to nearly 157,000 chemists, chemical engineers, and related scientists in more than 140 countries around the globe. ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information.

Early American Chemical Society History Factoids

  • ACS was formed 6 April 1876 in New York. It was inspired by a meeting of chemists celebrating the centennial of Joseph Priestley’s discovery of oxygen in 1874.
  • John Draper was the first ACS President; he was an internationally known photochemist
  • Draper produced the first clear photographic portrait and photo of the moon; he was instrumental in introducing photography to scientific investigations.
  • Although Draper was the first president of ACS, Charles Chandler is known as the father of ACS; he served as President two times, in 1881 and 1889.
  • 35 New York City chemists attended the first meeting of ACS; today ACS has nearly 157,000 members around the world.
  • From the 1876 ACS constitution: “The objects of this Society shall be the encouragement and advancement of chemistry in all its branches”
Priestly Centenary Meeting (1874)

Priestly Centenary Meeting (1874)

Professor Charles F. Chandler, co-founder of American Chemical Society

Professor Charles F. Chandler, co-founder of ACS


Draper photo of Moon

Draper photo of Moon

John W. Draper, first American Chemical Society President

John W. Draper, first ACS President



Want more stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Sign up for our newsletter to receive a selection of stories related to your favorite topics.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.