The American Chemical Society

US #1002 was issued for the ACS’s 75th anniversary and pictures their emblem along with several instruments related to chemical work.

On April 6, 1876, the American Chemical Society was founded in New York City.

Prior to that, there were other American scientific societies, namely the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which was founded in 1848. However, there wasn’t an organization devoted solely to chemistry, which was a fast-growing science. Chemistry is the scientific study of substances, how they behave and change under different conditions, and how they interact.

US #1002 – Plate Block First Day Cover.

In 1874, several American chemists met at the home of Joseph Priestley to mark the 100th anniversary of his discovery of oxygen. The chemists that attended that event began discussing the idea of creating a new society that would focus on theoretical and applied chemistry.

US #1002 – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover.

After two years of planning, 35 chemists met at the University of the City of New York (today’s New York University). On April 6, 1876, they officially established America’s first chemical society – the American Chemical Society (ACS). At that first meeting, a constitution was adopted, officers were selected, and well-known scientist of the time John William Draper was selected as the first president.

US #1685 was issued for the society’s 100th anniversary.

One of the founders, Professor Charles F. Chandler of the Columbia School of Mines, said the society would “prove a powerful and healthy stimulus to original research,… would awaken and develop much talent now wasting in isolation,… 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.”

US #1685 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

The goal of the ACS was to share chemical knowledge with the public and improve the industry’s benefits to mankind and the Earth. Within a year, they obtained a state charter and only a few years later, distributed the first ACS scientific journal.

US #1685 – Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

Now headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Chemical Society’s agenda is multifold. Its purposes are to advance science, advocate for innovation, enable career development, educate the public, support the future of the chemical industry and chemists, and to promote diversity in the field.

US #1685 – Classic First Day Cover.

Today, this nonprofit organization is the largest scientific society in the world with over 158,000 members. The ACS continues its mission with various publications and more than 30 different technical divisions dedicated to different aspects of chemistry. The society’s best-known publications include the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Abstracts, and Chemical and Engineering News.

Click here to visit the ACS website.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.


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  1. Excellent summary of this organizations history and focus. This month, I am celebrating 50 years as a member of ACS, so I know first hand the importance of the organization to our profession. Thanks for highlighting ACS today in history!

  2. Growing up in New Zealand I was fascinated by Chemistry. Looking back now this was probably due to an excellent teacher in High School who related what was being studied to what students experienced in the real world. This all lead me to a Chemical Engineering degree and a 30 plus year career in the Petroleum and Petrochemical industries, and travel to over 50 countries. Through my daughters and their friends and other friends, I have seen how so many of today’s students have zero enthusiasm for Chemistry or other sciences for that matter (pun intended :-)). Are we teaching the wrong subject matter? Are we making Chemistry unrelatable? Not only has Chemistry given me a wonderful career, it has changed the way I look at things in Nature, and in Life!! Thanks for the ACS review.

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