Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Otto Theodor ("Ted") Benfey was a German chemist and historian of science. Born in Berlin, Germany on October 31, 1925, Benfey was sent to England by his family in 1936 to escape persecution by the Nazis. He received his B.S. degree in Chemistry (1945) and his Ph.D. in Chemistry (1947) from the University College London. After receiving his Ph.D., he studied at Columbia University as a postdoctoral research fellow (1947-1948).
Benfey began his teaching career at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania (1948-1956), where he rose to the rank of associate professor of chemistry. In 1955-1956, he held a research fellowship at Harvard University. From 1956 through 1973, Benfey taught chemistry and the history of science at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. In 1973, he became the Dana Professor of the History of Science at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. He retired from Guilford as emeritus professor in 1988.
In his retirement, Benfey held an editorial position at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now called the Science History Institute) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1989-1996). During this period, he also taught at the University of Pennsylvania as an adjunct professor of history and sociology of science.
Benfey was the recipient of several awards over the course of his career, including the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Award (1970-1971) and the American Chemical Society's HIST Award for Outstanding Achievement in the History of Chemistry (2019). He also travelled widely and was the author and editor of several books in his field, including Classics in the Theory of Chemical Combination (1963).
O. Theodor Benfey Oral History, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Otto Theodor Benfey Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"Ted Benfey Received HIST Award", C&EN, June 7, 2019 - https://cen.acs.org/acs-news/programs/Ted-Benfey-receives-HIST-Award/97/i23
The Otto Theodor Benfey Papers contain the notebooks and research files of German chemist and historian of science Otto Theodor Benfey. It contains materials from Benfey's careers as a student and chemist, as well as his working files from his later career as a historian of science. The collection is arranged into the following three series:
- Notebooks of O. T. Benfey
- Work on Mercury and Mercury Poisoning
- Research Files
The Otto Theodor Benfey Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Otto Theodor Benfey in two accretions in October 2002.
The Otto Theodor Benfey Papers were processed by Andrew Mangravite in November 2017.
- Science History Institute Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid created by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.
- Use Restrictions
The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Otto Theodor Benfey Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.
Arranged in its original order, this series contains notebooks kept by Otto Theodor Benfey. Four of the notebooks were kept by Benfey as a student at the University College London. Two notebooks kept by Benfey as a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University are also found in this series. Two notebooks kept by Benfey as a research fellow at Harvard University are also preserved in this series. Three sheaves of notebook pages detailing a course in "Chemical Physics" taught at Cornell University by Nobel laureate Peter Debye are present here as well.
Arranged in their original order, this series consists of three files concerning Otto Theodor Benfey's research work on mercury and mercury poisoning, which he kept during his career as a chemist.
This series contains Otto Theodor Benfey's research files, which he kept during his career as a historian of science. The contents of the Research Files are arranged into the following two sub-series:
- Dictionary of Scientific Biography Files
- Classics in the Theory of Chemical Combination Files
Otto Theodor Benfey wrote biographies of Lothar Meyer, Johannes Thiele, and Edward W. Washburn for the Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Arranged in its original order, this sub-series contains Benfey's research files for these articles.
See also Box 3 Folder 6-10.
Otto Theodor Benfey was the editor of Classics in the Theory of Chemical Combination, a collection of papers written by several prominent chemists of the nineteenth century. Published in 1963, the book included classic papers by Friedrich Wohler, Dmitri Mendeleev, Alexander Butlerov, Louis Pasteur, and Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff.
Arranged in its original order, this sub-series contains Benfey's research files for Classics in the Theory of Chemical Combination. The contents of the files consist of copies of the original papers used in the book.