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William H. Brock Papers


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

William H. Brock (1936-) is a British chemist and science historian. Born in Brighton, England on December 15, 1936, Brock earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University College London (1959), then entered graduate school at the University of Leicester. In 1959, he took a graduate course in the history and philosophy of science and became a lecturer on the subject a year later. Brock completed his graduate education at Leicester, earning his in M.S. (1961) and Ph.D. (1966).

After earning his Ph.D., Brock joined the faculty of the University of Leicester's Department of History, where he went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a science historian, eventually rising to the rank of Professor of the History of Science. At Leicester, his research focused on four principal areas: the history of chemistry, the social history of Victorian science and mathematics, the development of science education, and the development of scientific periodicals. In addition to his research and teaching duties, Brock developed an interdisciplinary graduate studies program in Victorian Studies at Leicester during the 1960s. From 1966 to 1990, he served as Director of Leicester's Victorian Studies Center. Brock retired from Leicester as Emeritus Professor of the History of Science in 1998 and continued to write after leaving the university.

William H. Brock was the author of over one hundred scholarly papers and twelve books, including Liebig and Hoffman in Ihren Briefen, 1841-1873 (1984), The Norton History of Chemistry (1992), and Justus von Liebig: The Chemical Gatekeeper (1998). He was an active member of several professional organizations, including the Society for History of Alchemy and Chemistry and the British Society for the History of Science. Brock was also the recipient of several awards, including the American Chemical Society's Dexter Award (1995) and the Medical Sciences Historical Society's Justus von Liebig Medal (1997).


"William H. Brock (1936-)," Division of History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, Microsoft Word - Brock Dexter Bio JJB.doc (

William H. Brock Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Arranged alphabetically by subject, the William H. Brock Papers contain the personal and professional correspondence of British chemist and science historian William H. Brock. The collection consists of files containing Brock's correspondence with the following five science historians:

  1. Otto T. Benfey
  2. James J. Bohning
  3. Sidney M. Edelstein
  4. Arnold W. Thackray
  5. John H. Wotiz

Brock's correspondence with John H. Wotiz, consisting of three files, makes up the largest component the William H. Brock Papers. These files contain some correspondence regarding Wotiz's interest in German chemist August Kekule and provide a limited amount of documentation regarding Wotiz's book The Kekule Riddle: A Challenge for Chemists and Psychologists and the organization of the American Chemical Society Symposium "The Kekule Benzol Fest, 100 Years Later." Also of interest is a single file of Brock's correspondence with Arnold W. Thackray, which includes correspondence regarding Brock and Thackray's involvement in organizing the 17th International Congress of History of Science in Berkeley, California. Single files containing Brock's correspondence with Otto T. Benfey, James J. Bohning, and Sidney M. Edelstein are also present here.

Correspondence makes up the bulk of the materials in the William H. Brock Papers. Small amounts of other accompanying materials, including, but not limited to, newsletters, symposium paper abstracts, reviewer comments, a book chapter manuscript, and an obituary are preserved in these papers as well.

The William H. Brock Papers were donated to the Science History Institute by William H. Brock in September 2021.

The William H. Brock Papers were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in January 2022.

Science History Institute Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid created 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 William H. Brock Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Collection Inventory

Benfey, Otto T. - Correspondence and Talk Manuscript, 1980-1999 .
Box 1 Folder 1
Bohning, James J. - Correspondence, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 2
Edelstein, Sidney M. - Obituary, 1994.
Box 1 Folder 3
Thackray, Arnold W. - Correspondence, Programs, and Statutes, 1963-2009.
Box 1 Folder 4
Wotiz, John H. - 1983 History of Chemistry Tour - Correspondence, Travel Itinerary, Biographical Sketch, and Certificate of Appreciation, 1982-1983.
Box 1 Folder 5
Wotiz, John H. - Kekule Book (The Kekule Riddle: A Challenge for Chemists and Psychologists) - Correspondence, Review Comments, Newsletter, and Book Chapter Manuscript, 1989-1993.
Box 1 Folder 6
Wotiz, John H. - Kekule Symposium ("The Kekule Benzol Fest, 100 Years Later") - Correspondence, Newsletters, Abstracts, Agendas, and Program), 1987-1990.
Box 1 Folder 7

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