History of the Chicago Section

    Historical Overview

    The American Chemical Society is the world's larges scientific professional society, and was founded in 1876. It is organized as a federation of local sections and technical divisions, and the Chicago Section was incorporated in 1897. Today, it is one of the largest and most important local sections of the ACS.

    Read a timeline of major events in Chicago Section history here.

    Major Elements of Chicago ACS history

    The Willard Gibbs Medal

    The Chicago Section gives one of the most prestigious medals in chemistry: The Willard Gibbs Medal, founded by Chicago chemist Willaim A. Converse in 1910. Reviewing the list of Gibbs Medalists is like taking a tour of the highest achievements in modern science. Awardees receive an 8 oz. solid gold medal and deliver a prestigious lecture at their award ceremony, which attracts luminaries from national ACS leadershp, other Gibbs Medalists, and other chemists from greater Chicagoland. Given to only one person, not shared, the awardee is chosen by a jury of eminent chemists, who provide the nominations. Jurors are specially invited to participate by the Chicago Section Board of Directors. Read more here.

    The Basolo Medal and Lecture

    Northwestern University and the Chicago Section enjoy a close relationship, cemented by the Basolo Medal and Lecture, which is sponsored jointly by the two organizetions. Beloved Professor and renowned inorganic chemist Fred Basolo was Northwestern Faculty for much of his life, served as department chair for many years, and was very active in the American Chemical Society, including being its President. After his death, his family established a lecture in his name, and the awardees also receive a medal bearing Basolo's likeness. The lecture and reception constitute the Chicago Section's October meeting, refelcting Basolo's importance in the Society. Annual officer election reuslts are usually announced at the Basolo reception. Read more here.

    The Julius Stieglitz Lecture

    Prof. Julius Stieglitz was faculty at the University of Chicago for several decades, even serving as department chair for an amazing 28 years! He was very involved in ACS at both local and national levels. To honor his legacy, UChicago and Chicago ACS co-sponsore a lecture in his name. Lecturers are named annually, but they are chosen in alternating years by the Chicago Section and the Univerisity of Chicago Chemistry Department faculty. Read more here.

    The Who Is This? Project

    Since 2018, the Section Historian has been on a campaign to organize, document, annotate, and preserve the Section's archive of photos and ephermera. Read more here.

    Past Chairs of the Chicago Section

    Enjoy the list of all the Chairs of the Chicago Section here.