Brain Pickings

How Chemistry Works: Gorgeous Vintage Science Diagrams, 1854

by

Illustrated retro reactions from the father of Popular Science.

Edward Livingston Youmans (1821-1887), best-remembered as the founder of Popular Science magazine, was one of history’s greatest science writers and editors. Besides pioneering what Richard Feynman has termed “the role of scientific culture in modern society” with his journalistic endeavors, Youmans also authored a number of beautifully illustrated textbooks, including Chemical Atlas: Or, The Chemistry of Familiar Objects. Originally published in 1854, the book is in the public domain but is sadly long out of print. A digital version is available in multiple formats from The Internet Archive, and it has been reproduced in hard-copy, alas without the artwork. Many of the individual illustrations are available as prints. (Click each image for the poster version.)

Youmans writes in the introduction:

Every experienced teacher understands the necessity of making the acquisition of the elementary and foundation principles upon which a science rests, the first business of study. If these are thoroughly mastered, subsequent progress is easy and certain.

Complement with some gorgeous vintage science ads, anatomical illustrations, and science infographics.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

Share on Tumblr