Döbereiner to Schönbein

  • Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner


Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner (Hof, 13 December 1780-Jena, 24 March 1849) was the son of a coachman. At the age of 14 he became assistant to an apothecary Lotz in Münchberg, then held similar posts in Dillenburg, Karlsruhe, and Strasbourg, where he met Gmelin and other scientists who helped him in his studies; he heard some lectures on chemistry, botany, and mineralogy. In 1803 he set up a small chemical factory at Gefree, then took up a cotton business; he failed in both. After other misfortunes in business he was out of employment in 1810. Several scientific publications had drawn attention to his ability, and in 1810, on Gehlen’s recommendation, he was appointed assistant professor of chemistry in Jena, although he had no doctor’s degree; this was awarded to him (D.Phil.) at half-price by the faculty, and he took up his duties. In 1816 he had a new laboratory, and in 1819 became full professor, holding this appointment until his death. He conducted practical courses in analytical chemistry (before Liebig in Giessen) and made preparations and experiments for Goethe, who had a high opinion of him.


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© J. R. Partington 1964

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  • Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner

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