An Early History of Alexander Crum Brown’s Graphical Formulas

  • Christopher Ritter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 222)


Chemical structure and atomism were lively topics for chemists in the 1860s. Yet the central achievement of intercalated theoretical, laboratory, and didactic practices of chemistry in that decade was neither structure theory nor a triumph of atomism. Instead, a project that was crucial to the subsequent success of chemical structure and atomism made a large step in its ongoing development. This was the stabilization and production of chemical knowledge on the page. After 1861 the core of this project came to involve the graphical formulas of Alexander Crum Brown, which became “Frankland’s notation,” which became modern structural notation. This account of the early trajectory of Crum Brown’s graphical formulas focuses on how those formulas became paper tools.


Fumaric Acid Glycolic Acid Type Formula Structural Notation Chemical Student 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Ritter
    • 1
  1. 1.Office for History of Science and TechnologyUniversity of CaliforniaUSA

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