Creating Networks in Chemistry: The Founding and Early History of Chemical Societies in Europe
Chapter 14: SWEDEN: The Chemical Society in Sweden: Eclecticism in Chemistry, 1883–1914
Published:10 Apr 2008
Anders Lundgren, 2008. "SWEDEN: The Chemical Society in Sweden: Eclecticism in Chemistry, 1883–1914", Creating Networks in Chemistry: The Founding and Early History of Chemical Societies in Europe, Anita Kildebæk Nielsen, Sona Strbanova
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An organization for chemists in Sweden, Kemistsamfundet (The Chemical Society) (henceforth Samfundet) was founded in December 1883. Founders were chemical engineers with the assistance of some industrialists. Chemists connected to the universities or other scientific institutions were slow to join, but after a couple of decades the majority of the members had an academic background. I have earlier described this development as a smooth emergence between academia and industry.1 These two groups can of course not be exactly defined, the line between them is more than obscure, but I am vaguely referring to one group working within the chemical industry and another group doing chemistry in an academic environment. It became meaningful to use these groups as ideal types in order to analyse the history of Samfundet. One of the most notable differences would be that an engineer rarely had an advanced formal education. Some had studied at the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (Royal Institute of Technology, henceforth KTH), where the most advanced technical education was given in Sweden, but many had only secondary technical school qualifications, and some of them were even self-made men. On the other hand the academic chemists rarely had any experience from chemical industry, but played the role of civil servants, doing research and teaching for higher aims than practical applications.2 The search for the idealistic truth and nothing else was declared the main object for science, and a goal often referred to – and in chemistry truth was to be discovered through analysis.3 This was neither a chemistry which interested the chemical industry, nor a chemistry which made the chemists interested in chemical industry. Chemical industry was mostly based on the control of organic reactions, which chemical theories could not treat in a way that was useful for engineers.