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David H. Killeffer Collection of Chemical Industry Photographs

Identifier: 2004-525

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of black and white photographs of various industrial and agricultural processes, primarily dating from the 1940s and 50s. Photographs are grouped by subject, including some miscellaneous groups that consist of various plants, equipment and processes. Some topics presented are grease production, industrial chemistry as related to agriculture, plastics production, magnesium, potash, sulphur and phosphate production, kelp harvesting (for the extraction of potash) and ammonia storage applications. Included in the collection are photographs of modified transfer molds, extrusion presses, ammonia applicators, chemical plants, photograms of chemistry equipment, pilot plant production of food, spectrometers and ammonia storage spheres. Many of the chemical companies involved in these practices are represented such as Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Squibb, Pfizer, Merck, Standard Oil, General Electric and others. Plant and mining locations are depicted in Nevada, Georgia, California, Nebraska, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and India. The collection also contains images of flow sheets, equipment, laboratory research and a portrait and magazine cover featuring John William Turrentine, President of the American Potash Institute. Most of the photographs in the collection were compiled by David Killeffer for use in his publications. Descriptions of photographs are often included on the back, frequently with a news release from the company that provided the materials. The collection includes copies of some of Killeffer’s articles in which the photographs originally appeared; additional articles can be found in the Records of Chemist’s Club at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Notably, the collection does not include any photographs of David Killeffer and copyright ownership for many of the photographs is unclear, particularly in the case of photographs related to corporations.


  • Creation: 1935-1962
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940s-1950s


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Copyright Information

To obtain reproductions and copyright information, contact:

Background Note

David Herbert Killeffer was born on December 22, 1895 in Columbia, Tennessee and received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of North Carolina in 1915. While recuperating from a severe case of poisoning that developed from working at a chemical plant, Killeffer began a career as a chemical journalist, particularly focused on the history and practice of industrial chemistry. Over the course of his career, Killeffer wrote over fifty books and hundreds of articles and became an advocate for the American chemical industry. Killeffer also served as the technical director of Dry Ice Corp. from 1928-1931, where he earned fourteen patents. In 1957, Killeffer was the first recipient of the James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, presented by the American Chemical Society. He also received the Civic Service Award of the Florida Section of the American Chemical Society in 1965. David H. Killeffer died in 1970.


277 Photographic Prints (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Photographs pertaining to various aspects of industrial chemistry collected by science journalist David H. Killeffer for use in his publications.

Custodial History

Gift of Mrs. Dorothy S. Killeffer to the Chemists' Club Library, which came into CHF as a larger collection.

Acquisition Information

Accessioned with the Records of the Chemists' Club.

Related Materials

See also the Records of the Chemist's Club, 1896-1997, at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia PA.

See also the Minutes of meetings of the American Chemical Society New York Section, 1892-1942, at the Science History Institute, Philadelphia PA.

Condition Description

Material is in good condition.

Processing Information

Processed by Laura Turner in 2004. Object identification numbers were assigned to individual photographs.

David H. Killeffer Collection of Chemical Industry Photographs
Finding aid created by Lisa Kruczek and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear (2017) and Alex Asal (2023).
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)