Who Discovered Chemical Elements


This is an alternate entrance to the discovery of the chemical elements and the origins of their names.  What follows was not written especially for women, but simply to accurately describe the history.  Despite an age that demanded that women remain in the home tending the nursery and maintaining the family, women managed to discover six of the chemical elements and contribute to the naming of many more.  The stories describing their persistence and drive despite adversities provide role models, not just for women, but for us all.

This project originated in 1990 when the author read an article by Vivi Ringnes (a woman chemist at the University of Oslo) about the origins of the element names.  The author of this site, speculating that the computer might provide an alternate way to present that history, used HyperStudio® to create a series of hypermedia stacks on and for the Apple IIgs computer platform.  The following web pages are a translation of those stacks to HTML, an effort which was launched on the last day of the old millennium, 2000.  (Some people celebrate such events differently!)  The information has been updated to include recently discovered elements and greatly expanded to include information about the discoveries and the people responsible.

While the author believes it paramount to preserve historical accuracy, there is a risk in condensing history that unintentional errors occur.  If any error is found, please use the e-mail link found at the bottom of every screen to propose a correction.

dot   Lisa Meitner: discoverer of Protactinium and nuclear fission but little recognized for either.

dot   Marie Curie: discoverer of Radium and Polonium in the most primitive of facilities.

dot   Ida Tacke: discoverer of Rhenium and Masurium, the later discovery still discounted!

dot   Marguerite Perey: discovered the radioactive alkalie Francium in Paris in the troubled year of 1939.

dot   Marie Lavoisier: partner to Antoine, the father of Chemistry at a time when even acknowledgement of a woman's assistance was verboten.  While Lavoisier did not himself discover any element, based on his new chemistry he recognized as elements several not formerly view as such.

dot   Mileva Marić: first wife and partner with Albert Einstein.  While the Einsteins did not discover any elements, element #99 was named after Albert Einstein, and in retrospect should probably honor Mileva's contributions too.

Primary Information Sources:

NSTAs SciLink
Selected by the SciLinks program,
a service of National Science Teachers Association.
Copyright 1999-2002.
dot  To proceed select a woman named above,
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element below,
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catagories for naming.

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created 28 December 2001
latest revision 16 June 2007
by D Trapp
Mac made