- Jöns Jakob Berzelius proposes a system of chemical symbols in which elements are represented by the first letters of their names. Compounds are represented by these letters with superscripts indicating combining weights, which in turn suggest the number of atoms combining.
- Thomas Thomson begins an annual retrospective review of chemical literature in his Annals of Philosophy, a practice later adopted by other editors like Berzelius.
- Leopold Gmelin publishes first edition of his Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie.
- The Pharmacopoeia of the United States is published, establishing standard English and Latin names for drugs.
- In Germany Pharmaceutisches Centralblatt is issued as the first chemistry-related abstracts journal. Becomes Chemisches-Pharmaceutisches Centralblatt in 1850 and Chemisches Zentralblatt in 1856. The Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft assumes responsibility for publication in 1897.
- Justus Liebig acquires Annalen der Pharmacie. Name later changes to Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie and, most recently, to European Journal of Organic Chemistry.
- The Chemical Society of London is established.
- Quarterly Journal of the Chemical Society of London (later, Journal of the Chemical Society) is first published. In 1871 it begins including abstracts of the chemical literature.
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is founded. It includes a section devoted to chemistry.
- The Société Chimique de Paris is established. Begins publication of Bulletin as well as Répertoire de chimie pure and Répertoire de chimie appliquée, which include abstracts.
- In a published outline of a chemistry course, Stanislao Cannizzaro clarifies the calculation of atomic weights, then a highly contentious subject, using, in part, the long-neglected hypothesis put forward by Amedeo Avagadro in 1811.
- Friedrich August Kekule and Archibald Scott Couper recognize that carbon atoms have the ability to link to one another in chains.
- Archibald Scott Couper uses straight lines to indicate valence bonds in organic compounds, as is still the practice in most modern structural diagrams.
- Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science (with which is incorporated the Chemical Gazette), the first weekly chemistry periodical, is published in England. It continues to be published until 1932.
- Congress is held at Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule to discuss the feasibility of establishing a systematic and rational nomenclature for chemistry. The congress does not reach any conclusive results, but several key participants return home with Stanislao Cannizzaro’s outline (1858), which ultimately convinces them of the validity of his scheme for calculating atomic weights.
- Friedrich August Kekule, as well as others including Josef Loschmidt, identifies the ring structure of benzene.
- The Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft is established. Begins publication of its journal, Berichte.
- The Royal Society begins publication of its Catalogue of Papers in London.
- The Rossiskoe Khimicheskoe Obschestvo (now Russko Khimichesko Obschestvo) is established in Russia. Begins publication of a journal the following year.
- Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev publishes a periodic table of the elements organized by atomic weight, similar chemical and physical characteristics, and valence.
- Julius Lothar Meyer publishes a periodic table similar to Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev’s that he has been developing since 1864.
- Societa Chimia Italiana is established in Italy. Begins publication of a journal the same year.
- Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff and Joseph Achille LeBel’s recognition that there are two ways of arranging four unlike substituents tetrahedrally around a carbon atom marks the beginning ofthree-dimensional structural organic chemistry and the associated problem of representing these structures graphically and, much later, in a machine-readable code.
- American Chemical Society (ACS) is formed in New York City and publishes first proceedings.
- Kagaku-kai is established in Tokyo and, two years later, publishes its journal in Japanese; in 1921, becomes Nippon Kagaku-kai.
- ACS commences publication of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, including abstracts of foreign journals.
- Index Medicus is first issued by the Library of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army; John Shaw Billings, librarian.
- Friedrich Beilstein issues the first edition of his Handbuch der Organischen Chemie, a ready reference to fifteen hundred organic chemicals.
- AAAS Committee on Indexing Chemical Literature is established.
- London’s Chemical Society publishes Nomenclature and Notation, guidelines for establishing systematic and uniform practices.
- Lexicon der Kohlenstoffverbindungen, a formula index to Beilsteins Handbuch der Organischen Chemie, is published by Victor von Richter.
- Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies begins abstracting section, “Index Notes,” covering about one hundred journals in the field of engineering. Becomes Engineering Index in 1896.
- ACS establishes the Committee on Nomenclature and Notation.
- First edition of Merck Index is published; at first it is just a list of chemicals and drugs available from Merck & Co.
- Geneva conference establishes principles that set the stage for an evolving chemical nomenclature. These principles are developed more fully by various forerunners of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which is founded in 1919.
- AAAS Committee on Indexing Chemical Literature presents plans for an international index to the chemical literature.
- First U.S. venture in chemical abstracting, the Review of American Chemical Research (a supplement to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Quarterly), undertaken by Arthur A. Noyes. In 1897 it is incorporated into the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
- Alfred Werner introduces a systematic nomenclature for coordination compounds based on the groups surrounding a central metal atom.