BSHS Monograph 13Element of Controversy

Chang, Hasok and Jackson, Catherine. 2007. An Element of Controversy: The Life of Chlorine in Science, Medicine, Technology and War (London: British Society for the History of Science), 407 pages.

ISBN 978-0-906450-15-4 in-print 6″x9″ paper
ISBN 978-0-906450-01-7 out-of-print
RRP £15


  • full volume (pdf, 5.5Mb)
  • introduction (pdf)
  • table of contents (pdf)


Softcover paper edition may be purchased from online book retailers, e.g.,


“The high quality of

[this] publication reinforces the ideas that learning is doing, that there is a continuity between students and experts, and that undergraduate students can produce research worthy of publication.” “The book represents a useful piece of historical research and may also serve as a model for similar projects by other educators, both in chemistry and related disciplines.”
Journal of Chemical Education

“This book is more than an excellent discussion of the various controversies that have surrounded the element chlorine since it was discovered in the 18th century. … Beyond serving as a historical analysis, the book deserves attention because it was created by groups of undergraduate students in a series of classes at University College, London, from 2000 to 2005. Each year the students passed their work along to the next group, so that the final version was a collaborative effort. The result demonstrates not just an excellent historical resource but also a highly successful educational experiment.”
Choice (May 2008)

Table of Contents


author title
01 Chang, Hasok
Jackson, Catherine
Part A Chlorine and the Theory of Matter
15 Ashbee, Ruth The Discovery of Chlorine: A Window on the Chemical Revolution
41 Gray, Tamsin
Coates, Rosemary
Åkesson, Mårten
The Elementary Nature of Chlorine
73 Nendick, Jonathan
Scrancher, Dominic
Usher, Olivier
Chlorine and Prout’s Hypothesis
105 Guy, Christian
Goddard, Emma
Milner, Emily
Murch, Lisa
Clegg, Andrew B.
Looking into the Core of the Sun
Part B Life, Death and Destruction by Chlorine
153 Chung, Manchi
Farooqi, Saber
Soper, Jacob
Brown, Olympia
Obstacles in the Establishment of Chlorine Bleaching
179 Lewcock, Anna
Scott-Kerr, Fiona
Mathieson, Elinor
Chlorine Disinfection and Theories of Disease
220 Cowell, Frederick
Goh, Xuan
Cambrook, James
Bulley, David
Chlorine as the First Major Chemical Weapon
255 Hobbs, Abbi
Jefferson, Catherine
Coppeard, Nicholas
Pitt, Chris
Ethics, Public Relations, and the Origins of the Geneva Protocol
296 Nader, David
Marcinko, Spasoje
The Rise and Fall of “Chlorine Chambers” Against Cold and Flu
324 Raphael, Sam
Kalpadakis, George
O’Reilly-Weinstock, Daisy
War and the Scientific Community
360 Groshong, Kimm The Noisy Reception of Silent Spring
383 Chang, Hasok Epilogue: Turning an Undergraduate Class into a Professional Research Community
395 Index