Review of ‘First Principles of Chemistry’ by Raymond B. Brownlee, ... by wppalmer [WorldCat.org]
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Laboratory exercises to accompany First principles of chemistry

by Raymond Bedell Brownlee; Robert Warren Fuller; William J Hancock; Michael Druck Sohon; Jesse Elon Whitsit

  Print book

Review of ‘First Principles of Chemistry’ by Raymond B. Brownlee, ...   (2018-01-08)

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by wppalmer

Review of ‘First Principles of Chemistry’ by Raymond B. Brownlee, William J. Hancock, Robert W. Fuller, Michael D. Sohon, and Jesse E. Whitsit.

CITATION: Brownlee, R. B., Fuller, R. W., Hancock, W. J., Sohon, M. D., & Whitsit, J. E. (1907). ‘First principles of chemistry’. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Reviewer: Dr W. P. Palmer

This is a chemistry textbook by five New York school teachers who taught at leading New York high schools. The authors were Raymond B. Brownlee, William J. Hancock, Robert W. Fuller, Michael D. Sohon, and Jesse E. Whitsit. The surprising feature of this textbook is that it survived with different titles and numerous editions until the 1970s.

The textbook, ‘First principles of chemistry’, was accompanied by a laboratory manual entitled ‘Laboratory exercises to accompany first principles of chemistry and also by a teachers’ guide for the textbook and a teachers’ guide for the practical manual. Additionally, a small volume of review exercises was published for students. The textbook, ‘First principles of chemistry’ was replaced by a similar text ‘Elementary principles of chemistry’ accompanied by its own laboratory manual and teachers’ guide. Finally, in the 1940s the two earlier textbooks were replaced by Elements of chemistry which had its own laboratory manual and continued until about 1970.

It is difficult to judge fairly the value of different textbooks as chemistry is a rapidly changing subject and educational styles have changed. It is probably best to judge the value of the text by its evident popularity with teachers and by contemporary reviews. One reviewer stated that “The claims of the authors as stated in the preface are accurately fulfilled. These are: (1) That the experimental evidence precedes the chemical theory and that when sufficient facts have been given to make explanation necessary, generalizations of the science have been introduced, (2) that the historic order is followed in developing the theory, and (3) that the practical aspects of the science arc emphasized by giving the pupil some idea of the great commercial importance of chemistry.” These are valuable assets in any science textbook, even today. Also. the authors had been on a New York Education Department Chemistry committee that suggested syllabus changes that were implemented by the New York Education Department. Their book was the first to be written to accommodate these changes and was thus widely accepted.

This book and the accompanying books written by these authors continued successfully for more than half a century.

BILL PALMER




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