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USDA Bureau of Chemistry Photograph Collection

Identifier: 2004-524

Scope and Contents

These photographs were found among other Science History Institute collection materials and are believed to depict various laboratories associated with the USDA Bureau of Chemistry. The photographs are organized in individual sleeves according to the name or description of the laboratory, as recorded on the back of each photograph, and provide general views of laboratory equipment and experiments. The date range ascribed to the photographs is 1901 to 1927, the active dates for the Bureau of Chemistry.


  • Creation: 1901-1927


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:

Biographical / Historical

The USDA Bureau of Chemistry was established in 1901 through Congressional appropriations as a successor to the USDA Division of Chemistry. The new Bureau of Chemistry significantly built upon the work of its predecessor, which under the leadership of chief chemist Harvey Washington Wiley conducted research into the adulteration and misbranding of food and drugs on the American market. The 1906 Food and Drug Act, also known as the "Wiley Act," notably increased the Bureau's regulatory powers and led to the establishment of laboratories throughout the United States for testing the purity and composition of foods and drugs. These laboratories and the Bureau's campaigns against chemical additives exemplified the general Progressive-era trend towards greater federal regulation in matters of public safety. However, several judicial decisions quickly curtailed the Bureau’s regulatory powers, which ultimately were reorganized under a new USDA body, the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Organization (later the Food and Drug Administration) in 1927.


17 Photographic Prints (1 box)

Language of Materials



Print photographs of various laboratories believed to be associated with the USDA Bureau of Chemistry.

Digitized Materials

This collection has been entirely digitized and is available online in our Digital Collections:

Processing Information

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

USDA Bureau of Chemistry Photograph Collection
Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear. Edited by Alex Asal in 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 8/29/2023: Digitized Materials note added.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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