CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

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With publication of the 94th (2013-2014) Edition of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics this year, the Handbook celebrates its 100th Anniversary. The first edition of the Handbook was published in 1913.  It was a small, pocket-size document of 116 pages. The publisher of the first volume was a family owned Cleveland company that sold chemical laboratory supplies and that remained in control of the Handbook until 1987. The Preface in the first volume stated:

“In compliance with the requests of hundreds of our friends for a small but comprehensive book of reference on chemical and physical topics, we have designed and compiled this pocket manual of Chemistry and Physics.” 

The Handbook came to be commonly known as the “Rubber Bible” because as Sir William Wakeham stated in the Foreword of the 92nd Edition, “it seemed to us to contain the collated data of science.”  The Handbook has continued to be published and updated on an annual basis except for missing some editions during the world wars of the past century. 

The Handbook has had only five editors over its lifetime. The first Editor was William R. Veazey, a professor of chemistry at the Case School of Applied Science, now Case Western Reserve University.  He was succeeded by Charles D. Hodgman, professor of physics at Case, who led the Handbook for almost 50 years from 1915 to 1963. Next, Robert C. Weast, professor of chemistry at Case, served as editor for 25 years from 1964 to 1989, and David R. Lide of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) served for 20 years from 1990 to 2009.  W. M. Haynes of NIST has served as Editor since 2010. The relative stability and broad interests of the editors have played key roles in the successful transition of the Handbook over a number of generations of students and scientists. Another important factor to the success of the Handbook has been the contributions of a worldwide network of outstanding scientists who have provided input of the highest quality in their own areas of expertise on a continuing basis.

After the publication of the Handbook was controlled by a single company for almost 75 years, the company was acquired by Time Mirror Co. in 1987. Subsequent owners, through the present publisher, Taylor and Francis Group, have recognized the Handbook as a flagship publication and have provided the strong support necessary to maintain its high standards and enable it to evolve into the internet age while meeting the changing needs of its users. The current hardcopy edition of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics comprises 2,600 pages of critically evaluated data; it is also available in eBook and interactive online formats.

The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has become an essential resource for students and scientists worldwide for physical and chemical data and information on related topics, such as biochemistry, geophysics, astronomy, and environmental science. It has attained a position as the first source for technical data, especially for those seeking information in areas outside their own area of expertise, but which they need to bridge a scientific gap. A high standard of quality has been a hallmark for the Handbook over the past century in providing critically evaluated data with reliable sources of documentation and in continually updating and expanding the coverage of the diverse subject matter in the Handbook consistent with advances in science and technology. Few could argue with the claim that the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has been the single most widely used source of physical and chemical data over the past century.

As the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics enters its second century, it is expected that, based on its current reputation and its long-term history, it will continue to serve as the single most trusted source for chemical and physical data. Efforts will continue to make it more user friendly in terms of delivery mechanisms, to expand its coverage to meet the needs of the next generations of students and scientists, and to maintain the highest standards of quality control of the data in terms of the reliability of the information and its documentation.

Mickey Haynes, Editor-in-Chief, CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics


NEW BOOKS. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1917, 39 (4), pp 837–840