the early years

Professors and third year students, 1881

Professors and third year students, 1881


This special web-based edition brings together articles written by Dr Jim Eckert on the early years of Chemistry and the University that appeared between 2003 and 2006 in ChemNEWS, the newsletter of Sydney University Chemistry Alumni.

Jim says: "Most of the photos were located and reproduced by the staff of the University Archives who could not have been more helpful. My thanks go also to the Chemistry School's Anne Woods who presented the material with taste and talent."

What were chemistry lectures like a hundred years ago? Were there lecture demonstrations; and what did lecturers use as "visual aids" before they had overhead and slide projectors? What did the chemistry labs look like? How demanding was the prac? And how safe? And those photos from the 1850s, of gentlemen in stove-pipe hats and of stonemasons carving gargoyles for the Main Building. Who took them and how was it done – when photography was in its infancy?

If you have been reading the articles in ChemNEWS, you will know about such matters. If not, or if you missed any of them, read on.


Head of School



          1. University Main Building
          2. Great Hall
          3. Fisher Library
          4. Men's Common Room
          5. Women's Common Room
          6. Medical School
          7. Department of Chemistry, Metallurgy, Assaying and Mining
          8. Department of Geology and School of Mines
          9. Department of Physics
          10. Department of Engineering
          11. Department of Biology
          12. Macleay Museum
          13. Gardener's Lodge
          14. Messenger's Lodge
          15. Caretaker's Lodge
          16. Cricket Ground
          17. Attendant's Lodge
          18. Tennis Courts
          19. St Paul's College
          20. St John's College
          21. St Andrew's College
          22. Women's College
          23. Prince Alfred Hospital