Born at the turn of the twentieth century in a tiny Illinois farming community, Arnold Beckman went on to become an influential chemist, inventor, and philanthropist to whom the National Academy of Science awarded its highest honor: the Public Welfare Medal. Beckman's inventions include the first commercially successful electronic pH meter in 1934. From this, he started Beckman Instruments (now Beckman Coulter, Inc.), which grew to specialize in a wide range of laboratory and biomedical instruments. Beckman's personal papers and the corporate records of Beckman Coulter, Inc., have been made digitally available by the Science History Institute. The Beckman Historical Collection, which currently contains over 2,400 works, includes letters, photographs, business correspondence, advertisements, instrument manuals, patents, internal publications and memos, ephemera, and more. This collection is searchable and can be narrowed by numerous fields, and images can be downloaded as a variety of file types and resolutions. The Science History Institute, which was renamed as such in February 2018 following the 2015 merger of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Life Sciences Foundation, is a Philadelphia-based non-profit that "collects and shares the stories of innovators and of discoveries that shape our lives."
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