The Gestation and Growth of the Periodic Table


  • David A. Johnson School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
  • Alan F. Williams Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, University of Geneva, 30 quai Ernest Ansermet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland;, Email:



Actinides, Lanthanides, Mendeleyev, Periodic table


The development of ideas of chemical periodicity from Lavoisier to Mendeleyev's first periodic table of 1869 is surveyed. Although his first periodic table contained a number of errors and weaknesses, his remarkable predictions of the properties of several then unknown elements, together with his capacity to adapt the table to new discoveries, slowly led to its general acceptance. The theory of atomic structure slowly developed to a point where it could rationalise the structure of the table which had, however, been established solely on the basis of experimental observations. Chemistry has played the central role, up to and including the final modification of Seaborg to introduce the actinides – although this had been foreseen by Alfred Werner! Finally we discuss the many physical forms in which the table has been presented.




How to Cite

D. A. Johnson, A. F. Williams, Chimia 2019, 73, 144, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2019.144.