Houben-Weyl Centenary

100 Years of Houben-Weyl and Science of Synthesis Video

Houben-Weyl - Science of Synthesis Timeline

A look at 100 Years of Houben-Weyl

Celebrate with us.

Thieme Chemistry will be celebrating 100 Years of Houben-Weyl throughout 2009 at various conferences.  Come and celebrate the Houben-Weyl and Science of Synthesis Centenary with us!

What is Houben-Weyl

About Houben-Weyl

Houben-Weyl - Methoden der Organischen Chemie (Methods of Organic Chemistry) is a standard reference work (originally published in the German language until 1990 when it was first published in English) for chemists engaged in organic synthesis. In volumes on compound classes, including all supplemental volumes, preparative methods are treated comprehensively and critically. Tables of examples compare the most important methods and show their scope. Detailed experimental procedures are given for the best methods. The reactivity and further reactions of each compound class are also presented. The extensive use of formula schemes help make the German-language volumes more readily understandable to non-German readers.


The success of Houben-Weyl over the last 100 years was made possible by the collaborative work of world-renowned chemists in both industry and academia, who created a balanced work by considering published results from journals, books, and the patent literature. Thus, Houben-Weyl has become an important and celebrated standard reference work, serving the scientific community with a critical selection of synthetic methods. Houben-Weyl is an indispensable treatise for every synthetic chemist.


Houben-Weyl Editions


  • 1st ed. (1909-1911) - 2 volumes
  • 2nd ed. (1921-1924) - 4 volumes
  • 3rd ed. (1924-1941) - 4 volumes
  • 4th ed. (1952-1987) - 67 volumes
    • 3 indices
  • E-Series (1982-2003) - 23 volumes
    • available in German and after 1990 in English
  • Overall scope:
    • 160,000 pages (160 volumes)
    • 580,000 structures
    • 146,000 experimental procedures
    • 700,000 references (back to the 1800s)

The series “Methoden der Organischen Chemie“ (Houben-Weyl Methods of Organic Chemistry) was established in 1909 by the German chemist Theodor Weyl. The first edition consisted of two volumes and covered literature published as early as 1834. Publication was continued in 1913 by Heinrich J. Houben.  The comprehensive description of preparative methods in a consistent style and their critical evaluation by leading experts is the philosophy on which Houben-Weyl was founded.


Houben-Weyl was continued with the 4th edition in 1952 by Eugen Müller, Otto Bayer, Hans Meerwein and Karl Ziegler and from 1975 by Heinz Kropf and H.-G. Padeken. The 4th edition ended in 1987 with a complete volume set of 67 and 3 index volumes.


Already from 1982 the E-Series was established. It contained 23 additional and supplementary volumes. From 1990 onwards Houben-Weyl was published in English, thus making it accessible to chemists worldwide. The last volume of Houben-Weyl was published in the year 2003.


But soon Thieme realized that researchers were facing an ‘information overload’ on reaction schemes and synthetic routes. With this in mind Thieme thus saw the need to re-launch the Houben-Weyl series in a new accessible and focused format called Science of Synthesis, Houben-Weyl Methods of Molecular Transformations.


When completed in 2009 the Science of Synthesis series will consist of a total number of 48 volumes, containing approximately 50,000 pages featuring 38,000 methods, 11,000 variations, 24,000 reaction schemes, 24,000 tables, and  ca. 240,000 reactions.


Thus 100 years after Weyl’s first edition was published, Houben-Weyl and Science of Synthesis in combination now form a highly acclaimed reference series in print and online valued by scientists and researchers around the world.