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Marion E. Sparks Publications

Miss Sparks was a prolific writer, publishing articles on bird watching and astronomy before focusing her attention on chemical literature. She wrote several articles for the Illinois Chemist, which was “a quarterly published in the interests of the faculty, alumni and students of the department of chemistry of the University of Illinois.” Below are links and descriptions of her publications. Also included on this page are reviews of her self-published book.

Articles | Books | Letter to the Editor | Reviews of Book | About Sparks


Birds vs. Street Cars.” The Wilson Bulletin, no. 51, pp. 44-47. June 1905.
Sparks discusses whether the new electric cars have had any effect on the birds in the area by stating what birds were seen on a particular day.

Brilliant Meteor.” Popular Astronomy, v. 5, pp. 558-559. 1897-1898.
Sparks details a November 29, 1897, meteor sighting in Urbana.

With W. A. Noyes. “A Census of the Periodical Literature of Chemistry Published in the United States.” Science, vol. XLV, no. 1155, pp. 168-171. February 1917.
Using a table to justify their position, Sparks and Noyes argue that there was a notable increase in publishing by academic institutions from 1909-1910 to 1914-1915.

Chemical Literature and Its Use.” Science, N.S. Vol. XLVII, no. 1216, pp. 377-381. April 1918.
Sparks explains why it is necessary to teach chemistry students how to research.

The Chemistry Library (1915).” Illinois Chemist, Introductory Number. July 1915.
Sparks discusses the collection and the research services available to alumni.

The Chemistry Library (1916).” Illinois Chemist, v. 1, no. 3, pp. 14-16. April 1916.
Sparks explains the history of the library and the growth of the collection.

The Chemistry Library, Its History and Use.” Illinois Chemist, v. 6, no. 4, pp. 115, 117. June 1922.
Sparks details the history of the chemistry library at the University of Illinois, discusses its users and when the library is busiest.

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Chemical Literature and Its Use. Urbana, IL: Marion E. Sparks, 1919.
Sparks explains the purpose of her book in the preface: “These notes were compiled to serve as a brief guide to the increasing flood of chemical literature. They are prepared for the use of students who have a reading knowledge of French and German, and have had two years of college chemistry.” The University of California Libraries recently digitized their copy of this text. Visit the Internet Archive to view their copy of the book.

Chemical Literature and Its Use. Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Urbana, IL: Marion E. Sparks, 1921.
In her second preface, Sparks states: “The second edition, is, with few exceptions, much like the first; more data on certain works have been given, errors corrected, and some new books and serials added. The number of lectures has been increased.” The University of California Libraries recently digitized their copy of this text. Visit the Internet Archive to view their copy of the second edition of the book.

Some Recent and Readable Books in General Science. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1920.
Sparks created an annotated bibliography of works from the following areas of science: botany, chemistry, geology, physics, and zoology. It includes the call numbers and prices of the books, most of which can be found in the University of Illinois collection.
Courtesy New York Public Library

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Letter to the Editor

Dialect, or English?The Dial: a semi-monthly journal of literary criticism, discussion, and information, v. 24, p. 39. January 1898.
Sparks questions the use of words that are not considered to be a part of “standard English.”

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Reviews of Book

Marion E. Sparks writes book on chemical work.” 1919 or 1920.
Article and review of the first edition of Sparks’ work by a university or local newspaper. A typed transcript of the text follows the original.

Chem. Literature Only Course of Kind in U.S.Letter from Sparks dated Jan. 5, 1922. Review of second edition dated Oct. 21, 1921.
First you will see Sparks’ comments to the writer about corrections to the review. The article is dated October 29, 1921. The tone of the article implies it was in a university or local newspaper. A typed transcript of the text follows the original.

Chemical Literature and Its Use.” Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, v. XL, no. 23. Review, v. IV, p. 451. London: The Society of Chemical Industry,1921.
“A careful perusal of the pamphlet leaves the impression that the chemistry students of Illinois University are, indeed, fortunate in having the opportunity of attending this course of lectures…Students of chemistry everywhere will find the pamphlet very useful for the purpose of reference.”

McClelland, E. H. Chemical Reading Courses.” Notes and Correspondence section in The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, v. 12, no. 10, p. 1026. American Chemical Society, 1920.
The first edition of Sparks’ work is mentioned as one of the “up-to-date reference lists.” (See the highlighted text.)

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About Sparks

Beckman, Arnold O., Editor. “Books and More Books.” Illinois Chemist, v. 6, no. 2. February 1922.
The article includes praise for Miss Sparks and the new additions to the chemistry library.

Adkins, Homer and S. M. McElvain. An Introduction to the Practice of Organic Chemistry in the Laboratory. International Chemical Series. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1925. Page 153.
The authors mention Sparks’ first edition of Chemical Literature and Its Use in Chapter 8: The Literature of Organic Chemistry. Her work is grouped with a few other resources referred to as “valuable sources of information.”

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