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I have found a 1954 paper in J. Am. Chem. Soc. which gives various temperatures in degrees but does not specify units.

A snippet of the introduction is:
Snippet of article introduction

Titanium reacts appreciably with fluorine above 150°…

If I were feeling charitable, I might excuse the "units are for wimps" attitude as reflecting a commonly understood standard for that publication at that time. Perhaps my searching was poor, but I couldn't find an ACS standard or style guide for the 1950s era.

Given the location and time, I would guess that the temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit, but I can't be sure they're not Celsius. Is there any reasonable way to determine which units the authors were actually using?

I don't have access to the full paper, just the first page at the link below.

Haendler et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc.1954, 76 (8), pp 2177–2178
DOI 10.1021/ja01637a038

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These are degrees Celsius.

To prove that, you could search JACS for the publications of the same year/issue for the temperature-related physical constants such as melting point:

  • Douglas et al. [1] lists m.p. of $\ce{LiF}$ as $\pu{848 ± 1 ^\circ}$, whereas currently Wikipedia lists $\pu{845 °C}$.
  • Yankwich et al. [2] lists m.p. of malonic acid as $\pu{140 ^\circ}$ whereas currently Wikipedia lists $\pu{135 to 137 °C}$.

You may find further examples, but even at this point it's fairly obvious what those temperature units are.

References

  1. Douglas, T. B.; Dever, J. L. Lithium Fluoride: Heat Content from 0 to 900°, the Melting Point and Heat of Fusion. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1954, 76 (19), 4826–4829. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja01648a016.
  2. Yankwich, P. E.; Promislow, A. L. Intramolecular Carbon Isotope Effect in the Decarboxylation of Liquid Malonic Acid Near the Melting Point. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1954, 76 (18), 4648–4651. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja01647a050.
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I don't see an easy way to determine this, without e.g. cross-referencing the data to some other source. However, maybe noteworthy is the fact that the next article in the journal (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1954, 76 (8), 2178–2179) is written by the same first author, H. M. Haendler. In that article, there is a table giving temperatures in degrees Celsius. It stands to reason that the author would have consistently used the same units in consecutive publications.

As a side note, a tip to access old ACS papers which are two pages long: You can get the first page free from the link you have, and the second page free from the link to the article immediately after it. (The first page of the next article being, of course, the second page of the previous article.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I like your trick! I mean tip. $\endgroup$ – James Gaidis Apr 12 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol: Good point. Yet, I'd say those 2-page papers are either notes or communications, to make it technically correct. :-) $\endgroup$ – Mathew Mahindaratne Apr 12 at 19:19

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