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 Introduction
 Table of Contents
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 The chemist at work
 Note on the sources
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The rise of the American chemistry profession, 1850-1900
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Title: The rise of the American chemistry profession, 1850-1900
Series Title: University of Florida monographs: social sciences
Physical Description: 76 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Beardsley, Edward H
Publisher: Univ. of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1964
Copyright Date: 1964
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Subjects / Keywords: Chemistry -- history   ( mesh )
Chemistry -- Vocational guidance   ( lcsh )
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Introduction
        Introduction 1
        Introduction 2
        Introduction 3
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Education in chemistry: American origins
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Education in chemistry: The German influence
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Professional organization: The national societies
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Professional organization: National journals
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    The chemist at work
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    Note on the sources
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Back Matter
        Page 76
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
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THE RISE OF THE
AMERICAN CHEMISTRY
PROFESSION, 1850-1900

by Edward H. Beardsley


University of Florida Monographs


SOCIAL SCIENCES
No. 23, Summer 1964


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PRESS / GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA






:3
F-J

CHEMISTRY
EDITORIAL COMMITTEE BRA~RY


Social Sciences Monographs


ARTHUR W. THOMPSON, Chairman
Professor of History

RALPH H. BLODGETT
Professor of Economics

ARTHUR W. COMBS
Professor of Education

MANNING J. DAUER
Professor of Political Science

T. LYNN SMIrr
Professor of Sociology

WILSE B. WEBB
Professor of Psychology


COPYRIGHT 1964 BY THE BOARD OF
COMMISSIONERS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS
OF FLORIDA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
CATALOG CARD No. 64-65130

PRINTED BY THE ROSE PRINTING
COMPANY, INC., TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA


























INTRODUCTION


In 1850 Americans had enjoyed over fifty years
of political independence, but in other spheres
the United States remained Europe's colony. The
national economy was still extractive, depending
largely on European purchases of raw cotton to
provide foreign credits. As a developing nation
the United States had deficiencies of heavy man-
ufactured goods and investment capital, both of
which the Old World had to supply. In the arts,
particularly in music, architecture, and painting,
Europe set American standards. While this na-
tion could boast individuals who had shown
great originality, in most matters of culture and
taste America continued to be an imitative coun-
try.
In science the United States relied almost com-
pletely on Europe. This dependence was par-
ticularly apparent in the field of chemistry. Stu-
dents and professionals looked to Europe for





INTRODUCTION
both the tools and the ideas of the discipline.
American chemists remained a step or two be-
hind those in Europe, relying on students return-
ing from abroad and on foreign reports in the
few American scientific journals for word of new
theoretical developments.
If 1850 saw American chemists playing a de-
pendent role, changes were in prospect. In the
next half-century chemists succeeded in erecting
the professional institutions they needed to make
them self-sufficient. Aided by demands from
industry for wider dissemination of applied
knowledge, American scientists created an un-
dergraduate educational system capable of im-
parting known principles and techniques to
students in chemistry. With the German example
to guide them, workers also built a network of
graduate departments in which young men could
train themselves for research careers. In the same
half-century chemists also labored to create
specialized journals and professional societies
which proved effective in promoting research,
giving efficiency and unity to the national effort,
and setting values for the profession.
American chemists needed a secure position in
the economy just as much as they needed pro-
fessional institutions. By the first decade of the
twentieth century reforms in higher education,
an expanding government bureaucracy, and the
rise of national industries all combined to give
chemists an assured place in the occupational
structure of American society.
This monograph is an institutional history of
chemistry in the United States. It rests on the
premise that science derives many of its goals,
its institutional forms, and its support from the
larger society of which it is a part. I have not
attempted to write a history of the development
of chemical knowledge. The existence and ex-
pansion of a body of knowledge is basic to any





INTRODUCTION
profession, but I feel justified in excluding in-
ternal, technical history for two reasons. First,
this is a history of American activity, and in the
period under study the major theoretical ad-
vances were made by Europeans. Second, sound
histories of the growth of chemical knowledge
already exist, including a few accounts of Ameri-
can theoretical work.
I wish to express my appreciation to three men
who offered help and guidance in the prepara-
tion of this study. Assistant Professor Charles
Rosenberg, Department of History, University
of Pennsylvania, gave me the benefit of his wide
knowledge of the institutional development of
American science and supplied good counsel at
crucial times. Professor Aaron Ihde, who teaches
the history of science at the University of Wis-
consin, read my manuscript along the way and
made numerous helpful criticisms. I owe the
greatest debt to Professor Irvin G. Wyllie of the
Wisconsin Department of History for the stimula-
tion and encouragement he gave to the writing
of this essay. My thanks are due to him particu-
larly for his patience as I struggled with the task
of forging the tools of the historian from those of
the engineer. Finally, my thanks are extended
to the Graduate School of the University of Flor-
ida for making this publication possible.
Houghton Mifflin Company kindly gave per-
mission to quote from the Autobiography of
Andrew Carnegie, and Yale University Press
generously allowed quotation from Elizabeth
Osborne, From the Files of Samuel W. Johnson.
EDWARD H. BEBDSLEY


University of Wisconsin


























CONTENTS


1. Education in Chemistry:
American Origins 1

2. Education in Chemistry:
The German Influence 14

3. Professional Organization:
The National Societies 23

4. Professional Organization:
National Journals 34

5. The Chemist at Work 43

Note on the Sources 70





1. EDUCATION IN CHEMISTRY:
AMERICAN ORIGINS


Tn the middle decades of the nineteenth century, popular dis-
satisfaction with a higher educational system wed to the culture
of ancient Greece and Rome was at its height. Americans not plan-
ning careers in medicine, law, or the ministry shared a feeling that
the classical college had little to offer. The collegiate curriculum of
that day was almost totally devoted to Greek, Latin, mathematics,
and moral philosophy. Subjects having practical application, such
as engineering, chemistry, agricultural science, physics, and geol-
ogy, if taught at all, received only slight attention. Even where
scientific instruction was offered, teaching laboratories were prac-
tically unknown. As a result many Americans who were engaged
in the work of building railroads, exploiting natural resources, in-
creasing agricultural production, and setting up an industrial es-
tablishment began to insist that the United States had pressing
educational needs of a noncultural kind.
As early as the 1840's colleges began to feel the effects of their
remoteness from and indifference to the material interests of the
American people. In 1850 President Francis Wayland of Brown
University reported to his trustees that college enrollment was not
only failing to keep pace with the expanding American population,
but was actually experiencing a decline. From 1840 to 1850 total
attendance at twelve New England colleges and universities had
dropped from 2,063 to 1,884. Wayland said that the reason for
the decline was plain: Colleges "are not filled, because we do not
furnish the education desired by the people. . Even when we
give it away, still the demand diminishes."' Not all colleges could
give their services away; those that could not suffered a harsh fate.
In the years before 1860, declining student enrollment was a factor
in forcing over 700 colleges to close their doors.2 Colleges began to
see that the only hope of re-establishing their connection with the
1. Report to the Brown Corporation, 1850, quoted in Francis Amasa Walker,
Discussions in Education (New York, 1899), 82. See S. D. Ross, Democracy's
Colleges (Ames, Iowa, 1942), 15; Richard Hofstadter and D. C. Hardy, The
Development and Scope of Higher Education in the United States (New
York, 1952), 29.
2. Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University (New York,
1962), 219.





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
American people and of restoring their financial position lay in
making greater provision for studies promising immediate utility.
The rise of chemistry as an academic subject reflected the colleges'
growing willingness to pay heed to popular demands.
The Sheffield Scientific School of Yale College (initially called
the Department of Philosophy and the Arts), the Lawrence Sci-
entific School of Harvard College, and Harvard College itself led
the way in giving chemistry a respected place in American higher
education. These early chemistry departments set the pattern and
prepared the ground for later developments in American chemical
education. Their success was largely due to the individual efforts
of a handful of pioneer American chemists.3
In 1846 Benjamin Silliman, Sr., Yale professor of chemistry, and
his son and assistant, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., petitioned the Yale
Corporation to found a school of applied chemistry. Arguing that
the college should recognize the educational needs of the large
number of Americans planning to make their living in agriculture
and manufacturing, the Sillimans asked the Yale trustees to provide
a laboratory and establish professorships of agricultural and applied
chemistry. The petitioners testified that because of a lack of fa-
cilities they had turned away many students who had come to
them seeking advanced instruction in chemistry. These students
either had to give up their professional ambitions or go to Euro-
pean universities, since no American university offered advanced
training in chemistry at that time.4
After a period of deliberation the Yale Corporation in 1847 es-
tablished the Department of Philosophy and the Arts to embrace
all branches not included under theology, medicine, or law. Faith-
ful to the Sillimans' request, the corporation included the School
3. Early efforts to establish systems of chemical education at Harvard and
Yale did not represent the first provision for instruction in chemistry. American
colleges had established chairs of chemistry in the late eighteenth century.
What made these mid-nineteenth-century chemical departments unique was
that they were the first to offer a student of chemistry a full program of chemi-
cal studies, including laboratory practice. There were other centers of chemical
education which evolved about the same time as the departments in New
Haven and Cambridge, such as the Chandler Scientific School of Dartmouth
College and the University of Michigan's Department of Literature, Science,
and the Arts. These departments did not have as much influence as the
chemistry programs at Harvard and Yale, nor did they attract students or staff
of the same calibre.
4. John F. Fulton and Elizabeth Thomson, Benjamin Silliman, 1779-1864:
Pathfinder in American Science (New York, 1947), 206-9.

2





AMERICAN ORIGINS
of Applied Chemistry in the new department and created the
professorships that the Sillimans had specified. Benjamin Silliman,
Jr., received the post of Professor of Chemistry as Applied to the
Arts, and John Pitkin Norton, formerly a special student of chem-
istry under the Sillimans, Professor of Agricultural Chemistry.5
The Silliman and Norton appointments carried no salary. The
college cautioned the new professors that it did not expect to bear
any of the financial burdens of the chemistry school. It did pro-
vide a laboratory for chemical instruction (a house that had
served as the president's residence), but on a rent basis and only
after Norton and Silliman assured Yale President Woolsey that no
"danger from fire need be feared," and that "no change or injury"
to the house would result from its use as a laboratory.,
Students in the new department had no official connection with
Yale College. The corporation legislated to prevent contact be-
tween regular college students and those in the philosophy de-
partment. For the most part courses in the college were not open to
philosophy department students, and vice versa. Students of the new
department could not live in the college dormitory nor were they
welcome at the chapel services. Furthermore, there would be no
degrees for students in the new department: it must first prove
itself worthy of the Yale diploma.7
By 1847 Norton and Silliman had developed a program of
studies. Norton lectured on agricultural chemistry and Silliman
gave a course in industrial chemistry. In the analytical laboratory
students got the chance to practice what they had learned.8
Meeting expenses proved a difficult task. John T. Norton, the
young professor's father, anonymously gave $5,000 to support the
new enterprise.9 But that gift provided only a fraction of the en-
dowment needed, and professors Norton and Silliman had to rely
on their own resources to meet initial costs.10 In the first year
5. Catalogue of the Officers and Students in Yale College, 1846-47:42,
1847-48:4.
6. John Norton and Benjamin Silliman, Jr., c. 1847, to President Woolsey,
Yale Memorabilia Collection, Yale University.
7. Yale Catalogue, 1847-48:42-43. 8. Ibid.
9. Howard S. Miller, "A Bounty for Research. The Philanthropic Support of
Scientific Investigation in America, 1838-1902" (Typescript Ph.D. thesis, Uni-
versity of Wisconsin, 1964), 157.
10. Norton and Silliman, April 10, 1848, to Yale Corporation; c. 1849, to
Yale President and Corporation; c. 1850, to Yale Prudential Committee, Yale
Memorabilia Collection.
3





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
they expended $2,000 of their own funds for equipment and
chemicals. Operating expenses, far outrunning student fees, posed
another problem. Ever resourceful, the two chemists found a
solution in outside consulting work. They analyzed dried fish for a
man interested in its commercial fertilizer value and a piece of
India rubber for a young inventor named Charles Goodyear.11
By 1849 financial matters were fairly well in hand, the number
of students was rising, and the two professors viewed their success
as "far beyond our expectations."12 That year, however, saw the
first serious challenge to the infant scientific school: Silliman de-
parted for a teaching post at the University of Louisville.13 Had
John Norton been a man of small talent and dedication, Silliman's
leaving might have been crucial. Norton, however, was determined
to make the institution a "credit . to the country," and though
forced to work under a heavy strain, he seemed completely tire-
less.14 Besides giving nearly all the instruction, he worked ener-
getically to "sell" the school and to find jobs for its students. Yet
he always managed time for students' problems: his concern that
they have suitable living accommodations was characteristic of his
interest in their welfare.15
In 1850 Norton urged the Yale Corporation to reconsider its
position on degrees for his department. Awarding the bachelor's
and doctor's degrees would induce students to prolong their stay
in the laboratory and enhance its reputation. The college could
grant the higher awards without fear of sullying its standing, Nor-
ton argued, for students of the School of Applied Chemistry had
won creditable positions for themselves.'6 In 1851, after a year of
pressing his case, Norton achieved a partial victory: Yale agreed to
11. Norton, April 14, 1848, to Charles D. Miller; March 29, 1849, to F. G.
Parke; December 15, 1848, to Philip Galpin; April 19, 1849 to Charles Good-
year; Yale Analytical Laboratory Letter Press Book, Yale University Library,
microfilm in Wisconsin Historical Society Library, Madison.
12. Norton, October 7, 1848, to S. T. Rogers, Yale Analyt. Lab. Letter
Press Book; see Yale Catalogue, 1847-48, 1849-50.
13. Silliman continued to instruct at the applied chemistry school in the
summers, but for all practical purposes he was out of the picture by the fall of
1849.
14. June 7, 1849, to Oliver Wolcott Gibbs, Yale Analyt. Lab. Letter Press
Book.
15. Norton, November 16, 1848, to Peter Curtiss; April 8, 1851, to Charles B.
Stuart; January 23, 1851, to J. Bumell, Yale Analyt. Lab. Letter Press Book.
16. December 10, 1850, to Yale Prudential Committee; c. 1851, to Yale
President, Corporation, and Fellows, Yale Memorabilia Collection.

4





AMERICAN ORIGINS
grant the Bachelor of Philosophy degree to students of the new
department.17
In the fall of 1852 death ended John Norton's career. Only thirty
years old when he died, he succumbed to pneumonia contracted
during the winter of 1851-52 when he had taken on the extra
burden of traveling to Albany, New York, every week to aid in the
establishment of a university there. According to his father, Norton
"remembered his laboratory . in his dying moments, expressing
the earnest wish that it might be continued, and requesting that
if it were continued all his property therein . should be given
to Yale College."'8
The laboratory and the school continued. From 1852 to 1855 the
instructional staff and curriculum of the School of Applied Chem-
istry expanded measurably. In 1853 John A. Porter, a graduate of
Giessen University, took Norton's place as professor of agricultural
chemistry. Two years later George J. Brush and Samuel W. Johnson
joined the faculty. Brush returned from a period of study at Munich
and Freiberg universities to take up a post in mineralogy, and
Johnson, also trained at Munich, became first assistant in the
chemistry laboratory.19 These young men entered their work with
great enthusiasm. Brush told Johnson while still in Germany that
he thought they would "be able to do 'some pumpkins,' if not
more," when "we all get back and start our team in good
earnest."20
In 1854 Yale College acknowledged that the new program of
scientific studies had achieved respectability by renaming the
Department of Philosophy the Yale Scientific School.21 Her name
however, was all that Yale would give. The chemistry program
continued to lack an endowment, and the expansion in courses
and faculty, by attracting more students, put an added strain on

17. Yale Catalogue, 1851-52:45.
18. John T. Norton, January 12, 1853, to President Woolsey, Yale Memo-
rabilia Collection. Also see "Obituary," American Journal of Science and Arts,
14 (1853), 448-49.
19. Yale Catalogue, 1852-53:4; 1855-56:13; "Obituary of John A. Porter,"
American Journal of Science and Arts (1867), 290; "George J. Brush," Na-
tional Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 10:298; T. B. Osborne, "S. W. John-
son," National Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 7 (1913), 193-222.
20. Elizabeth A. Osborne, From the Letter Files of Samuel W. Johnson
(New Haven, 1918), 93.
21. Russell H. Chittenden, History of the Sheffield Scientific School (2 vol-
umes, New Haven, 1928), 1:71-72; Yale Catalogue, 1854-55:50; 1855-56:53.

5





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
existing facilities and income. By the mid-1850's some of the faculty
began to lose their enthusiasm and look for other positions. In 1856,
viewing the run-down condition of the laboratory and the lack of
books, Samuel Johnson concluded that the Yale Scientific School
was on the verge of failure.22
Aware of the pressing needs of the new institution, the scien-
tific community of Yale College launched an all-out effort to ob-
tain an adequate endowment. Although appeals were made at
commencements and in the periodical press, the campaign-with
but one exception-was a failure: Joseph Sheffield, New Haven
industrialist, gave $5000 to purchase a new building for the chem-
istry laboratory. While that gift allowed the establishment of a
more complete experimental course, including original investiga-
tions, it did not solve the problem of insufficient operating reve-
nue.23
In 1859 hope for endowment appeared from a new quarter.
Senator Justin Morrill introduced before Congress an agricultural
bill which promised support for institutions giving instruction in
agricultural science. Hope faded, however, as it became apparent
that President Buchanan would reject the measure. Benjamin
Silliman, Jr., now back in New Haven, expressed the frustration of
Yale chemists when he asked a Pennsylvania friend, "Cannot your
old statesman who now holds the trembling goose quil [sic] ready
to veto Morrill's Agriculture Bill be made to feel the force of opin-
ion from the rural districts . as against this last act of imbecile
folly?"24 Buchanan vetoed the bill as predicted, and 1860 promised
to be a crucial year for chemical education at the Yale Scientific
School. Hope for federal assistance was gone, the college would
offer no help, and there was no prospect of state aid. The chemistry
faculty was frankly worried about the school's survival.25
What promised to be a bleak year proved to be a good one.
Joseph Sheffield's long interest in practical science education and
the Yale Scientific School (partly because his son-in-law, John
Porter, was professor of agricultural chemistry there) led him to see
22. Chittenden, 1:71-72; E. A. Osborne, 92-93, 125-26, 103.
23. Chittenden, 1:65-70, 71-72; E. A. Osborne, 132-33; Yale Catalogue
1856-57:45. See D. C. Gilman, "Scientific Schools in Europe," American Jour-
nal of Education, 1 (1855), 315-28; John A. Porter, "Plan of an Agricultural
School," American Journal of Education, 1 (1855), 329-35.
24. March 7, 1859, to W. H. Brewer, Yale Memorabilia Collection.
25. E. A. Osborne, 132-33.


6





AMERICAN ORIGINS
finally that the school could not hope to prosper without large
means. In 1860 he agreed to give an endowment of $100,000.
This money provided a new laboratory and gave the chemical de-
partment an ample income for the first time. Financial stability
led to a complete overhaul of the course and degree program. In
1860 the Yale Scientific School offered the chemistry student a
three-year undergraduate course, plus a Ph.D. for advanced work.26
In 1863 additional support came to the Sheffield Scientific School
(renamed for its benefactor in 1862) when Connecticut made it the
beneficiary of the 1862 Morrill Act grant. Providing funds for basic
as well as applied sciences, the grant provided additional operating
revenue, new professorships, and student scholarships. Chemistry
and engineering, the most popular programs in the school, got the
bulk of the new support.27
The Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard College, unlike its
counterpart at Yale, was fortunate enough to have sufficient en-
dowment at the outset. In June, 1847, Abbott Lawrence, a New
England railroad builder, cotton manufacturer, and merchant, gave
$50,000 to endow scientific and technical education at Harvard.
Lawrence's experience had convinced him that skilled engineers
and chemists were vital to the success of American industry. His
work in cotton manufacturing had shown him that the develop-
ment of adequate water power required the service of a trained
engineer, and that bleacheries and printworks sorely needed skilled
chemists.28
Harvard College used the Lawrence gift to endow a separate
school of science, applying one-half of the money for a chemistry
laboratory. German-trained scientist Eben N. Horsford became the
first chemistry professor in the Lawrence Scientific School. As his
interests tended strongly toward applied chemistry, his course
program reflected those leanings.29 Opening his laboratory in 1848,
Horsford gave instruction in chemical analysis as applied to manu-
26. Chittenden, 1:71-72; Yale Catalogue, 1860-61:45-54.
27. Chittenden, 1:236. See Silliman, January 24, 1863, to W. H. Brewer,
Yale Memorabilia Collection; Chittenden, 1:91-92, 101, 118.
28. Charles W. Eliot, Harvard Memories (Cambridge, 1923), 57-58; R. J.
Storr, The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America (Chicago, 1958), 49:
Chittenden, 1:88; Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-
1936 (Cambridge, 1937), 279-80.
29. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 7:55-56; Charles Loring
Jackson, "Eben Horsford," American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Proceed,-
ings, 28 (1893), 342-43.

7





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
facturing, metallurgy, medicine, and agriculture. After mastering
basic analytical methods, students learned to run tests for poisons,
analyze water, and manufacture drugs and manures. Visits to
local chemical establishments were a part of the schedule, while
lectures in applied and theoretical chemistry completed Horsford's
program.
In 1851 and 1852 Horsford enlarged his laboratory course. The
offering of instruction in the "solution of problems of research in
experimental science" indicated that Horsford's course was not to
be geared totally to applied chemistry.80 In 1852 Harvard granted
the Bachelor of Science degree to students completing a year's
study and passing an examination in their major field.31
In the mid-1850's Charles F. Chandler, later to pioneer in chem-
ical education at the Columbia College School of Mines, became a
Lawrence School student. His experience suggested that Horsford's
program looked much better in the catalogue than it actually was.
Eager to study with Horsford, Chandler found that the chemist
gave only part time to his academic work, devoting much of his
attention to a chemical firm he had founded in 1853. Lack of
guidance was also a disappointment. After a hurried introduction
to qualitative and quantitative analysis, students were simply
"turned loose in the laboratory" to look after themselves.32 As Hors-
ford was no longer even giving his lectures, students had to make
independent home study serve in place of formal instruction. An-
other of Chandler's complaints was that the scientific school stu-
dents were virtually forbidden to enter the college gates. In general
Harvard followed the same policy of academic segregation as
Yale.33
In 1863 Eben Horsford left the Lawrence Scientific School to
devote full time to his manufacturing firm. German-trained Ph.D.
Oliver Wolcott Gibbs replaced him. Though he made few changes
in the curriculum, Gibbs put such stress on basic research that the
chemical work of the scientific school took on a whole, new tone.
An active researcher in his own right, Gibbs stimulated a like
enthusiasm among his students, often parcelling out portions of
30. Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Harvard University, 1851-
52:72. see ibid., 1848-49:59-60, 1852-53:74; M. V. Bail, View of Harvard
(Cambridge, 1949), 229-30.
31. Harvard Catalogue, 1851-52:71.
32. M. T. Bogert, "C. F. Chandler," National Academy, Biographical Mem-
oirs, 14 (1932), 130-31. 33. Ibid.

8





AMERICAN ORIGINS
his own experiments to promising pupils. While assistants attended
to routine instruction, Gibbs guided advanced scholars, checking
their investigations and challenging them to think for themselves.
Chemist Frank W. Clarke, reflecting on the fruitful years he spent
with Gibbs, asserted that his former mentor, more than any other
man, introduced the German concept of research into America.34
In 1850 Josiah Parsons Cooke accepted the post of instructor in
chemistry at Harvard College, full of plans to build a flourishing
program of chemical studies there. This promised to be no easy
task because in 1850 chemistry was defunct at Harvard. There was
no laboratory for teacher or pupil, nor did the college own a single
piece of chemical apparatus. Even lectures in chemistry had
disappeared from the curriculum, because there was no one to give
them. In a celebrated murder trial in 1849 Harvard's professor of
chemistry, John Webster, was found guilty of the brutal slaying of
a Boston physician and was hanged for his crime.35
If Josiah Cooke found little tradition in chemistry to build upon,
he was not without supporters for his work. He could count on the
assistance of popular opinion to back his efforts to loosen up the
rigid Harvard curriculum. About the time that Cooke assumed his
position at Harvard, George S. Boutwell, a Massachusetts Demo-
cratic leader, attacked Harvard for its indifference to the practical
concerns of life. Reporting to a state legislative committee which
was investigating the college, Boutwell charged that the Harvard
curriculum was twenty-five years behind the times. He accused
the institution of failing to "answer the just expectations of the
people of the state." Harvard College should have been trying to
make better "farmers, mechanics, and merchants," Boutwell said,
but instead it was offering instruction better suited to an aris-
tocracy.8"
Cooke, like Boutwell, wanted Harvard College to meet the needs
of the people of the state, but his youth (he was twenty-three when
he took up his Harvard post), low academic rank, and inexperience
seemed to limit his fitness to do battle with the classical tradition
in education. However, he had two things in his favor. He was a
34. F. W. Clarke, "Oliver Wolcott Gibbs,"' National Academy, Memoirs, 7
(1913), 10; see ibid., pp. 1-22; Harvard Catalogue, 1863-72.
35. Harvard Catalogue, 1849-50, 1850-51:5; Morison, 282-86; C. L. Jack-
son, et al., "Josiah Parsons Cooke," American Academy Proceedings, 30
(1895), 514-15.
36. Quoted in Morison, 287.

9





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
close friend of Harvard President Jared Sparks. This personal tie
meant that his proposals regarding education in chemistry would
receive a sympathetic hearing from at least one member of the
Harvard Corporation. Cooke's other asset was his persistence. He
sent letter after letter to corporation meetings until that body
found it "difficult to resist the frequent demands of the young
Professor."37
Cooke's polite agitation paid off. Before the end of his first year
he gained approval to add two courses to the one he contracted to
teach. His energy also won him an appointment to the vacant
chemistry chair, boosting his standing and providing him with
added income which he could use to advance his work. In succeed-
ing years he continued to strive toward an expanded curriculum,
until by 1856 he was offering five courses in chemistry-a sharp
contrast to the complete absence of courses in 1850.38
Aware that mere courses had little value without accompanying
experimental practice, Cooke began to campaign for a teaching
laboratory as soon as he came to Harvard. Knowing that college
trustees did not share his views, his initial demands were modest.
All he wanted was a small private laboratory in which he could
train a few students. In 1850 the college gave him a basement
storeroom and told him that he would have to provide chemicals
at his own expense.39 Luckily for the progress of chemistry at
Harvard, Cooke had sufficient private resources to outfit his early
laboratory.40
That first laboratory served him well as a place to prepare dem-
onstration experiments, but Cooke wanted to bring the student to
the apparatus rather than the apparatus to the student. This would
not only make the learning process more efficient, but it would
save Cooke a great deal of wasted effort. His responsibility for
lectures in the medical school in Boston as well as those in the
college at Cambridge, turned Cooke into a kind of academic team-
ster: several times a week he had to make the tedious trip between
the two points with a cartload of bulky and fragile apparatus.41
In 1856 Cooke decided to force the issue of a teaching laboratory.
37. Jackson, 533.
38. Ibid., 534; Harvard Catalogue, 1850-51:41-44, 48; 1853-54:26, 29,
30-31.
39. Jackson, 514-15.
40. Ibid., 530-31, 534.
41. Ibid., 516.

10





AMERICAN ORIGINS
His plan involved the use of the Boylston fund which had been
accumulating at Harvard since 1818. Ward Nicholas Boylston left
an endowment for an anatomical museum and chemistry labora-
tory but, by the terms of the gift, construction had to be deferred
until the fund reached $35,000. Although in 1856 the total of the
endowment was only $23,000, Cooke proposed that if the college
would release the fund for its stated purpose, he would raise the
balance. In January, 1857, after deliberating for several months, the
corporation agreed to Cooke's plan, with the proviso that the pro-
fessor raise not $12,000 but $17,000. Cooke had been soliciting
money while the corporation was deliberating, and in less than a
month after gaining approval for his scheme he was able to report
that he had raised the full amount. Astounded and pleased by the
young professor's drive, the college released the Boylston funds.42
In 1858 the laboratory was opened for instruction. Its completion
permitted Cooke to make new inroads on the curriculum. That
year he offered the first student laboratory course at Harvard
College. By 1859 he had succeeded in giving the college a
strong chemistry program. He had injected seven chemistry courses
into a tradition-bound curriculum, and, thanks largely to his efforts,
Harvard was one of the first of the "old" institutions to have a
teaching laboratory.43
The pioneer chemistry departments at the Sheffield and Law-
rence Scientific schools and within Harvard College had a great
influence on the development of facilities and programs elsewhere.
The 1850's and 1860's saw the establishment of a host of schools
patterned after the Lawrence and Sheffield examples. Among them
were the Chandler Scientific School of Dartmouth College, the
Brooklyn Polytechnic School, the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology, the Columbia College School of Mines, and the Pardee
Scientific School of Lafayette College.44 The work of Josiah Cooke
was also influential. Cooke helped to win for the sciences a place
in the college curriculum equal to that held by the classics. He also
helped to secure for students of the sciences the same rank and
privileges as other college students. Although the Lawrence and
42. Ibid., 539; see ibid., 536, 538-39; Bail, 241-42.
43. John Hays Gardiner, Harvard (New York, 1914), 46-47; Harvard
Catalogue, 1859-60:30-31.
44. Rudolph, 232-33. In the decade of the 1860's over twenty scientific
schools were founded. See Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1885-
1886 (Washington, 1887), 532-33.
11





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
Sheffield Scientific School pattern of a segregated existence exerted
more influence on the shape of education in chemistry in the be-
ginning, the Harvard College example of equal treatment com-
manded more attention after the initial momentum of the scientific
school movement had spent itself. When Cornell University opened
its doors in 1868, chemistry and other sciences had a place in its
curriculum equal to that of nonscientific subjects.45
These first programs in chemistry furnished the personnel to
staff the later chemistry departments. Josiah Cooke's students,
Charles W. Eliot and Frank Storer, were the first directors of the
analytical laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sheffield student William Blake taught mining chemistry at the
University of California, and later graduate Peter Collier held a
chemistry professorship at the University of Vermont. Chemistry
students of the Lawrence Scientific School taught at the University
of Wisconsin, Cornell University, and M.I.T., to cite but a few
examples.46
The factors contributing to the success of the earliest chemical
programs continued to operate beyond the formative years. Popular
demands for a higher education attuned to the practical pursuits,
Morrill Act grants, and the philanthropy of merchants and indus-
trialists remained key elements in expanding the facilities for edu-
cation in chemistry in America.
By the 1870's the American student could find some 60 col-
leges, universities, and scientific schools which offered at least
three years of instruction in chemistry.47 In effect, America had
created a national system of chemical education. It was a system
largely concerned with the dissemination and application of knowl-
edge, and in that respect not comparable with the systems of
chemical education in Germany, or even France. Nevertheless,
45. Andrew D. White, Autobiography (2 volumes, New York, 1905), 1:341.
The work that Cooke did for chemistry, other scholars did for other "forbidden"
studies, such as modem languages, American history, economics, English litera-
ture. The electoral system (especially after C. W. Eliot gave it such standing
at Harvard) furthered the work of such academic pioneers as Josiah Cooke, by
giving them greater freedom to set up courses, and by offering the student
freedom to select them.
46. Jackson, 541; National Cyclopedia, 10:40, 8:356; G. F. Bush, "History
of Higher Education in Massachusetts," Circular of Information Number 6,
U. S. Bureau of Education (Washington, 1891), 117.
47. F. W. Clarke, A Report of the Teaching of Chemistry and Physics and
Chemistry in the United States, Circular of the Bureau of Education, 1880
(Washington, 1881), 167-68, Table II.

12





AMERICAN ORIGINS
by the 1870's American chemistry departments were capable of
providing a supply of trained chemists to fill the increasing number
of positions in educational institutions, government agencies, and
industry. If American education in chemistry was not yet research-
minded, as the German system was, it was able to prepare the
American student to profit by German training.


18





2. EDUCATION IN CHEMISTRY:
THE GERMAN INFLUENCE


n the years between 1850 and World War I nearly 10,000 Ameri-
can students matriculated in German universities; about one-
tenth of them were seeking advanced instruction in chemistry.1
The most popular German institution for such students was the
University of Berlin, but the universities of Gottingen and Heidel-
berg and the Freiberg Mining Academy followed closely.2
The German university attracted young American chemistry
students for several reasons.3 Many students went to Germany be-
cause it was fashionable to do so, and because German training was
an index of culture. As one observer put it, "upper class students
in the United States don't think their education finished until they
have their Wanderjahr (or two) in a German university."4 Through
most of the nineteenth century the universities of Germany offered
1. For estimates of the number of American students in German universi-
ties, see Charles F. Thwing, The American and the German University (New
York, 1928), 140-41. In estimating chemists, I have used figures for chemis-
try students at Gottingen University in D. B. Shumway, "American Students
at the University of Gottingen," German-American Annals, 8 (January, Feb-
ruary, 1910), 199-251, and H. S. Van Klooster, "Friedrich Wohler and His
American Pupils," Journal of Chemical Education, 21 (April, 1944), 158-70.
Klooster and Shumway give a total of about 190 chemistry students at
Gottingen in the period from 1850 to World War I; and I have multiplied
this figure by a factor of five, which is approximately the proportion of Ameri-
can chemistry students in Germany who studied at Gottingen, according to a
study of the biographies of 185 American chemists (active in the years 1825-
1900) given in the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. The factor
of five also makes an allowance for the students who matriculated at several
universities while in Germany.
2. Thwing, 140-41. Of the 185 chemists of the National Cyclopaedia survey,
68 matriculated at German universities. In order of their popularity, the favor-
ite institutions of this group were the University of Berlin, the University of
Gottingen, Heidelberg University, Leipsig University, and the Freiberg Mining
Academy. Of the non-German universities, the University of Paris was the only
one which attracted significant numbers of American chemists, and it ran be-
hind Berlin, G6ttingen, and Heidelberg in order of popularity.
3. The reader should understand that what applied to the student of chemis-
try in the matter of German education usually applied to others as well. This
was certainly the case for the motivations behind German study, as it was for
the influence of German education on American students. Chemistry students
were no different from any other American students in their attitudes and re-
actions.
4. A. H. Baynes, "German Student Life," Fraser's Magazine, 104 (1881),
643.

14





THE GERMAN INFLUENCE
a level of chemical education that no American institution could
match. Some American chemists saw economic advantage in hav-
ing this more advanced German training. In the early 1850's Ben-
jamin Silliman, Jr., then professor of chemistry at the University of
Louisville, advised a former pupil to study in Germany if he
possibly could. A German education, Silliman told the younger
man, would open to him "the best places in the country," and
would "before you know it transmute the coppers in your breeches
pocket into gold."5 Serious students saw a chance for intellectual
adventure in Germany. A period of German study offered the in-
comparable opportunity to work under such masters of chemistry
as Friedrich Wohler at Gottingen, Heinrich Rose at Berlin, August
Kekul6 at Bonn, Justus von Liebig at Giessen and later Munich,
and Robert Bunsen at Heidelberg.
Whatever his reasons for going to Germany, the American
student found there a totally new way of life. Living amid a
culture much older than his own, he was especially charmed by
the smaller university towns, such as Gottingen and Heidelberg,
whose beautiful and accessible surroundings presented opportu-
nities for pleasant evening walks and holiday excursions.6
If the physical environment pleased the American student, he
had his reservations about German students. Their social groups,
the exclusive Korps and Burschenschaften, seemed to exist for no
other purpose than that of keeping alive the custom of dueling.
Although German youths claimed their sword-play built manliness
and self-reliance, Americans found it revolting.7 The heavy tippling
of German students, and the noisy ritual they made of it, seemed
particularly wicked to those youthful Americans reared to look
upon sobriety as a cardinal virtue.8 One youth, venturing to
Germany in the 1850's, nearly gave up hope of finding a com-
panion who did not indulge in the evils of "tobacco and intoxi-
5. February 1, 1854, to W. H. Brewer, Yale Memorabilia Collection, Yale
University Library.
6. Stephen M. Babcock, 19 May, 1878, to his mother, Box 2 of correspond-
ence, Stephen M. Babcock Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society Library,
Madison.
7. See Friedrich Paulsen, The German Universities, Their Character and
Historical Development (New York, 1895), 189-98; James M. Hart, German
Universities: A Narrative of Personal Experience, Together With A Comparison
of the German, English, and American Systems of Higher Education (New
York, 1874).
8. Harvey W. Wiley, Autobiography (Indianapolis, 1930), 137.

15





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
eating drinks, such as wine, lager beer, tea, [and] coffee."9
The American chemistry student's academic experience in Ger-
many was no less new and strange to him. Until the mid-1870's the
German university had no counterpart in the United States and
was an institution which rested upon ideas largely unknown in
American education. The first of these was the idea of Lernfreiheit,
or freedom of learning. In a German university the student could
select his faculty and lectures with complete freedom. As the
university had no taste for forced instruction, he was also free to
absent himself from his lectures if he so desired. Even in non-
academic matters the university exercised no control over the
student. There were no chapel services, the student could choose
his own place of lodging, and he was answerable only to himself
or to civil authorities for his conduct.10
The second foundation of the German university was the idea of
Lehrfreiheit, or freedom of teaching. Every member of the faculty,
whether an Ordentlicher (or full) professor, or a lowly, unsalaried
Privatdozent, had the right to teach "what he chooses, as he
chooses.""' The major implication of Lehrfreiheit was freedom from
state restraint, but the tradition of freedom of teaching ideally
made it possible for instructors to compete for the students of
established professors and served to bring forth the best from
every lecturer.12 The ultimate gainer was the student for he heard
lectures that were fresh and original.13
The third component of the German concept of a university was
the idea of original research, which colored every aspect of the aca-
demic routine. The research dissertation, above all else, decided the
fate of the applicant for the Privatdozent position.14 Academic ad-
9. Evan Pugh, October 31, 1953, to Mr. Editor, quoted in C. A. Browne,
"The European Laboratory Experiences of an Early American Agricultural
Chemist-Dr. Evan Pugh," Journal of Chemical Education 7 (1930), 500.
10. Paulsen, 201-11; Baynes, 630-32, 641. 11. Hart, 251.
12. Actually freedom from state restraint and competition among the faculty
were the ideal situations, and were not always attained in actual practice.
Prussia's 1819 Carlsbad Decrees and Bismarck's Kulturkampf of the 1870's
might be cited as examples of state policies which led to limitation of aca-
demic freedom. Regarding intrafaculty competition, at some universities the
Privatdozent did not encroach on a field already staked out by an instructor
of a higher grade. See George Hempt, "Instruction in German and American
Universities," The Nation, 50 (1890), 241-42.
13. Hart, 270-71.
14. United States Bureau of Education, The University of Bonn (Circu-
lar number 3, Washington, 1882), 27.


16





THE GERMAN INFLUENCE
vancement hinged also on research ability.15 As one American noted,
no German teacher "contents himself with merely attending to his
classes, and sitting down at ease after he has got them at work.
He is studying constantly himself; making original investigations
and publishing them to the world.""'
The American student soon found that research was central to
his activity in the German university. Mere acquaintance with a
body of knowledge was not enough. If he did not undergo a
"trial of his strength in independent research," no matter how dili-
gently he attended lectures and studied textbooks, he failed to meet
the German requirements.17
The first task of the student of chemistry was to master the
methods of science; he then had to apply those methods to at least
one of the unsolved problems in his field, pursuing it doggedly un-
til he could say to himself that "there is now nobody in the whole
world" who could "instruct him further on this matter."18
Evan Pugh was one of the thousand-odd American chemistry
students who sought advanced training in German universities.
Pugh, later president of the Pennsylvania Agriculture College (the
forerunner of Pennsylvania State College), went to Germany in the
middle 1850's. One of the laboratories in which he worked was
that of Professor Friedrich Wohler at Gottingen. Pugh, like all of
Wohler's students, greatly revered the homely, humble master
of chemistry. "To no man living," he remarked, "does the science of
chemistry owe as much for the facts it embraces as to Professor
W6hler." Yet one could not find a more unostentatious man. Wohl-
er's "goodness of . heart," Pugh said, even surpassed his "sim-
plicity of manners." W6hler took a deep interest in his students,
spending almost his entire day going "amongst them with his old
coat and little cap on," to check the progress of their research.19
When a student's project bogged down, Wohler was "a most splen-
did man to suggest courses that will probably lead to results."20
Professor Wohler did everything possible to facilitate his students'
research. All equipment and chemicals in the laboratory were at
15. Paulsen, 131; G. Stanley Hall, "Research the Vital Spirit of Teaching,"
The Forum, 17 (1894), 569.
16. Evan Pugh, October 31, 1853, to Mr. Editor, quoted in Browne, 500.
17. Paulsen, 199.
18. Evan Pugh, October 31, 1853, to Mr. Editor, quoted in Browne, 500.
19. Evan Pugh, c. 1855, to Mr. Editor, quoted in Browne, 505.
20. July 28, 1855, letter to S. W. Johnson, quoted in Browne, 504.

17





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
the student's disposal. When the pupil needed a special piece of
apparatus made to order, the laboratory assistants fashioned it al-
most immediately. If a student broke a piece of apparatus by care-
lessness, he had to pay two-thirds of its value; but if "you break it
by unforeseen . explosion," Pugh said, "you pay nothing." Once,
an explosion during one of Pugh's experiments totally demolished
the equipment he was using. The blast brought Wohler in from his
lecture to learn the cause. On hearing Pugh's account of the mis-
hap, the professor concluded that such an explosion could have
happened to him as well, so the laboratory had to pay.21
Pugh was "well satisfied" that he came to Wohler's laboratory.
The students were all advanced, and they worked with great
seriousness of purpose. For "pure chemistry" Pugh found Gottingen
"the place of places."22 There was "no other laboratory," in Pugh's
opinion, "where more work, original work, or at least work on rare
organic and inorganic substances is done than just here."23
American scholars returned to the United States eager to im-
pose the German research tradition on American scientific educa-
tion. Such was the aim of George J. Brush, who returned to accept
a post at the Yale Scientific School. Writing in 1855 to S. W. John-
son, who would join him at New Haven, Brush expressed confidence
that "we shall be able to make things move when we return home.
We'll see whether we cannot revive things and inspire some new
life in the School."24
German-trained chemists who returned to the United States be-
tween the 1850's and the 1870's found few opportunities to trans-
late their idealism into action. Many young enthusiasts had experi-
ences similar to that of the Williams College chemistry professor
who, upon petitioning the college president for a research labora-
tory, was told, "You will please keep in mind that this is a college
and not a technical school. The students who come here are not
to be trained as chemists or geologists or physicists. . The object
aimed at is culture, not practical knowledge."25 German-trained
chemists found a larger provision for instruction in their field in
21. Ibid.
22. August 2, 1857, to S. W. Johnson, quoted in Browne, 510.
23. July 23, 1855, to S. W. Johnson, quoted in Browne, 504.
24. 'May 13, 1855, quoted in Elizabeth Osborne, From the Letter Files of
Samuel W. Johnson (New York, 1918), 90.
25. Quoted in Frederick Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (Easton, Penn-
sylvania, 1940), 42.

18





THE GERMAN INFLUENCE
the scientific schools and departments, but these institutions were
for the most part devoted to training practical chemists, not re-
search men. According to Nicholas Murray Butler, the rapid growth
of technical schools was the "main obstacle to the full establishment
in America of the pursuit of science for its own sake."26
Although devotees of the German research idea had only a
limited field of action, time worked in their favor. Each year
brought to the United States a new crop of German-trained scholars
who favored reform in American higher education. In 1875 Andrew
Ten Brook, University of Michigan Librarian, surveyed the Ameri-
can educational scene with optimism. While noting that the
United States was still without a true university, he felt that the
time for the establishment of one was near at hand. "We have a few
great schools," he said, "which have outgrown the rank of the col-
lege, and can at once be advanced to that of the university when
their governing powers so determine." If just one institution made
the movement toward advanced training and research, Ten Brook
felt, "others will follow."27
A year after Ten Brook's remarks America's first university, in
the German sense, made its appearance. Contrary to Ten Brook's
expectations, it did not emerge in New Haven, Cambridge, or Ann
Arbor. The distinction, instead, went to Baltimore. The Johns
Hopkins University was able to play an innovating role in Ameri-
can higher education because its benefactor gave his money almost
without condition, leaving the institution's future in the hands of a
board of trustees. Those trustees, in turn, sought the counsel of a
group of university presidents who were under heavy debt to Ger-
many for their ideas on higher education. The most fertile piece of
advice offered to the trustee group was the suggestion that they
tender the presidency of the Johns Hopkins to Daniel Coit Gilman,
then head of the University of California and formerly professor of
political economy at the Sheffield Scientific School.
Gilman's response to the Hopkins offer foretold the course that
the new university would take. He advised the trustees that if they
intended to establish just "another college," their offer "would not
interest him." On the other hand, if they wanted to establish a uni-
versity which could bring together the best professors and the most
advanced students, one which could "extend its influence . .
26. Introduction to Paulsen, xxiii.
27. American State Universities (Cincinnati, 1875), 822-23.
19





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
throughout the land," he would readily accept the Hopkins presi-
dency. The trustees assented to Gilman's terms, and the new
president began at once the work of gathering his faculty. In his
men he looked first and foremost for the ability to "pursue in-
dependent and original investigation."28
Gilman placed the chemistry department under the direction of a
man ideally suited for the job of building a chemistry program on
the German model. Ira Remsen was thoroughly exposed to German
ideas and methods, having studied at Munich under Liebig and at
Gottingen with Wohler and his assistant, Rudolph Fittig. Moreover,
he had already proven himself an able researcher by the time he
came to Baltimore, having published ten papers while in Germany
and an equal number afterwards in the United States. Harmon
Morse, another Gottingen scholar, became Remsen's able assistant
at the Johns Hopkins.29
Remsen devised a course of study which would "encourage the
most advanced work," and would develop a "true spirit of investiga-
tion" in his students.30 In lecture courses Remsen and his associates
offered training in the fundamentals of chemistry, but they took
care to remind students that textbooks were only to be used as
guides to instruction. The student was to stay abreast of new devel-
opments reported in chemical journals. To make students aware of
current research, Remsen held bi-weekly journal seminars at which
students reported on recent publications. Besides serving to call the
students' attention to important new research, these sessions sharp-
ened their critical faculties and helped them to improve their
writing ability.81
The central feature of Remsen's chemistry program was labora-
tory instruction. Its aim was to give the student "a thorough knowl-
edge of the pure science of Chemistry, and its methods."32 Before
Remsen allowed students to undertake research projects they had
to demonstrate an ability to handle basic experimental manipula-
28. Daniel Coit Gilman, The Launching of a University (New York, 1906),
37-43; see ibid., 7, 27, 28.
29. Getman, 31; W. A. Noyes and J. F. Norris, "Ira Remsen," National
Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 14 (1932), 210-13, 230; The
Johns Hopkins University, Official Circulars (number 5, September, 1876),
1-3; Ira Remsen, "Harmon N. Morse," National Academy, Memoirs, 21
(1926), 1-2.
30. Johns Hopkins University, Official Circulars (no. 8, April, 1877), 3.
31. Getman, 55-56.
32. Johns Hopkins Circulars (no. 8, April, 1877), 3.

20





THE GERMAN INFLUENCE


tions. Scholars quickly learned that Remsen and Morse were stick-
lers for thoroughness. One student, determined to get the prelimi-
nary work behind him as quickly as possible, hastily ran an analysis
and took his findings to Morse for approval. Then came the rude
awakening: Morse, the "big, kindly soft-spoken man . gave me
to understand very gently but very firmly that approximate results
did not suffice-I was to do the work over and over again until
exact and consistent findings were obtained."33
After proving his familiarity with basic procedure, the Hopkins
student had the opportunity of performing an investigation. Rem-
sen set high standards for this work. He let the student know that
he would not accept as a research dissertation "a mere compilation,
such as could be worked up in a good library." What Remsen
wanted was "a discussion of some problem on the basis of experi-
ments undertaken by the candidate for the purpose."34
Little applied research came out of Remsen's laboratory. He felt
that investigation in pure chemistry, no matter how remote, was
the best basis of preparation, whether "the student has in view a
practical or a scientific object."35 Hopkins students found every-
thing they needed to facilitate their experimentation: technical
journals, special equipment, and experienced counsel. But Remsen
and Morse did not spoon-feed their pupils. Aiming to build self-
reliance in their scholars, the two professionals, after outlining each
research problem thoroughly, left the budding investigators pretty
much to their own devices.36
Remsen's success in building a chemistry department which
could turn advanced scholars into independent investigators was
representative of the success of other Hopkins professors. The col-
lective achievement of such men as Ira Remsen in chemistry,
Henry Rowland in physics, Basil Gildersleeve in Greek, J. J. Sylves-
ter in mathematics, and Herbert Baxter Adams in history came to
be known as "the Hopkins example"; in the 1880's and 1890's this
example carried the American graduate school experiment to com-
pletion. In those two decades old and new institutions alike or-
ganized formal departments of graduate instruction patterned after
the John Hopkins University. In 1882 Yale College organized a
graduate department, and five years later the University of Penn-
33. Statement of Dr. W. H. Howell, quoted in Remsen, 9.
34. Johns Hopkins Circulars (no. 8, April, 1877), 3.
35. Ibid. 36. Ibid., 2, 4; Getman, 69.
21





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
sylvania made its philosophy department a separate graduate
school. Before the close of the century many state institutions, such
as the universities of Michigan and Wisconsin, likewise set up de-
partments of graduate instruction.7.
While the graduate school movement was in progress, American
chemistry students continued to seek advanced training in Ger-
many. But the American university Ph.D. was so gaining in prestige
that in the last decade of the century at least as many American
chemists took theirs at such institutions as the Johns Hopkins,
Yale, Harvard, Michigan, Columbia, and Chicago as earned the
degree in the universities of Germany.38 In 1905 a policy decision
of the University of Berlin ended the qualitative distinction be-
tween German and American education in chemistry. In that year
the Berlin faculty announced that graduate work in chemistry, or
in any other field, done in member institutions of the Association
of American Universities, would be accepted as equal to work done
in residence in any German university."9 By the turn of this century
American chemists had a system of education equal to any in the
world. Not only did this system disseminate existing knowledge; it
also trained American workers to add to that body of knowledge.

37. See Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University (New
York, 1962), 335; Edward Potts Cheyney, History of the University of Penn-
sylvania (Philadelphia, 1940), 296-98; Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, Prince-
ton, 1746-1896 (Princeton, 1946), 379.
38. In 1900 the American Chemical Society polled the small colleges to find
out how many of their students still sought advanced training from German
universities. The results of the poll showed that students invariably took their
graduate training in the large American universities (American Chemical So-
ciety, Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the American Chemical Society [Easton,
Pennsylvania, 1902], 135-36). The Survey of American chemists in the Na-
tional Cyclopaedia showed that of the chemists who took their graduate train-
ing either in Germany or America (but not in both places) in the 1880's,
the German-trained students exceeded the American-trained students by nine
to five; in the 1890's, however, the lead was reversed, with the American-
trained students outnumbering those trained in Germany by eight to five.
39. "An Educational Entente," The Nation, 80 (1905), 185.


22





3. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION:
THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES

P rior to the middle 1870's American chemists had no national
organization of their own, nor had any attempt been made to
establish one. Many societies, such as the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, existed in support of science in gen-
eral, and within such groups there were places for chemistry. But
chemists were ready for a professional home of their own: the num-
ber of practitioners of the science was increasing rapidly; chemistry
was an academic specialty in leading institutions of higher learn-
ing; and chemists recognized special needs and problems.'
American professionals saw much to be gained from having their
own national organization. Such a body could organize the man-
power required to solve many technical problems in the science,
and the adoption of changes in chemical practice by a national so-
ciety would carry enough weight to gain the acceptance of all
practitioners. In the 1870's American workers lacked a system for
indexing the literature. There was no uniformity in analytical meth-
ods, and the absence of exactness in atomic weight standards es-
pecially plagued chemists. A national organization offered the hope
of solving each of those problems.
Chemists eager to build their profession on the German model
also saw in a national society a means of widening their field of
influence. National meetings would give leaders an opportunity to
make the teaching of chemistry more uniform, to stimulate the re-
search of less active workers, and generally to impose higher stand-
ards of performance on the whole body of American chemists.
Chemists took the first steps toward organizing their science in
the early 1870's. In 1873 at the close of the American Association
meeting, a small group of men, including Frank Clarke of Cincin-
nati University and Harvey W. Wiley of Northwestern Christian
University (later Butler University), met to consider a separate or-
ganization for chemistry within the association. At that time the
association mixed chemists with astronomers, mathematicians, and
physicists, and the hectic schedule of the annual gathering gave
chemists no time to meet separately. To remedy that situation
Clarke, Wiley, and other conferees drafted a petition, calling
1. American Chemical Society, Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the American
Chemical Society (Easton, Pennsylvania, 1902), 25-33.
23





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
on the 1874 session to create a permanent section of chemistry.2
Prior to the 1874 association meeting, another event took place
which was significant in the establishment of a national organiza-
tion. In early August chemists gathered to celebrate what they
called the Centennial of Chemistry. The idea originated with
Henry C. Bolton, professor at the Columbia School of Mines. In an
open letter to the American Chemist, Bolton reminded his associ-
ates that 1774, the year of Priestley's discovery of oxygen, marked
the birthdate of modem chemistry. Would it not, Bolton asked, "be
an agreeable event if American chemists should meet on the first
day of August, 1874, at some pleasant watering place to discuss
chemical questions, especially the wonderfully rapid progress of
chemical science in the past hundred years?" Professionals con-
curred that it would be agreeable, and the Centennial was a huge
success. Scientists from fifteen states and Canada met and heard
addresses on the progress of chemistry and the contributions of
American workers.
The enthusiasm engendered during that first nation-wide con-
ference of chemists led to a discussion of ways to continue the
spirit of the Centennial. At that point the idea of an independent
national chemical society made its first appearance. Although Cen-
tennial president Charles F. Chandler, editor of the American
Chemist, supported the suggestion, the idea met strong opposition.
The very size of the country, the wide dispersion of chemists, and
the lack of any professional identity among them, opponents of the
idea argued, would stunt the growth of an independent society.
After an earnest debate the Centennial delegates decided to drop
the idea of independent organization and endorse the plan for a
section of chemistry within the American Association.3
Two weeks later the association convened. Strengthened by sup-
port from the Centennial, the petition for a separate organization
of chemistry won the approval of the association's standing com-
mittee, and in the section of "Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Chemi-
cal Technology, Mineralogy, and Metallurgy," American workers
had their first national body.4
2. Ibid., 87; Wiley, Autobiography (Indianapolis, 1930), 217.
3. Benjamin Silliman, Jr., "American Contributions to Chemistry," The
American Chemist, 5 (1875), 70-114; see ibid., 195-209, 327-28; "Centennial
of Chemistry," ibid., 37-38, 41.
4. H. C. Bolton, "Address," Proceedings of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, 31 (1883), 229-55. E. F. Smith, Chemistry in

24





THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES


Although it suffered an initial rejection, the idea of an independ-
ent national society retained its vitality beyond the Centennial.
C. F. Chandler and a group of New York City chemists continued
interested in a separate society, and in January, 1876, they circu-
lated a letter among professionals calling for a city-wide association
"which would lead to a better understanding and a closer acquaint-
ance among its members."
The response to the January letter was so heartening that the
New York City organizers decided to broaden their plan and call
for the establishment of a national body. Accordingly, in March,
1876, a second letter went forth to chemists in all parts of the
United States. In that circular Chandler stated in clear terms the
benefits to be gained from independent national organization: such
action, he said, "would prove a powerful and healthy stimulus to
original research among us, and . would awaken and develop
much talent now wasting in isolation, besides bringing the mem-
bers of the association into closer union, and ensuring a better ap-
preciation of our science and its students on the part of the general
public."6 Within two weeks chemists from seventeen states regis-
tered enthusiastic support of the idea. On the strength of that re-
sponse the committee called an organizational meeting, and a mo-
tion creating the American Chemical Society passed with but a
few dissenting votes.7
The optimism of the organizational meeting continued into suc-
ceeding months. One by one the leading names in American
chemistry appeared on the society's rolls. The chemical society also
attracted such vigorous young professionals as Harvey Wiley, Frank
Clarke, and Ira Remsen. By 1877 the society was meeting monthly,
publishing its proceedings, and showing its intention to be an ac-
tive professional force. Despite the doubts registered at the Cen-
tennial, the nation's chemists gave every indication that they did
not need the shelter of an established association. They could sup-
port their own society.8
America (New York, 1914), 78, 246-52; C. A. Browne, "History of Chemical
Education," 1820-1870," Journal of Chemical Education, 9 (1932), 9, 718;
"Scientific Intelligence," American Journal of Science, 9 (1875), 397.
5. C. F. Chandler, et al., "Letter of January 22, 1876," Proceedings of the
American Chemical Society, 1 (1877), 5.
6. Chandler, et al., "Letter of March 22, 1876," 5-6.
7. "April Meeting of the ACS," Proceedings, ACS, 1 (1877), 7-8, 9-13.
8. ACS, 25th Anniversary, 45-57; Proceedings ACS, 1 (1877), 1-252.

25





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
In the ten years between 1877 and 1887, the chemical section of
the American Association for the Advancement of Science pros-
pered. Meeting separately during annual association gatherings,
chemists had a chance to concentrate on the work of their dis-
cipline. The migratory meetings of the association brought workers
from nearly all areas of the nation together within the chemistry
section and enabled individuals to see their work as a part of a
national effort. Within the first decade after its establishment, the
section became a leading voice in professional matters.9
By contrast, the first decade of the American Chemical Society
was a dismal one. After its strong start the society began to stum-
ble. Influential chemists working outside the New York City area
began to lose interest and leave the society. In 1877 Frank Clarke
resigned, just two months after joining. By 1881 Remsen and Wiley
had withdrawn.10 A chief reason for their desertion was the in-
creasing local orientation: the society was becoming more and more
a New York City club, controlled by local members and existing
only for their benefit. Although its organizers promised at least one
meeting per year outside the city, the pledge was soon forgotten."1
Harvey Wiley summed up the dissatisfaction of non-New York
chemists: the sole benefit he received from the society, he said,
was simply a receipt for his annual dues.12
Dissatisfaction with the official publication of the society was an
added reason for its decline. In 1879 the Journal of the American
Chemical Society appeared, filling the void left by the discontinu-
ance of C. F. Chandler's American Chemist. The Journal, however,
was an inferior substitute.13 This was largely because of the financial
problems of the society. In 1880 the editor issued a statement to all
subscribers announcing the interruption of monthly publication be-
cause of "failure of members to pay promptly their annual dues."
9. ACS, 25th Anniversary, 86-98; Proceedings AAAS, 25-37 (1876-1888).
10. Charles Albert Browne, and Mary Elvira Weeks, A History of the
American Chemical Society (Washington, 1952), 27; George F. Barker,
"Address," Proceedings AAAS, 25 (1877), 86; Proceedings ACS, 1 (1879-80),
1; "Proceedings of the ACS," Journal of the American Chemical Society,
3 (1881), 1.
11. Chandler, et al., "Letter, March 22, 1876," Proceedings ACS,
1 (1877), 6.
12. "Proceedings of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists,"
Division of Chemistry, United States Department of Agriculture (Bulletin 24,
1890), 66.
13. Browne, "Chemical Society of Washington," Journal of the Washington
Academy, 28 (1938), 235-37.
26





THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES
Henceforth, he said, "the Journal will appear at such intervals as
papers received and funds on hand will warrant."14
The appearance of splinter organizations confirmed the fact that
the society's authority was fading. The Chemical Society of Wash-
ington, founded in 1884 and made up of capital city professionals,
was one such group. The appeal of the New York society was so
weak in Washington that by 1887 every American Chemical So-
ciety member in that city resigned and joined the local body.15
By the end of the 1880's, society influence was at its lowest ebb.
Even staunch New York City supporters had to face the obvious:
their organization had no valid claim to the title of national spokes-
man. The plans of the founders to make the society an instrument
of national unity seemed impossible to fulfill.
In the midst of that disintegration, however, a movement was
afoot to convert the American Chemical Society into a truly na-
tional body. By 1888 a group of chemists within the American As-
sociation were giving another look at the idea of an independent
national organization. Although pleased with their representation
within the association, those professionals saw simply that chemis-
try was outgrowing it. By the late 1880's there were well over 2,000
chemists in the country, and yet only 200 of them maintained active
membership in the American Association.'6 Though influential in the
profession, the association section was not inspiring the active par-
ticipation of rank-and-file chemists. Nor was it likely to do so, being
a noncontinuing organization which gathered once a year for a
week's meeting and then disbanded. What the reforming chemists
wanted was an active society whose organization enabled it to tap
the interest of every worker in America.
Unlike the first effort to establish an independent national so-
ciety, the second was an unqualified success, due chiefly to the
persistence, strategy, and tact of two Washington, D. C., profes-
sionals, Frank Clarke (then with the Geological Survey) and
Harvey Wiley (of the Department of Agriculture). Quite a strange-

14. "Notice," Journal ACS, 1-2 (1879-80), back leaf.
15. Browne, "Dr. Thomas Antisell and his Associates in the Founding of the
Chemical Society of Washington," Journal of the Washington Academy, 28
(1938), 223-25; Browne, "Chemical Society of Washington," 236.
16. "Proceedings AOAC," Division of Chemistry, Bulletin 24 (1890), 67;
Browne, "Chemical Society of Washington," Journal of the Washington Acad-
emy, 28 (1938), 240-41. The 1880 census listed a total of 2,000 chemists in
the country, according to Clarke in his address before the AOAC.
27





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
looking team was this Clarke-Wiley combination. Wiley, a giant
hulk of a man, possessed the brash self-confidence of one who
thrived on controversy. His reputation for dramatic utterance and
his prodigious appetite-a ten-course meal gave him no difficulty-
were legendary in Washington. Wiley used to claim he was like
the moon: "the fuller I am the brighter I shine." The chemical
group in the Department of Agriculture was devoted to its chief.
As one associate put it, Wiley commanded loyalty by the "sheer
force of a marvelous personality."17 Clarke, by contrast, attracted no
attention by his girth. He was thinly framed and little more than
five feet tall. His quiet, retiring manner seldom made him the center
of attention, and associates remembered that even his laugh was
subdued: "A sort of hissing snicker was the best he could manage."
If Clarke was popular with those who worked for him, this was
not so because he conquered his co-workers, but because he left
them alone.18 Both he and Wiley, however, possessed equal meas-
ures of organizational talent, as was demonstrated by their maneu-
vers to establish a strong national society for their profession.
By 1889 American chemists were generally willing to make an-
other attempt at forming a national society. The big obstacle was
finding the right basis for organization. In an attempt to solve that
problem the American Association chemists asked Clarke to head a
group to study possible plans for a new society. Already serving as
chairman of a similar committee within the Chemical Society of
Washington, Clarke had considered the subject of organization
thoroughly and had a definite plan in mind. His position as spokes-
man for two of the most influential chemistry groups gave him the
authority to gain a hearing for his scheme.19
Clarke had conferred with Wiley on his plan of organization
and the two were in close agreement, deciding that the first step
should be the introduction of the plan at some professional gather-
ing. On that matter Wiley was in a position to help. In early fall,
1889, the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists was to hold
its annual meeting. That large body of state, federal, and university
chemists also had a committee on a new chemical society, and
17. W. W. Skinner, et al., "Obituary on H. W. Wiley," Journal of the
Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, 14 (February 15, 1931), xvii.
18. Albert A. Martin, "The Great Analysis," The Capital Chemist, 3 (April,
1953), 113.
19. "Report of the Committee of Conference on Organization of a National
Chemical Society," Proceedings AAAS, 38 (1890), 35-38; 39 (1891), 139.

28





THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES
Wiley was its chairman. It was an easy matter for him to arrange
Clarke's appearance on the program.
What American chemists needed, Clarke told the agricultural
group, was an organization patterned after the British Society of
Chemical Industry. Established in 1881, that society was a federa-
tion of active local chemical groups, each established in a major
industrial center. The federal scheme, Clarke asserted, prevented
concentration of control in one locale, which characterized the
American Chemical Society. Not only did the United States have
enough chemical centers to support local sections, but the vastness
of this country made the British plan especially suitable. "By such
a system," he explained, "every member of the Society could be
within comparatively easy reach of some one section, while at the
same time all would be likely to get the worth of their subscription
fees in a journal which should be a common medium for all."20
After the plan was in the open, Clarke and Wiley tried to get
tangible expressions of support for their scheme. If they could ma-
neuver the issue of organization into channels of their own choosing,
any fight that might develop over a new association would center
around their plan and not some other. Seizing the initiative, they
drafted a circular, outlining their concept for a new organization
(which they named the Continental Chemical Society) and sent
it to chemists all over the country, with requests for their opinions
on it.21
When the replies began to come in, the two Washington chemists
were gratified to see an overwhelming vote of approval for the Con-
tiental Society idea. They planned to use the replies to force the
American Chemical Society to step aside for the creation of the new
national body. By the summer of 1890, however, the American
Chemical Society had done the unexpected. Fearing that Clarke
and Wiley's efforts would put an end to their work to build a na-
tional society, the New York City chemists reshaped their consti-
tution to provide for local sections and migratory annual meetings.
In an attempt to head off the establishment of a new association,
the society had turned itself into a group that closely resembled
the one for which the reformers were calling.22
20. "Proceedings AOAC," Division of Chemistry Bulletin 24 (1890), 67-68.
21. "Report of the Committee of Conference on Organization of a National
Chemical Society," Proceedings AAAS, 39 (1891), 139-42.
22. "Fellows of the AAAS," Proceedings AAAS, 39 (1891), lxxvi; Browne
and Weeks, American Chemical Society, 458.

29





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
Clarke and Wiley saw that they must give recognition to the
New York group's attempts at reform, for disregarding the society's
claims to be the national spokesman would only create bitterness
that would hamper a new association. Accordingly, they sought to
arrange a compromise with the New York body. From August,
1890, to August, 1891, they met with agents of the New York
group as well as with committees of the other chemical organiza-
tions.23 Finally, in August, 1891, the conferees reached a settlement.
The New York chemists agreed to yield all claims of national au-
thority and to reorganize themselves as a local section of the new
society. In return, the new organization would retain the name of
the old and continue its journal.24 Representative of the new unity
among American chemists was the election of Harvey Wiley as first
president of the revitalized American Chemical Society.25
By the end of the century the society was fulfilling every expec-
tation. Some 1,700 chemists held membership in 13 local sections.
The sections met monthly and the national body twice a year. In a
1901 appraisal of the society, its secretary said that the combination
of local and general meetings gave members not only "an oppor-
tunity of close personal acquaintance with one another, and a bet-
ter knowledge of the work done by the great body of chemists,"
but also "a keener insight into the Science of Chemistry and the
best means of advancing it."26
Although the firm establishment of an independent society of
chemists had to await the 1890's, the nation's professionals reaped
the benefits of organization even while they were seeking a better
form of association. Their American Association section, especially,
enabled chemists to establish those personal contacts which so
stimulated their professional efforts. Meetings facilitated an ex-
change of ideas and techniques which provided chemists with fresh
insights into their work. Each man became more closely acquainted
with others in his field, and with this closer accord came the desire
23. "Report of the Committee of Conference on Organization of a National
Chemical Society," Proceedings AAAS, 39 (1891), 140; also see 139; "The
Philadelphia General Meeting," Journal ACS, 12 (1890), 80.
24. "The Philadelphia General Meeting," Journal ACS, 13 (1891), 8;
Browne, "Chemical Society of Washington," Journal of the Washington Acad-
emy, 28 (1938), 240.
25. "Proceedings ACS," Journal ACS, 13 (1891), 227; 14 (1892), 311;
Browne and Weeks, American Chemical Society, 38, 58.
26. "Report of the General Secretary of the ACS, 1901," quoted in Browne
and Weeks, American Chemical Society, 63.

30





THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES
to maintain the respect of one's fellows. Knowing that shoddy per-
formance would bring the disfavor of associates, each member
spurred himself to produce his best work.
Meetings also gave chemists the chance to make a united attack
on the technical problems in their science. In 1882 Professor H. C.
Bolton called his American Association colleagues' attention to the
need for an index of chemical literature. The growth of modem
chemistry, said Bolton, had brought such a multiplication of special
treatises that "mere acquaintance with their titles becomes a seri-
ous undertaking for busy workers in the laboratory." Having to
search for a particular point "throughout the maze of modem
chemical journals, transactions, treatises, and hand books," was both
time-consuming and frustrating for the researcher.27 Following Bol-
ton's suggestion, association chemists named an indexing commit-
tee, which by 1900 was providing guides to the whole range of
chemical literature.28
The national organizations gave continuing attention to the
problem of standardizing analytical methods. The Association of
Agricultural Chemists concentrated on bringing uniformity and ac-
curacy into the field of fertilizer analysis.29 In 1889 the American As-
sociation section participated in an international effort to set stand-
ards for iron and steel analysis, and in 1891 the American Chemical
Society sought a uniform test for water hardness.80
Professional organization was responsible, too, for reforms in
atomic weights. In 1893 the American Chemical Society asked
Frank Clarke to head a committee charged with the responsibility
of reviewing annually all the atomic weight research done by the
world's chemists. As a result of the committee's work, the society
was able to publish each year a revised atomic weight table, which
significantly aided the advance of chemical science.31
The national societies provided a forum from which the most in-
27. H. C. Bolton, "Address," Proceedings AAAS, 31 (1883), 249-50.
28. "Report of the Committee on Indexing the Chemical Literature," Pro-
ceedings AAAS, 31-39 (1883-91); "Scientific Intelligence," American Journal
of Science, 29 (1885), 61-62.
29. "Proceedings AOAC," Division of Chemistry Bulletin 7 (1885), 49.
30. J. W. Langley, "International Standards for the Analysis of Iron and
Steel," Proceedings AAAS, 38 (1890), 185; "Proceedings ACS," Journal ACS,
13 (1891), 109-10.
31. F. W. Clarke, "Report of the Committee on Determinations of Atomic
Weight, Published During 1893," Journal ACS, 16 (1894), 193. See also
179-93.


31





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
fluential and talented professionals sought to impose their patterns
of work on less able or less experienced members. Leading workers
urged their associates to give closer attention to published litera-
ture. At the 1879 American Association meeting Ira Remsen
charged that American chemists too often tried to blame poor re-
search records on inadequate apparatus or burdensome teaching
loads. The real reason for substandard performance was that they
were too lazy to read the literature.32 In 1893 Albert Prescott, Uni-
versity of Michigan chemist, reminded his American Chemical So-
ciety colleagues that a researcher could not even begin an original
investigation without knowing the literature, for he would have
no way of determining at what point the last researcher stopped.33
Teaching standards came out of the interchange of the national
professional meetings. In the 1880's, American Association chem-
ists held several sessions on instructional methods. Frank Clarke,
Ira Remsen, and Benjamin Silliman, Jr., participated in one teach-
ing seminar which discussed, among other things, the educational
benefits of laboratory work and its proper relation to the chemistry
lecture. In the 1890's, the association section created a regular ses-
sion of "Didactic Chemistry," in which leading members read papers
describing their methods of teaching a certain concept or branch
of chemistry. The long-term effect of such discussions was to stand-
ardize and, at the same time, upgrade the teaching of chemistry
in the United States.34
National society meetings served as a clearinghouse for American
research, for leading workers used the gatherings to give direction
to the research effort of their colleagues. In 1877, at the inaugural
session of the American Chemical Society, its president, New
York University chemist John W. Draper, called for increased study
of the spatial arrangement of atoms in chemical compounds and
reminded his associates that the "geometry of chemistry was that of
three dimensions, not of two."35 The next year Frank Clarke criti-
cized American Association chemists for giving too much time to
the static side of chemistry, synthesis and structure of compounds.
Urging more investigation of phenomena occurring during reaction,
32. "Address," Proceedings AAAS, 28 (1879), 213-18.
33. "The Immediate Work in Chemical Science," Proceedings AAAS, 41
(1893), 1-6.
34. "Proceedings of the Section of Chemistry of the AAAS," Science, 4
(1884), 321-22; "Contents," Proceedings AAAS, 44 (1896), v-vi.
35. "Science in America," Proceedings, ACS, 1 (1877) 144.
32





THE NATIONAL SOCIETIES
Clarke said that chemistry's greatest need was not for more un-
related data but for a grand theory that would relate existing in-
formation. To prepare to search for that theory, chemists should
immediately begin to calculate the physical constants of nature
(densities, boiling points, etc.).36 In 1882 J. W. Langley, University
of Michigan Professor, reinforced Clarke's message. Chemistry had
produced many branches, Langley held, but few grand hypotheses
which had stood the test of time. The science needed more work on
the dynamics of chemical reactions, and the Michigan professor
specifically urged his American Association colleagues to investigate
speeds of reactions.37
In the very nature of the projects suggested by the leading chem-
ists there was the implication of a standard for American research.
In all their recommendations, leading professionals made no effort
to guide American chemists toward investigations of an immediate
practical use. Rather, they recommended work on the spatial ar-
rangement of atoms, chemical constants, and reaction speeds, all
in the realm of basic research.

36. "Address," Proceedings AAAS, 28 (1879), 131-33
37. "Address," Proceedings AAAS, 33 (1884), 141-59.


33





4. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION:
NATIONAL JOURNALS

n 1818, in the first volume of his American Journal of Science,
Benjamin Silliman, Sr., of Yale wrote that "In every enlightened
country, men illustrious for talent, worth, and knowledge, are ar-
dently engaged in enlarging the boundaries of natural science; and
the history of their labors and discoveries is communicated to the
world chiefly through the medium of scientific journals. The utility
of such journals has become generally evident; they are the heralds
of science; they proclaim its toils and its achievements; they dem-
onstrate its intimate connection with the comfort, as with the in-
tellectual and moral improvement of our species; and they often
procure for it enviable honors and substantial rewards."' Silliman
was one of the first American chemists to perceive the importance
of publication media to the development of his profession, and in
the years from its founding through the 1860's Silliman's Journal
was the chief spokesman for chemistry in America.
The Journal served all the sciences, from anthropology to zool-
ogy. Though Silliman could devote only a portion of his pages to
any single field, the Journal promoted the interests of chemistry in
many ways. It brought a measure of public notice and recognition
to the efforts of American workers. Until the 1870's the Journal was
the major avenue of publication for active American chemists.2
Accepting only those applied and basic researches of high quality,
Silliman's periodical imposed a standard of competence on Ameri-
can investigation, and by its regularity of issue American profes-
sionals had the assurance that their researches would secure proper
credit in matters of priority.
Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz correctly described Silliman's
1. "Introduction," American Journal of Science, 1 (1818), 1.
2. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century the small group of
American researchers was led by such men as J. Lawrence Smith, Wolcott
Gibbs, M. Carey Lea, T. Sterry Hunt, Josiah P. Cooke, Eben Horsford, and
John W. Mallett. All these chemists, except Cooke, relied more heavily on the
American Journal of Science and Arts than any other publication, European
or American, as a vehicle for getting their researches into print. For evidence
of this reliance on the New Haven Journal, see the National Academy of
Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 2 (1886), 239-48, for Smith; 7 (1913), 19-22,
for Gibbs; 5 (1905), 204-8, for Lea; 15 (1934), 221-37, for Hunt; 4 (1902),
181-82, for Cooke. For Horsford and Mallett, see Benjamin Silliman, Jr.,
"American Contributions to Chemistry," American Chemist, 5 (1875), 107.


34





NATIONAL JOURNALS
Journal as the main channel through which European research
reached the New World.3 But Agassiz was only half right. The
channel carried information eastward as well: going to libraries in
England, France, and Germany, the New Haven periodical kept
foreign workers appraised of American investigations in chemistry
and every other science.
Silliman's Journal was not the only American publication whose
pages were open to the chemical researcher. In the 1850's and
1860's many other general science publications, such as the Journal
of the Franklin Institute, gave some notice to chemical investiga-
tion.4 None of the others, however, featured it as did Silliman's
periodical. Researches also appeared in journals not primarily de-
voted to science. In 1848 Samuel W. Johnson, soon to be at Shef-
field Scientific School, published an article in the agricultural organ,
Cultivator. Some ten years later Charles F. Chandler placed his re-
port on alcohol fermentation in a most unlikely journal, the maga-
zine Biblical Temperance.5
Prior to the 1870's the only purely chemical journals were those
published in Europe; among them, German periodicals occupied
the front rank. American chemistry students attending the Ger-
man universities in the 1850's and 1860's saw at first hand the close
connection between periodicals and German pre-eminence in
chemical research. Their plan to reform chemistry in the United
States along German lines included a wish to have American jour-
nals equal in quality to the German periodicals. But desire alone
was not enough to effect the transformation, and their early in-
ability to carry out reforms sorely frustrated the German-trained
students. In 1857 Samuel Johnson of the Yale Scientific School
wanted to know what was "the matter, that with all our enterprise
and reputed keenness in foreseeing every event that promises
profit, we allow the slow Old World to keep out of sight ahead of
us on this track [toward original research]."6
3. Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, Louis Agassiz, His Life and Correspondence
(2 volumes, Boston, 1886), 2:418-14.
4. For a survey of the place of publication for American chemical research
prior to 1874, see Silliman, Jr., 70-114.
5. T. B. Osborne, "Samuel W. Johnson," National Academy of Sciences,
Biographical Memoirs, 7 (1918), 216; M. T. Bogert, "Charles F. Chandler,"
National Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 14 (1932), 179.
6. From an editorial by Johnson in Country Gentleman; quoted in Elizabeth
A. Osborne, From the Letter Files of Samuel W. Johnson (New Haven, 1918),
118.


35





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
American chemists could not hope to have chemical journals
equal to those of Germany, however, until the American profession
underwent other changes. Scientific publication media were inti-
mately tied to general progress in science and could not precede
it. Journals, once established, were the instigators of scientific ad-
vance, but their establishment was also the result of this advance.
The appearance of chemical journals had to await, for one thing, a
greater degree of specialization among practitioners. Until there
was a body of workers who thought of themselves as chemists,
rather than jack-of-all-trades scientists, a chemical journal could not
command strong support. Furthermore, a journal could not thrive
in an educational system that gave no encouragement to chemical
work. Until American chemists had the facilities and opportunities
to engage in research, they could not make contributions sufficient
to fill the pages of a journal. In the 1850's and 1860's a publication
of general scientific interest, such as Silliman's Journal, was not only
all American chemists needed; it was all they could hope to have.
But American chemistry was not standing still. In the 1850's and
1860's the scientific school movement was gaining momentum,
bringing greater opportunities for specialization and better facilities
for original work. One of the by-products of the movement was
America's first bona fide chemical journal, The American Chemist.
First appearing in 1870, its editors were brothers Charles F. and
William H. Chandler. Both Chandlers were connected with scien-
tific schools-Charles with the Columbia College School of Mines,
and William with the science department of Lehigh University.
In announcing their publication the editors informed readers
that the American Chemist would serve both those workers en-
gaged in theoretical investigations and those devoted to applied
chemistry. The Chandlers also announced their determination to
expose "humbug" and "fraud" whenever they appeared in the
"guise of science." Speaking directly to American manufacturers,
the editors cautioned that hostility to science could only hurt indus-
trial interests, because the time was fast approaching when indus-
try would have to "invoke the aid of science." Concluding their an-
nouncement, the Chandlers appealed for manufacturers' support
and expressed the hope that "intimate relations may be established
between them and the scientific men who are capable of improving
their respective arts."7
7. "Announcement," American Chemist, 1 (1871), 1.
36





NATIONAL JOURNALS
The publication emphasized applied chemistry. Representative
contributions were those of William H. Chandler on commercial
production of bromine and iodine and of T. Sterry Hunt, Canadian
Geological Survey chemist, on the process of extracting copper
from its ores.8 The American Chemist did not exclude theoretical
material, however: the first volume contained a study of molecular
classification and a discussion of a new method for determining
alkali metals in silicates.9
Although not as strong a force for the promotion of basic re-
search as was Silliman's Journal, the American Chemist encouraged
professional interests more effectively than the general science
journals in other ways. The Chandlers were quick to defend Amer-
ican chemists in the face of any challenge. In 1870, when the Cali-
fornia State University dismissed a professor of chemistry without
offering him a bill of particulars, the American Chemist castigated
the university's trustees and charged that not even a "mill-owner
in New England would discharge his operatives without an expla-
nation of the cause of his actions."10 A year later when President
Eliot of Harvard discontinued advanced training in chemistry at the
Lawrence Scientific School, the Chandlers went into action again,
expressing great pain over Eliot's decision. "We trust," said the edi-
tors, that "no personal motives have influenced this decision," but
declared themselves at a loss to account "for this retrograde move-
ment of Harvard."'1
The American Chemist gave strong support to the budding move-
ment to establish an organization of chemists. In 1874, when the
idea of a Centennial of Chemistry was being discussed, the Ameri-
8. "The Production of Iodine and Bromine," ibid., 47-49; "Notes on . .
the Process for Extraction of Copper from its Ores," ibid., 199-200. A large
number of the articles in the American Chemist were reprints of ones which
appeared originally in the British publication, Chemical News. The American
Chemist had replaced an American supplement to the Chemical News, buying
its stock and subscription list; and throughout its existence, the American
Chemist relied on the Chemical News for a goodly portion of its material.
9. George F. Barker, "On Molecular Classification," ibid., 359-60; J. Law-
rence Smith, "Determination of Alkalies in Silicates by Ignition with Carbonate
of Lime and Sal Ammoniac," ibid., 404-7.
10. "The California State University," ibid., 224-25.
11. "The Lawrence Scientific School," ibid., 430. Some chemists speculated
that Eliot was acting on an old grudge when he took Gibbs' duties in chem-
istry away from him. In 1863 Eliot had hoped for the post of Rumford Professor
at the Lawrence Scientific School, but Harvard had passed Eliot by and chose
Gibbs to fill the post. Shortly after, Eliot resigned his Harvard tutorship in
chemistry, not to return until 1869, when he came back as president.

37





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
can Chemist gave it every encouragement. Following the gathering,
the Chandlers published a full account of the Centennial, including
the proceedings of each meeting and all major addresses.12
Although the American Chemist served the interests of chemists
very commendably, it failed to establish that rapport with American
industry which its editors saw as essential to its financial stability.
In 1877, after several years of operating at a loss, the Chandlers
had to give up their enterprise.13 Ironically, American manufactur-
ers, whose demands for a more practical education indirectly pro-
duced the journal, turned their backs on the American Chemist.
In the 1870's American industry, while demanding changes in
education, was not yet ready to accept chemistry, chemists, or
chemical publications as being essential to successful operation.
In 1877 American chemists were once again without a special-
ized journal. A decade earlier the absence of such a publication was
not critical, because workers found the general science periodicals
adequate to their needs. By 1877, however, with the increase in
research, general science journals no longer sufficed. In 1878 Frank
Clarke spoke to his American Association colleagues about the
problem of publications. American research, he said, was prolifer-
ating, but "how is all this material published? A little of it in the
American Journal of Science and Arts; a part in foreign periodicals;
another portion in several local transactions. . In short the work
is widely scattered; and some of it is effectually buried beyond the
reach of a majority of our fellow chemists." To bring this research
together, to stimulate inactive chemists, and to give the world
a truer picture of American standing in chemistry, professionals
needed a specialized journal. A new publication, Clarke urged,
must "take root somewhere, and that without much delay."14
In 1879 Clarke's suggestions bore fruit in the establishment of
two new professional journals. One of them, however, had a trou-
bled career. Although the American Chemical Society intended its
Journal to be a medium of communication for all the nation's
workers, a year after the appearance of the first issue its editor
had to suspend publication temporarily for want of sufficient funds
and articles.15
12. "Centennial of Chemistry," American Chemist, 4 (1874), 362; 5 (1875),
35-114, 195-209, 327-28.
13. "Sketch of C. F. Chandler," Popular Science Monthly, 16 (1880), 841.
14. "Address," Proceedings AAAS, 27 (1879), 141.
15. "Notice," Journal ACS, 1-2 (1879-80), back leaf.
38





NATIONAL JOURNALS
Throughout the 1880's problems of irregular publication con-
tinued, discouraging many investigators from using the Journal of
the American Chemical Society. Those who were active in basic
research, such as Charles Loring Jackson and Josiah Cooke of Har-
vard and Edward Williams Morley of Western Reserve Univer-
sity, had little regard for the journal and published very little in
it.16 Ira Remsen's attitude toward the periodical was probably rep-
resentative. During one of his publications seminars at the Johns
Hopkins, he spent considerable time pointing out the defects of the
Journal of the American Chemical Society to his students. "And
that," concluded Remsen, with evident disgust, slapping the publi-
cation down on the table, "that purports to be the official organ
of American chemistry."17
Had the society's Journal been the only specialized organ avail-
able, American chemists would have used it more. The year of its
establishment, however, witnessed the appearance of a far more
successful periodical. Edited by Ira Remsen, the American Chem-
ical Journal was a product of the graduate school movement in the
United States. The immediate and heavy flow of research which
came out of the Hopkins chemistry laboratory demanded an outlet.
At first Remsen tried to place the material in Silliman's Journal of
Science: but the "amount of material sent by me . frightened
the editor [James Dwight Dana]," who returned the Hopkins
articles with the suggestion that Remsen find some other place
for them, "as they seemed too highly specialized and voluminous
for a journal of general science."18 Remsen's only course, as he
saw it, was to establish his own publication."9
From the start the American Chemical Journal gave evidence
that it intended to be a force for basic research. In the first issue
appeared Wolcott Gibbs' article on the complex inorganic acids,
Samuel Penfield's (Sheffield Scientific School) paper on a new
method of determining fluorine, and Remsen's lengthy contribution

16. General Index to the First Twenty Volumes, 1879-1898, Journal of the
American Chemical Society (Easton, Pennsylvania, 1902), 1-237.
17. Quoted in William A. Noyes and Jack F. Norris, "Ira Remsen," National
Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 14 (1932), 248.
18. Quoted in Frederick H. Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (Easton,
Pennsylvania, 1940), 49.
19. While deliberating the possibilities of setting up his own journal, Remsen
placed the Hopkins research in the Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesell-
schaft. See Noyes and Norris, 230-31.

39





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
on oxidation of substituted aromatic hydrocarbons.20 Remsen's
Journal emphasized basic research as no prior American periodical
had done. Its book review and article abstracts sections seldom took
note of material from the applied chemistry field. By opening the
pages of his Journal to good graduate student research, Remsen
helped establish publication as one of the imperatives of graduate
work. In the 1890 volume, a representative one, student research
contributions appeared from the laboratories of Harvard, Michigan,
Clarke, Cornell, and Wesleyan universities.21
In the 1880's Remsen's Journal completely outclassed the Journal
of the American Chemical Society. Changes were in prospect,
however, which would radically reshape the latter publication.
With the reorganization of the American Chemical Society, its
journal finally became, as its founders intended it to be, a "clearing
house for chemical news, research, and progress in America."22 In
1893 society president Harvey Wiley took the first step toward re-
building the publication by securing Edward Hart as its editor.
Hart, owner of a financially successful journal of applied chem-
istry, agreed to discontinue his publication and issue to his sub-
scribers in its stead the near-defunct Journal of the American
Chemical Society.2s The Journal thus gained a ready-made base of
support, but the job of rebuilding was a tough one. Hart found
the publication six numbers behind schedule, with only two articles
on hand. But with Wiley soliciting papers and Hart editing and
printing them as fast as they came in, issues were soon appearing
on schedule.24
20. Gibbs, "On the Complex Inorganic Acids," American Chemical Journal,
1 (1880), 109; S. L. Penfield, "On a New Volumetric Method of Determining
Fluorine," ibid., 27-29; Ira Remsen, "On the Oxidation of Substitution Products
of Aromatic Hydrocarbons," ibid., 52-66.
21. The Johns Hopkins University, Register, 1878-79:14; 1880-81:52; Amer-
ican Chemical Journal, 12 (1890), 1-594; Noyes and Norris, 231-34. According
to Noyes and Norris' bibliography of Remsen's publications, the professor
and his students (together) published thirty-one papers in the American
Chemical Journal between the years 1879-1889.
22. Quoted in Charles A. Browne and Mary E. Weeks, A History of the
American Chemical Society (Washington, 1952), 62.
23. Hart's journal was similar in content to the American Chemist, begun
seventeen years earlier. The fact that The Journal of Analytical and Applied
Chemistry prospered while the American Chemist did not was partially due
to the fact that American industry, by the 1880's, was accepting the trained
chemist as an important factor in its operations.
24. Browne and Weeks, 454, 497-98; Edward C. Bingham, "Edward Hart,"
Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 5 (1923), 974-75.

40





NATIONAL JOURNALS
The rapidly growing society was able to offer firm support to its
Journal. In turn the publication offered a great deal to society
members. By the 1890's the research contribution of American
chemists had so increased that there was a real demand for another
specialized journal. The increasing devotion of Remsen's magazine
to the single field of organic chemistry heightened that need. Hart,
meantime, as editor of the society's journal, opened his pages to
both basic and applied investigations, in all branches of the
science.25
In 1897 the American Chemical Society's publication began
offering a service to American investigators that no prior periodical
had attempted. That year editor Hart began providing a sys-
tematic and concise annual summary of all research that American
workers had published during the year in any journal, chemical or
nonchemical, American or foreign. Such a review was long overdue,
for much American research continued to appear in nonprofessional
or foreign organs and thus failed to become incorporated in the
main body of literature. Hart's summary of chemical investigation
not only enabled American professionals to stay abreast of research
done by their colleagues, but it greatly enhanced the reputation of
American chemical work abroad.26
By the mid-1890's American chemists had at their disposal two
journals of national and international scope in which to record the
results of their work. The next ten years were to add the final
chapter in the development of a system of American chemical
publications. .Owing to the rapid growth of specialized branches of
chemistry, American workers in the science began to feel the need
for more highly specialized journals, and during this period they
took steps to establish them. In 1896 two Cornell University pro-
fessors, Wilder Bancroft and Joseph Trevor, 'established the Journal
of Physical Chemistry. Six years later a group of university and
industrial chemists founded the American Electro-chemical Society
whose Proceedings provided a place for research in this branch.
In 1906 J. J. Abel of the Johns Hopkins and C. A. Herter of New
York, two physiological chemists, began the publication of the
Journal of Biological Chemistry. These journals freed American

25. Browne and Weeks, 508; see "Index," American Chemical Journal,
7 (1886), iii-iv; 12 (1890), iii-vii; General Index to the First Twenty
Volumes, 1879-98, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1-237.
26. Browne and Weeks, 69.
41





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
chemists from a dependence on European, particularly German,
periodicals in the newer branches of chemistry. The founding of
these specialized American journals signified the attainment of
American self-sufficiency in chemical publication. And with their
establishment the American chemical profession severed the last
bond of dependency which tied it to Europe.27

27. The Journal of Physical Chemistry, 1 (1897), title page; Proceedings of
the American Electro-chemical Society, 1 (1902), title page; The Journal of
Biological Chemistry, 1 (1906), title page. Otto Folin, Harvard biochemist,
was characteristic of turn-of-the-century American chemists who no longer
had to rely on German journals after the establishment of the specialized
American publications. Up to the early 1900's Folin's research appeared largely
in the German Zeitschrift fuir physiologische Chemie, but beginning in 1907
Folin prepared most of his work for publication in the new Journal of
Biological Chemistry. See P. A. Shaffer, "Otto Folin," National Academy of
Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 27 (1952), 72-74.


42





5. THE CHEMIST AT WORK


TEACHING
The number of chemists in college, scientific school, and uni-
versity teaching positions in the last half of the nineteenth cen-
tury far exceeded the combined total in the other major employing
agencies, government and industry.1 Although the number of chem-
ists in America rose rapidly, from 465 in 1850 to nearly 9,000 in
1900, teaching positions in institutions of higher education expanded
to keep pace.2 While the individual chemist entering upon a teach-
ing career through this fifty-year period probably did not enjoy any
relative improvement in the number of posts open to him, this
period did bring significant changes in the demands made upon
him by educational institutions. His role within the institutions also
changed.
In the 1850's and 1860's the chemistry professor in the liberal
arts college seldom had specialized academic training for his work.
His usual credentials were a classical college diploma or a degree
from a medical school. The duties of the college chemist ordi-
narily extended to two or more disciplines, and his work consisted
largely of conducting lectures and recitations. Facilities for ex-
perimentation were almost nonexistent. If the professor of chem-
istry had his own laboratory he probably had to furnish it at his
own expense; seldom were faculty members as fortunate as Silas
Douglass, professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at the
University of Michigan, who tapped the largess of that institution
for $50 to equip a private laboratory.3
The experience of Ezra Carr at the University of Wisconsin was
broadly representative of those of other chemistry professors of
the 1850's and 1860's. Carr was a graduate of Rensselaer Poly-
technic Institute and the Castleton, Vermont, Medical College. In
1. A survey of chemists appearing in the National Cyclopaedia of American
Biography who entered upon their professional careers in the nineteenth cen-
tury showed that 140 of 180 chemists made teaching their life's work.
2. Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Occupations
at the Twelfth Census (Washington, 1904), xxxiv-xxxv.
3. Burke A. Hinsdale, History of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor,
1906), 113; Douglass, November 7, 1881, to Henry F. Frieze, Henry F. Frieze
Papers, Michigan Historical Collections of the University of Michigan.

43





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
1856 he joined the Wisconsin faculty. In appointing him to the
chair of chemistry and natural history the Wisconsin regents stated
that it would be Carr's duty to "render courses of instruction in
Chemistry and its applications, mineralogy, geology, the Natural
History of Plants and Animals and Human Physiology." Carr also
had the duty of maintaining the collections in the physical sciences,
and he was required "to make and publish meteorological observa-
tions."4 After a year of service Carr complained to the regents
that the teaching of science required peculiar means and methods,
and that if the university did not supply such means he could not
develop his subjects properly. To force the teaching of the sciences
to conform to the methods of other departments, Carr said,
"would be like requiring the Engineers to use the tools of the
watchmaker."5
Although such conditions prevailed generally in the 1850's and
1860's, improvements were in prospect through the scientific school
movement. The scientific schools and departments chose specialists
to man their faculties in each branch of science. The selection of
the specialist over the medical doctor or the graduate from a
classical college marked the beginning of a standard of preparation
for chemists in institutions of higher education. The scientific school
professor was usually no less burdened with teaching duties than
his brother in the classical college but, unlike the college chemist,
he did have the opportunity to work solely in his own field. Fur-
thermore, the scientific schools recognized the importance of labo-
ratory instruction and provided facilities for experimentation,
which the professor could use for his own work if he could find
time.
The second development of the 1850's and 1860's which affected
the position of the academic chemist was the movement for federal
support of technical education, which culminated in the passage
of the Morrill Act. Between 1862 and the end of the century 56
new institutions came into being as a result of the land-grant act.
Nearly all of them demanded the services of the professor of
chemistry.6 The quality of institutions created by the act was by
4. Carr, November 21, 1849, report to Regents, p. 13, Regents Records,
University of Wisconsin Library.
5. July 25, 1857, report to Regents, p. 141, Record Book "B," Regents
Records.
6. United States Bureau of Education, Report of the Commissioner of
Education, 2 (Washington, 1901), 1813-26.

44





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
no means uniform: many of the new institutions offered the college
chemist little opportunity to improve his position. The Florida
State College of Agriculture revealed its conception of science by
establishing a professorship of agriculture, horticulture, and Greek.7
Most land-grant institutions were unable to provide their early
faculties with adequate facilities and equipment because of their
precarious financial position. Federal funds proved inadequate to
meet the costs of technical education and, until the late 1880's,
state governments for the most part were unwilling to give supple-
mental support.8 But the Morrill Act did permit the establishment
of strong chemistry departments in many instances, and such de-
partments offered inviting opportunities to American chemists. In
1867 the newly organized Illinois Industrial University (later the
University of Illinois) used the state's grant to set up a program
which embraced full courses of analytical and practical chemistry.
The university proceeded immediately to build a laboratory and
hired a professor whose sole duties were in the field of chemistry.9
In the 1870's and 1880's, despite the improvements in profes-
sional position worked by the scientific school movement and the
land-grant act, most college chemists labored under a heavy teach-
ing burden, found little opportunity to specialize, and had to make
the most of inadequate facilities. At the University of Michigan,
one of the "better" institutions so far as science was concerned,
chemist John W. Langley reported that his instructional and other
duties made heavy demands on him. He complained that all of
his time "except that necessary for eating and studying and a
portion of the evenings was virtually given to university work."10
In the smaller colleges the professor of chemistry was in an even
worse position. In 1884 Lombard College (Illinois) sought a man
to teach "Chemistry, Physiology, Botany, Zoology, German, etc."
and specified that it wanted a "first rate man."" A young instructor
in analytical chemistry at Cornell, F. W. Rich, took the job, though
7. Richard Hofstadter and Dewitt Hardy, The Development & Scope of
Higher Education in the United States (New York, 1952), 40-41.
8. E. D. Ross, Democracy's College (Ames, Iowa, 1942), 98.
9. Illinois Industrial University, Report of the Committee on Courses of
Study & Faculty (1867), 5; IIU, Annual Register, 1870-71, 33.
10. John W. Langley Papers, 1875-76, Michigan Historical Collections of the
University of Michigan.
11. J. N. Standish, July 22, 1884, to Stephen M. Babcock, Box 2 of Corre-
spondence, Stephen M. Babcock Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society Library,
Madison.


45





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
skeptical about its possibilities. "If they include Greek, Sanskrit,
and Christian Ethics," said Rich, "I am afraid my qualifications
will not fill the bill."12 Soon Rich was thoroughly disgusted with
the position. Laboratory apparatus was almost nonexistent, and he
found it impossible to extract even $50 from the college for
equipment and chemicals.13
While F. W. Rich's troubles at Lombard College were character-
istic of those of most teaching chemists in the 1870's and 1880's,
conditions were steadily improving. There was a growing recog-
nition in leading institutions of the need for academic specializa-
tion. In 1876 University of Wisconsin President John Bascom
stated that superior instruction was not possible without a sub-
division of labor. Evidence that Bascom was able to translate this
view into action was the relief given to Professor W. W. Daniells,
whose experience illustrated what was happening on other cam-
puses. In 1868 Daniells began his Wisconsin career, responsible for
instruction in agriculture and analytical chemistry, but in 1879 the
university relieved him of all but his chemistry duties.14
The academic chemist continued to bring more specialized
training to his teaching duties. By the late 1860's the M.D. and
the man with the classical education began to hold fewer chem-
istry positions. In this same decade, men trained at American
scientific schools or in the German universities began to have first
claim on the most sought-for teaching posts.15 Faculty appoint-
ments at Cornell University in the period from the late 1860's to
the 1880's, revealed the demand for the chemist with specialized
training. When Cornell began instruction in 1868 its first two ap-
pointments in chemistry went to George Caldwell, Ph.D. from
Gottingen University, and James M. Crafts, a Lawrence Scientific
School graduate and student of several European universities. In
1869 Charles S. Shaeffer, a Gottingen Ph.D., received the third
12. August 6, 1884 to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
13. October 18, 1884, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
14. Merle Curti and Vernon Carstensen, The University of Wisconsin,
1848-1925 (2 volumes, Madison, 1945), 1:331; The University of Wisconsin
General Catalogue, 1849-83:11.
15. The National Cyclopaedia survey showed Albert Prescott to be the last
chemist trained as an M.D. to hold a college chemical position. Prescott re-
ceived an appointment in chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1864.
The last classical college graduate (with no further schooling in chemistry)
to hold a college teaching position was J. B. Herreshoff, who obtained an
appointment in chemistry at Brown in 1869.

46





THE CHEMIST AT WOtK
Cornell appointment, and the next year Chester Wing, Lawrence
Scientific School student, got the fourth.16
The 1870's and 1880's brought an increasing recognition from
college and university trustees that chemistry professors could not
operate effectively within the confines of the lecture-textbook-
recitation system of instruction. By the 1870's the laboratory
method, applied so successfully in a handful of colleges and sci-
entific schools earlier in the century, was used with increasing
frequency. By 1880 roughly one-half of the 343 colleges, univer-
sities, and scientific schools in the United States maintained lab-
oratories of some description for instruction in chemistry.17
Before the 1870's heavy teaching loads (even when all instruc-
tion fell into one discipline), with such other added tasks as moni-
toring student behavior, prevented American professors in all fields
of learning from doing much research. Men like Wolcott Gibbs
and Josiah Cooke did make important contributions to chemical
knowledge, but they were merely the exceptions which proved
the rule. What those men did, they did largely on their own time
during hours stolen from the small measure of leisure which re-
mained after a heavy work day. In the third quarter of the nine-
teenth century no institution made it a matter of policy to aid the
research efforts of its faculty.
With the establishment of the Johns Hopkins University, how-
ever, America got such an institution. From the outset Hopkins
pledged to keep its professors "free from petty cares, and to en-
courage them to advance, by researchers and publications, the
sciences they profess."18 The existence of the Johns Hopkins forced
each institution of higher education to recognize the research func-
tion of the professor. And every university in existence in 1876, or
16. W. T. Hewett, Cornell University: A History (4 volumes, New York,
1905), 2:162, 165.
17. F. W. Clarke, A Report on the Teaching of Chemistry and Physics in
the U.S. Circular of the Bureau of Education, 1880 (Washington, 1881),
167-68, Table II. The quality of laboratories in the United States varied
widely. Some offered only qualitative analysis work (an operation requiring
the very minimum in equipment); from this level the quality of laboratories
ranged all the way up to those which had the equipment for instruction in all
the branches of chemistry, plus facilities for research. But the quality of the
laboratory was not the important thing. What was important was that the
existence of some kind of laboratory represented a concession by the institution
that chemistry had certain unique needs that had to be met in nontraditional
ways.
18. Johns Hopkins Register 1880-81, 21.

47





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
founded thereafter, had to decide whether to adopt the Hopkins
model or settle for a lesser aim.
The last decade of the century saw a steady improvement in the
academic chemist's position. The laboratory method of instruction
was by this time standard practice. In 1901 the American Chemical
Society, surveying the teaching of chemistry, concluded that no
American institution of higher education attempted instruction
without laboratory equipment. Minimum standards for the teach-
ing of chemistry continued to rise. For positions in the better
endowed private institutions and the larger state universities, grad-
uate training was essential, and the Ph.D. was fast becoming the
standard of acceptability.19
Heavy teaching loads in the nineties were the lot of most aca-
demic chemists. According to one spokesman, all American chem-
istry teachers had "a common complaint to voice. They will tell you
the demands made upon them as instructors are alone culpable
for their meager contributions to . research. Too many hours of
teaching. Too many subjects to be taught."20 Improvements were in
the offing, however. In the 1890's the better endowed universities
began to use young, low-paid instructors and assistants to ease the
load on their full professors.21 Harvard was an example. In 1895
Chemistry Professor Charles Loring Jackson gave only two courses.
A force of eleven assistants and instructors carried the load in the
elementary courses, providing the senior faculty with the time to
conduct their own research.22
By the 1890's the research idea had taken a firm hold, at least
at the larger institutions. Even the overworked assistant professors
and instructors, feeling that the employing institution and the
chemistry profession in general expected some research effort from
19. American Chemical Society, Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the American
Chemical Society (Easton, Pennsylvania, 1902), 101. Regarding the emergence
of the Ph.D. in chemistry teaching, the National Cyclopaedia survey showed
that of 28 chemists who entered teaching in the nineties (or shortly after),
26 had advanced training in chemistry. Of these 26, 22 had Ph.D's-15 from
United States universities. These 28 chemists, by and large, joined the faculties
of wealthy private or large state institutions.
20. W. E. Stone, "The Relation of Teaching to Research," Journal of the
American Chemical Society, 15 (1893), 666.
21. A. G. Mayer, "Material vs. the Intellectual Development of our Uni-
versities," Science, 20 (1904), 45; Kuno Francke, "A Difference in German
and American University Methods," The Nation, 50 (1890), 132-33.
22. T. W. Richards, "The Chemistry Laboratory," Harvard Graduates
Magazine, 4 (1895-96), 248-49.

48





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
them, made such contributions as they could. In 1897 Assistant
Professor T. W. Richards of Harvard published a paper on the
atomic weight of magnesium and strontium.23 At about the same
time at the University of Michigan, Chemistry Instructor David M.
Lichty was able to report that he had "carried on a little investi-
gation in chemistry."24
Specialization proceeded apace in the 1890's. Owing to the rapid
increase in the body of chemical knowledge, particularly in the new
branches of physical and physiological chemistry, American colleges
and universities were forced to concede the impossibility of one
man's teaching all the branches. Accordingly, in the last decade of
the century educational institutions began to parcel out small seg-
ments of the field to individual professors. In 1889 the University of
Wisconsin made former instructor H. W. Hillyer an assistant pro-
fessor of organic chemistry. In 1893 Louis Kahlenberg joined the
Wisconsin faculty as instructor in chemistry; three years later the
university narrowed his title to instructor in physical chemistry.25

STATE AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT WORK
Prior to 1870 geological surveys undertaken by the several states
provided the principal nonacademic jobs for American chemists.
Other state agencies such as the gas commissions (to oversee the
manufacture of illuminating gas from coal), agricultural boards,
and assaying offices also used their services. The places for chem-
ists on the surveys, however, exceeded the total of all other state
openings.26
The period from 1880 until the outbreak of the Civil War was a
time of great activity in state surveying. Those decades saw surveys
undertaken by such states as Pennsylvania, New York, New Hamp-
shire, Alabama, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, and Missouri.
State survey work did not offer very stable employment, for
once the field study was completed and the findings published, the
survey died. Most chemists in fact looked upon this work as a way
23. Harvard Graduates Magazine, 5 (1896-97), 237-39.
24. October 4, 1899, to "Members of the Nine," Michigan Historical Collec-
tion of the University of Michigan.
25. Wisconsin Catalogues, 1849-87:16, 18; 1849-97:28; National Cyclopae-
dia, 15:138; 16:424; 25:73.
26. The National Cyclopaedia survey of chemists showed that up to 1870,
17 chemists found survey work and only 7 engaged in all other state supported
activity (of the 7, some held survey jobs also-I counted such chemists
twice).
49





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
to get experience until a more permanent position appeared. Irish-
born John W. Mallet, a German university graduate, used the
survey in that manner. Mallet came to the United States in 1858.
His first job was chemist to the Alabama Survey; he retained this
connection only until 1856 when he received an appointment to
the chair of chemistry at the University of Alabama.27
The state surveys called upon the chemist for many skills. He
worked as mineralogist, metallurgist, and geologist, in addition to
performing strictly chemical services. The fact that the chemist was
prepared to render other services and the fact that the survey
expected them from him reflected the lack of specialization in the
sciences in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The
surveys did, however, set a precedent by turning from the begin-
ning to the chemist with formal training in the sciences instead of
to the M.D. or the graduate of the classical college.
With the exception of California and a few other states, the
Civil War brought a temporary suspension to survey work. After
the war survey activity began once more. The surveys undertaken
in the decades following the war, however, differed from those of
the prewar period in that an increasing number were organized
on a permanent basis; by the turn of the century most states had
continuing surveys. Although most of those agencies employed
chemists only part time, about one-third of the permanent surveys
hired them as regular staff members. The Wisconsin survey fell into
the latter category: a chemist worked full time in its division of
soils. In the state surveys of the postwar period the chemist found
fewer openings, but when he obtained a place as a regular staff
member, he enjoyed a permanence of position not found before.28
In the post-Civil War period geological surveys were no longer
the only state agencies which made a large call upon the chemist's
services. The 1860's and 1870's were the inaugural years of the
municipal and state boards of health and the state agricultural
27. National Cyclopaedia, 1:348; 6:191; 9:120; 13:55; 11:91; 9:214;
10:503.
28. M. M. Leighton, compiler, Summary Information on the State Geo-
logical Surveys and the United States Geological Survey (Bulletin 188 of the
National Research Council, Washington, 1932), 1-136; C. W. Hayes, compiler,
The State Geological Surveys of the United States (United States Geological
Survey Bulletin, 465, Washington, 1911), 1-777. On the matter of opportunity
for chemists in the surveys of the period 1865-1900, the National Cyclopedia
survey of chemists showed fourteen chemists employed by state surveys prior
to 1870 and only five employed in the years after 1870.
50





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
experiment stations. Chemistry, because it was able to show its
applicability to matters of health and agriculture, quickly found a
place in these new agencies.
One of the factors accounting for the advent of the public health
movement was the rise of the American city. Crowded and squalid
living conditions which accompanied urbanization promoted the
spread of infectious disease. The concentration of large numbers of
people in big cities, where they were subject to the ravages of
disease, forced Americans to deal with problems of public health.
The epidemics that swept the cities of the United States taught
the lesson that not even the comfortable classes were safe from
cholera and yellow fever.
Scientific advance was a second factor that explained the public
health movement. While it did not yet have the answers to the
question of disease mechanism (Robert Koch, famous German
bacteriologist, did not discover the cholera bacteria until 1883),
science was able to show that such simple precautions as the boiling
of water and the disinfecting of clothes and bedding would dras-
tically curtail the spread of epidemics.29 When cholera hit the nation
in 1866, public opinion and science were both ready to meet the
challenge. The first permanent public health boards arose as a
response to that epidemic.
From the late 1860's through the 1880's, 32 states established
boards of health. Louisiana was first (1867), followed by Massa-
chusetts (1869), and California (1870). Michigan established its
board in 1873, Illinois in 1877, and New York in 1880. Munici-
palities also set up health agencies. New York City, with its Metro-
politan Board of Health (1866), led the nation in the movement.80
In determining the function of these boards, city and state ad-
ministrators recognized that such tasks as water and soil analysis,
inspection of milk, and control of manufacture and sale of kerosene
were essential to the public health. They recognized, further, that
the chemist was best equipped to perform these tasks, and so gave
him a position on the health boards.
Charles F. Chandler, Gottingen University graduate and Colum-
bia University professor, was connected with the Metropolitan
29. Charles Rosenberg, The Cholera Years (Chicago, 1961), especially pp.
193-200 on the effects of these precautionary measures in New York City.
30. Ibid., 192-93; N. S. Shaler, The United States of America (2 volumes,
New York, 1894), 2:557-58.
51





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
Board of Health (New York City) from its beginning. His experi-
ence was representative of that of other chemists in public health
service. Chandler's employment also illustrated the continuance of
the tradition established by the state surveys of the specialist in
public work. For 16 years Professor Chandler served the New York
City board on a part-time basis. During this period he investi-
gated such problems as city water and milk supplies, adulterated
liquors, poisonous cosmetics, improper plumbing and drainage in
tenements, and kerosene explosions.
Chandler's work in connection with the kerosene problem illus-
trated the specific function of the chemist on the health board. In
the 1860's kerosene was beginning to replace coal oil as an illumi-
nating fluid. In its pure form kerosene was safe, but blended with
more volatile fluids it could be highly explosive. Many of the New
York City grocers found that they could boost their profits by
mixing kerosene with benzene or naphtha, cheaper but highly
volatile substances. The result of this mixing was an explosion a
day in the city.
Chandler sought to arouse city officials to the menace of blended
kerosene. In an 1870 article he reported that five people, four of
them children, died in a single month in Brooklyn owing to kero-
sene explosions. No adjective was strong enough, said Chandler, to
"stigmatize the crime of selling benzene . as a specially safe
article, to spread death and destruction among helpless women
and children. . We shudder," he said, "at the thought of a man
who was murdered for a pair of boots, but these . persons
were murdered for a difference of five cents a gallon in the cost
of dangerous and unsafe kerosene."31 To back up his claims about
the danger of blending, Chandler collected samples of adulterated
kerosene and in the board's chemistry laboratory he carried out
chemical tests on both pure and mixed samples. His published
results proved both the danger of the blended product and the
safety of the pure article. Chandler's experiments, along with his
crusading articles, led eventually to the adoption of a city code to
regulate kerosene sale.82
The first agricultural experiment stations appeared about a dec-
ade after the start of the public health movement, offering chemists
31. "Dangerous Kerosene," The American Chemist, 1 (1871), 123.
32. Ibid., 13:57; M. T. Bogert, "C. F. Chandler," National Academy of
Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, 14 (1932), 161-63.
52





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
additional employment opportunities. The application of science,
particularly chemistry, to the promotion of American agriculture
was an old theme. In 1832 Benjamin Silliman, Sr., wrote a manual
dealing with the cultivation and refining of sugar cane. In the
1840's and 1850's Liebig's laboratory was the mecca for American
students interested in agricultural chemistry. In 1862 the creation
of a Department of Agriculture and the passage of the Morrill Act
gave further impetus to the movement toward scientific agricul-
ture.33
Founded to provide indoor and outdoor research laboratories to
supplement instruction in agricultural science in the land-grant
colleges, the first experiment station appeared in Connecticut in
1875. Other states soon followed Connecticut's lead. By 1880 North
Carolina had its experiment station. New York organized its station
in 1881, and Massachusetts followed a year later. In 1887 the fed-
eral government spurred the movement with the passage of the
Hatch Act, which provided continuing funds for the operation of a
station in every state." The experiment station movement opened
up many positions for chemists, providing places for 150 of them
by the end of the century.35
Chemists considered the agricultural experiment station positions
"choice" jobs, both in respect to salary and function. Charles Dab-
ney, Gottingen Ph.D. and director of the North Carolina station,
was well pleased with his position. He had considered a teaching
post at the University of North Carolina but took the station direc-
torship because "the University . is poor, while the state is
very liberal to this enterprise."36 Station chemists had to perform
much work of a routine technical nature, analyzing fertilizers and
plants, marls, mineral waters, and various agricultural products,
and they had a heavy load of administrative work. Dabney com-

33. C. A. Browne, "History of Chemical Education in America, 1820-1870,"
Journal of Chemical Education, 9 (1932), 718-20.
34. In the establishment of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina,
and New York stations, see R. H. Chittenden, "W. H. Brewer," National
Academy, Memoirs, 12 (1929), 807; Massachusetts Agricultural College,
Charles A. Goessmann (Cambridge, 1917), 114; C. W. Dabney, December 13,
1880, to Babcock, Box 2, Babcock Papers; First Annual Report of the Board
of Control of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year,
1882 (Albany, 1883), 2-3; on the purpose of experiment stations, see A. Hunter
Dupree, Science in the Federal Government (Cambridge, 1957), 170.
35. American Chemical Society, Twenty-fifth Anniversary, 158.
36. December 13, 1880, to Babcock, Box 2, Babcock Papers.
53





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
plained that correspondence with the farmers of North Carolina
was "very burdensome."37
In spite of their routine functions, the experiment stations slowly
developed into centers of agricultural chemical research. This was
possible because they were on a fairly sound financial footing-
especially after the passage of the Hatch Act-and could afford both
the equipment for investigations and the personnel to take the
load of routine work off the shoulders of the investigator. In De-
cember, 1880, Dabney reported joyfully that he was "entitled to
four assistants," with a fifth to come "the 1st of Jan."38 The personal
factor counted heavily in the research orientation of the stations.
The chemists who manned those posts were generally men who
knew how to use the relative freedom of the station position.
Trained in the graduate schools of America or Germany, those in-
vestigators brought a high regard for scientific research to their
agricultural work.
Gottingen-trained Ph.D. Stephen M. Babcock was one profes-
sional who accepted an experiment station position just as the
movement was gathering momentum. Over the course of his ca-
reer he enjoyed increasing opportunities to pursue his own re-
search interests. His experience in that regard was broadly repre-
sentative of those workers in other stations and reflected the
evolution of the experiment stations as laboratories of agricultural
research.
In 1882, after several industrial and academic opportunities mis-
fired, Babcock accepted a position as chemist to the newly estab-
lished New York (Geneva) Experiment Station.89 In the initial
years his work consisted largely of making routine chemical anal-
yses of vegetables and milk. By 1885, however, an assistant per-
formed most of those tasks and Babcock was able to concentrate on
his special interest, the chemistry of milk and milk products. In
1886 he investigated the viscosity (resistance of liquids to flow)
of milk in an effort to determine the factors affecting it. That in-
terest led to the invention of a viscosity measuring device, and it
37. Ibid.; on the matter of routine technical work, see H. W. Wiley,
June 4, 1887, E. H. Jenkins, September 2, 1887, and Dudley Miller, June 1,
1887, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
38. December 13, 1880, letter to Babcock, Box 2, Babcock Papers.
39. E. L. Sturtevant, April 14, 1882, James Y. McKee, May 5, 1882,
E. L. Sturtevant, May 19, 1882, to Babcock, Box 2, Babcock Papers. See
Babcock, May 10, 1882, to J. Y. McKee, Box 2, Babcock Papers.
54





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
was not long before Babcock's abilities were attracting the notice
of agricultural scientists throughout the country.40
In 1887 W. A. Henry, dean of the University of Wisconsin Col-
lege of Agriculture, decided that his experiment station and college
needed a good dairy scientist like Babcock. Satisfied with his
Geneva post, the New York chemist resisted Dean Henry's initial
overtures, despite the latter's promise of a light teaching schedule
and ample time for research.41 But Henry persevered, assuring
Babcock that there were "no discords nor dissentions" at Wisconsin
and that his "ambition here would cross no other man's path."42
By the end of 1887 Babcock was convinced and accepted the
Wisconsin offer.43
In large measure the Wisconsin station allowed Babcock to roam
freely over whatever scientific terrain he chose. Dairymen the
world over benefited from that policy. With Station Bacteriologist
H. L. Russell, Babcock solved the mystery of cheese-ripening and
gave dairymen the important cold-cure process of making cheese.
His butterfat test for milk was another important contribution.
Not only did it work a revolution in agricultural marketing, but
it made the name Babcock a household word to the American
farmer.44

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WORK
From 1850 to the end of the century the prospects of the
chemist in federal government service passed through three distinct
phases. Until the 1860's the chemist found almost no place for his
services in the established agencies of the federal government.
The few exceptions only proved the rule. In 1855 Eugene W. Hill-
gard, recently returned to the United States with his Ph.D. from
Heidelberg University, served three years as director of the Smith-
sonian chemistry laboratory. But in this period the laboratory
needed only one chemist. A few chemists worked on agricultural
40. Babcock, in the Annual Report of the New York Experiment Station,
1885:267, 1886:297-310; H. W. Wiley, July 4, 1887, Dudley Miller, June 1,
1887, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
41. Henry, August 31, 1887, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
42. September 16, 1887, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
43. T. C. Chamerlin, October 26, 1887, to Babcock, Box 3, Babcock Papers.
44. H. L. Russell, "Man of Science," Stephen M. Babcock, 5-6 (Publication
of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation). Babcock, December 28, 1895,
January 26, 1896, January 31, 1896, and March 22, 1896, to May Crandall,
Box 3, Babcock Papers. Wisconsin Catalogue, 1899-1900:3, 229-34.
55





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
problems for the Patent Office (the home of government agricul-
tural activities before 1862), but only on a part-time, contract
basis.45
The main opportunity for federal employment was, as in the
state governments, in geological surveys. Those undertaken prior
to the Civil War, with the exception of the Coast and Geodetic
Survey which made few calls upon the chemist, usually had short-
term assignments. Chemists connected with them enjoyed only
brief employment.46
In the 1860's the second phase of government scientific activity
began. For the next twenty years the government was involved in
the work of enlarging its scientific structure, while at the same
time wrestling with the problem of its proper organization. In 1862
Congress created the Department of Agriculture. Chemistry found
a home in the new department, but the off-and-on character of
federal sponsorship rendered the chemist's position uncertain. Re-
flecting this uncertainty was the fact that between 1862 and 1883
the post of chief chemist to the department changed hands on
the average of every four years.47
Charles M. Wetherill was the first professional chemist to serve
in the new Department of Agriculture. His experience reflected
the trials of chemists in that department. When Wetherill began
his work in the department in 1862 his salary came out of the
department's general fund, since Congress had made no specific
appropriation to cover it. During Wetherill's tenure of office the
department had no laboratory of its own, so that he had to do all of
his work in the Patent Office's dark and damp basement laboratory.
His agricultural work was chiefly concerned with studies of sugar
production, but since he was the only chemist then in the federal
service, the government used him for many purposes entirely
unconnected with agriculture.
One of these nonagricultural assignments led eventually to
Wetherill's dismissal. In 1863 President Lincoln pulled him away
from his agricultural duties to investigate a new gunpowder for
the government. All agricultural work ground to a halt. Lincoln in
fact gave instructions for Wetherill to "close his laboratory in the
45. National Cyclopaedia, 10:308; G. A. Weber, The Bureau of Chemistry
and Soils (Baltimore, 1928), 8.
46. National Cyclopaedia, 12:260; 11:337.
47. Weber, 15, 18; see pp. 1-40.
56





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
Agriculture Department . and to take his key with him for the
security of its contents."48 Commissioner of Agriculture Isaac New-
ton, a former dairy farmer with political ambitions, took a dim
view of Lincoln's removing his only chemist. When Wetherill re-
turned, Newton denied him his back pay, claiming that his absence
had disrupted the entire department. Lincoln urged Newton to
yield on the salary matter, but Newton, in a display of inde-
pendence, not only ignored Lincoln but fired Wetherill perma-
nently. Not even a special Congressional inquiry could restore
Wetherill to his post.49
The period from the 1860's to the 1880's also witnessed an
increase in the geological survey activity of the federal govern-
ment. From 1867 to 1878 four large surveys with a semipermanent
tenure entered the field, replacing the earlier, scattered efforts.
In developing more permanent surveys, federal activity coincided
with that of the states. In the federal surveys of the 1860's and
1870's, however, there was no formal place for chemistry, as there
was in the Department of Agriculture, and places for chemists
were no greater in number than had existed in earlier federal
surveys.50 But as a transition stage between the scattered surveys
of the 1850's and 1860's and the tightly organized and permanent
United States Geological Survey, which came later, these inter-
mediate surveys were important to the advance of chemistry in
the federal service.
The 1880's marked the beginning of the third phase of the
chemist's connection with the federal government. That decade
produced a more stable organization of science. The chemist prof-
ited by this new stability, and in such developments as the per-
manent recognition of a chemical division within the Department
of Agriculture and the creation of a chemical section in the United
States Geological Survey, the chemist found permanence of position
and an increasing appreciation of his services.

48. April 4, 1863, to Isaac Newton, quoted in Smith, "Charles Meyer
Wetherill," Journal of Chemical Education, 6 (1929), 1673; see also 1828-73.
49. Smith, 1675-80; Dupree, 152.
50. Dupree, 195-202, 384. The National Cyclopaedia survey showed one
chemist on the four surveys that functioned between 1867 and 1879. There
had been 14 who served on the earlier (pre-1867) ones. Evidently these sur-
veys in the intermediate period of government scientific activity offered no
more places to chemists than the earlier ones had done-and they probably
offered fewer places.
57





BISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
In 1881 the government regularized the support of the chemistry
division of the Department of Agriculture. Two years later the
division got its first permanent director: Harvey W. Wiley. Under
Wiley's leadership the range of operations of the chemistry divi-
sion expanded measurably. Wiley determined not only to continue
the sugar studies carried on in previous years, "but to enlarge them
and place them on a more practical foundation."51
The work that led to great expansion in the size of the
chemistry division, however, was its study of food and drugs. Soon
after taking office Wiley launched his campaign against harmful
food additives. Combining careful chemical experimentation with
sensationalism (the "Poison Squad"), Wiley and the men of his
division sought to awaken the public to the dangers inherent in
the unregulated manufacture of food. Drugs also came under the
scrutiny of the division, which warned the public against harmful
quack medicines, habit-forming headache remedies, and opium
cough syrups with which unsuspecting mothers "doped their babies
into insensibility at night."52
Through his food and drug work Wiley aimed not only to safe-
guard the public health but also to gain public support for remedial
legislation. In the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, Wiley's efforts
finally met with success.53 This law, by giving regulatory power to
the Chemistry Bureau (the division had become a bureau in 1901),
brought about a tremendous increase in the size of the chemical
agency of the Agriculture Department. In 1906 just before the law
was passed, Wiley's chemical staff numbered 110; by 1908 it had
expanded to 425.54
After 1880 the chemist also found increased opportunity for
employment in the federal survey. In 1879 Congress consolidated
the four western surveys into one agency, the United States Ge-
ological Survey. This was an important development, since the
vast scope of the new survey demanded a more formal organi-
zation of its chemical work. In 1880 Clarence King, the first
director, recognized this and set up the survey's first chemical
laboratory at Denver, Colorado. The second director, John Wesley
Powell, added two more laboratories and in 1890 centralized
all the chemical work in one laboratory in Washington, D. C.15
51. Wiley, Autobiography (Indianapolis, 1930), 168.
52. Ibid., 207; also see 198-209. 53. Ibid., 215-21.
54. Dupree, 179, 385; Weber, 18; Wiley, 233.
58





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
The primary work of this laboratory was to assist geologists in
the identification of their collections. Standard analyses of such
materials as minerals, coals, ores, and waters occupied a large
part of the survey chemist's time. Routine work was not the
sole fare, however. The analyses themselves often demanded that
the chemist contrive new investigative procedures. Furthermore,
the Geological Survey was more than willing to have its chemists
engage in abstract research. According to the chief chemist, F. W.
Clarke, work of his division was "not limited by utilitarian consid-
erations," but was "also distinctly scientific in its aims." The attitude
in the survey was that "the geologist could be aided fully as much
by chemical researches as by mere routine analysis."56
The work of chemist W. F. Hillebrand illustrated the free-
dom granted to survey workers. In the course of his career in
Washington he built a reputation as a leading analytical chemist.
The techniques he devised were famous for their sensitivity. In
1887 he came close to achieving the ultimate in his specialty-
the discovery of an element. While analyzing uranitite he found,
to his surprise, that nitrogen evolved from the mineral. Hille-
brand suspected that some other element might be contained in
the nitrogen, but he did not pursue this suspicion and published
his investigation as it stood. William Ramsay, English chemist and
discoverer of the ideal gas, argon, noted the American's findings
and undertook an investigation on cleveite, a first cousin to Hille-
brand's mineral. Ramsay found no nitrogen in cleveite, but he did
find helium, an element previously thought to exist only on the
sun. Later, investigating Hillebrand's mineral, Ramsay found
that the "other element" suspected by the American was also
helium.57
While the chemical sections of the Department of Agriculture
and the Geological Survey were the main centers of activity in
the federal government from the 1880's to the turn of the century,
they were by no means the only places open to chemists. With the
expansion of the scientific function of the government, chemists
found niches in many agencies. Prior to 1900 the Bureau of Animal
Industry, the Dairy Division, and the Division of Vegetable Physi-
ology and Pathology (all in the Department of Agriculture) em-
55. F. W. Clarke, "The Chemical Work of the United States Geological
Survey," Science, 30 (1909), 161, 170.
56. Ibid., 170; also see 161, 165-66. 57. Ibid., 54-55; DAB, 9:50-51.
59





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
played chemists. Some very unlikely agencies also required chem-
ical services: in 1887 chemist Edgar Richards joined the United
States Treasury Department, to aid in the regulation of oleo-
margarine sales.58

INDUSTRIAL WORK
Relative to the number of operational units American industry
made far less call upon the services of the chemist throughout the
nineteenth century than did educational institutions or the agen-
cies of government.59 Up to about the 1870's the chemist had almost
no place in the American industrial order. The purely chemical
industry was almost nonexistent, and to the extent that chemical
establishments did exist, rule of thumb methods largely governed
their operations. A few chemists found work with drug firms, coal
oil and petroleum distilleries, gas works, cottonseed oil plants, and
metal smelting works. But a chemist to many of these firms was
very often a person who had had very little formal schooling and
who was self-taught in his trade. Luther Atwood was an example
of the chemical tinker in industry. As a boy Atwood learned the
art of distilling on his farm, where he set up a small contrivance to
manufacture peppermint oil. This experience brought a demand
for his services from several firms in the coal oil and petroleum
distilling business. From 1848 until his death Atwood found steady
employment with such firms as the Philbrick and Trafton Chemical
Company of Boston and the American Kerosene Gas Light Com-
pany of New Jersey, and for one period in the mid-1850's Atwood
successfully operated his own distillation firm.60
Between 1840 and 1870 the chemist had as much chance to
secure a place in industry by starting his own business as he did by
attempting to locate a position with an established firm.61 In the
58. National Cyclopaedia, 11:54; 10:238; 26:86.
59. The National Cyclopaedia survey showed that in the years from 1870
to the turn of the century, industry employed 31 survey chemists while
educational institutions hired about 70; health and agricultural agencies-city
and state-employed 26; and the federal government had places for 13.
60. Frederick H. Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (Easton, Pennsylvania,
1940), 116; National Cyclopaedia, 13:26. The National Cyclopaedia survey
showed that better than one-half of all the chemists who found work in in-
dustry in the years 1850-70 were men without any specialized training in the
science. Some had received a classical school education and some had had
no education beyond the high school level-if that.
61. The National Cyclopaedia survey showed that in this period, 12 chem-
ists founded their own businesses and 15 took jobs in established firms.

60





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
mid-1850's Cyrus Warren, Lawrence Scientific School graduate and
one-time student at European universities, established the Warren
Chemical and Manufacturing Company. In 1866 William Warner,
trained at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, founded a drug
concern which pioneered in the manufacture of the sugar-coated
pill. In the 1870's David Hiscox likewise set up a drug manufac-
turing firm. Hiscox, however, prepared himself for this business
venture by an apprenticeship with a druggist.62
As the training of these four chemists illustrated, the level of
technological development in the third quarter of the nineteenth
century gave a man with no formal training in chemistry as easy
access to manufacturing as it did the chemist with specialized
preparation. E. R. Squibb was a case in point. In the mid-1840's
Squibb, a doctor of medicine, began a period of service as a naval
surgeon. During his tour of duty he obtained authority to set up
a small laboratory to manufacture the pharmaceuticals and chem-
icals he needed in his work. Squibb was soon manufacturing ether,
chloroform, salts, and acids in his Navy laboratory. In 1857 the
Navy refused him further funds, whereupon he left the service.
A year later, urged on by the promise of an Army contract, Squibb
established a firm to manufacture chemicals and drugs. After
weathering an initial period of difficulty, the firm of Edward R.
Squibb, M.D., rapidly became one of the nation's leading phar-
maceutical houses.63
The position of the chemist in industry in the years from 1870
to the end of the century was little changed from what it had
been in the preceding 25 years. Although there were nearly 9000
chemists in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century,
all of the chemical industries combined employed only 276 of them
full time.64 In the last quarter of the century American industry
underwent a process of concentration of control and expansion of
operations, yet industrialists remained reluctant to hire trained
62. National Cyclopaedia, 10:313; 2:167; 1:472. 63. DAB, 17:487-88.
64. Bureau of the Census, Occupations at the Twelfth Census, xxxiv-xxxv;
Bureau of the Census, Manufactures (Washington, 1902), Part 4:528. The
industries surveyed under the heading "Chemical Industries" were the chem-
ical manufacturing firms (those making soda, potash, explosives, general
chemicals, dyestuffs, paints, etc.), not the chemical process industries (pe-
troleum, steel, salt, sugar, etc.); however, one can safely make the assumption
-at least for the year 1900-that the former group of industries would be
most amenable to the employment of chemists, and would thus hire the bulk
of them. The National Cyclopaedia survey corroborates this.

61





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
chemists. The managers of American industries simply felt that
chemistry had nothing to offer them. Rule of thumb methods and
a native mechanical genius continued to earn substantial profits,
and the great abundance of resources made it generally unneces-
sary to practice refinements in production methods or to minimize
waste.65
Andrew Carnegie, describing the state of scientific control in the
iron and steel industry in the 1870's, said that "chemistry was al-
most an unknown agent in connection with the manufacture of
pig iron." The blast furnace manager "was usually a rude bully,"
who was "supposed to diagnose the condition of the furnace by
instinct, to possess some almost supernatural power of divination.
. He was a veritable quack doctor who applied whatever rem-
edies occurred to him for the troubles of his patient."68 Long after
Carnegie turned to chemical control for his mills, about 1872, the
proprietors of other furnaces were still claiming that they "could
not afford to employ a chemist."67
In the ceramic industry (bricks, cement, glass, and pottery)
science made little impression through the whole of the nineteenth
century. The average potter was not willing to concede that chem-
istry could do anything for him. What were actually chemical
processes, the mixing of body and glaze and the firing in the kiln,
did not seem so to the potter because he had done them "by rote
so long as to lose their real significance."68 In the pulp and paper
industry the story was the same. In 1900 a chemist described the
industry as one that had made no attempt to utilize by-products
or to produce the most profitable products. Similar resistance to
science prevailed in sugar refining. In the 1880's one chemist in
the southern sugar industry found that chemical control was "prac-
tically unheard of, and the losses incident to the manufacture were
almost absolutely unknown."69
65. For the appraisal by contemporary American chemists of the reasons
for industrial disdain for chemical control, see A. D. Little, "Industrial Research
in America," Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 5 (1913), 793;
W. R. Whitney, "Chemical Research and Industrial Progress," American
Electro-chemical Society, Transactions, 19 (1911), 23-26.
66. Carnegie, Autobiography (Boston, 1920), 181.
67. Ibid., 182-3.
68. Edward Orton, "Progress of the Ceramic Industry," Bulletin of the
University of Wisconsin, 2 (1903), 283.
69. Swensen, "The Chemical Engineer," Bulletin of the University of Wis-
consin, 2 (1900), 198, 200.

62





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century the position of the
trained industrial chemist was not enviable. Firms which imposed
some measure of scientific control over their processes as likely as
not bypassed the professional and hired a nonskilled worker for
the operation. If the chemist found a position he could seldom feel
secure in his job, owing to industry's feeling that it could really do
as well without the frills of science. The professional who managed
to keep his post usually bought job security at the cost of tedium.70
One chemist who had the best training that the German univer-
sities could offer, and who had then worked three years in German
chemical industry, experienced all manner of difficulty trying to
earn a living in American industry. When he returned to the United
States he had great difficulty finding a job. Then, in 1895, after he
had obtained a place and worked in it for five years, he lost his
position to the owner's son. Finding another place proved impos-
sible. "I have tried to obtain a new one," he said, "for the last eight
months, but in vain. I am conversant with the processes used in
making all the leading chemicals . but can find no one who
wants my services."71
Chemist Otto Eisenschiml managed to hold his position, and his
work conditions were like those of most trained chemists in indus-
try. Eisenschiml received his education at the technical institute
in Vienna. In 1900 he got his first job in the laboratory of a
Pittsburgh blast furnace. The laboratory had a staff of twelve men
and not one, except Eisenschiml, had any formal training in chem-
istry. The laboratory chief, a former water boy who had worked
up to his present position, conveyed the attitude of most of industry
toward trained scientists when he warned Eisenschiml that he
didn't "want no university nonsense around here."72 Eisenschiml's
work consisted of two tasks, the testing of iron for phosphorus
and the analysis of slag for iron, and he performed them day in
and day out.73 He had occasion to meet with chemists in other
Pittsburgh industries and "they were no better off than their col-
leagues in the iron and steel works. Some were college graduates,
others were not; it did not seem to make much difference." Not
70. A. D. Little, "Industrial Research in America," Journal of Industrial and
Engineering Chemistry, 5 (1913), 798; C. L. Reese, "Industrial Benefits of
Research," Circular of the National Research Council (Washington, 1921), 3.
71. J.O.L., "The Career of a Chemist," Scientific American, 72 (1895), 130.
72. Eisenschiml, Without Fame, 63; also see 63-67.
73. Ibid., 78-79, 68.

63





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
only were work conditions generally poor but salaries were equally
bad. According to Eisenschiml pawn-brokers, clerks, "even street-
car conductors and nightwatchmen were paid better than chem-
ists."74
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, however, American
industry gradually began to change its attitude toward the need
of chemical services. The shift was almost imperceptible before
the late 1880's.75 Although no single year marked the beginning of
industry's acceptance of chemistry, the economic developments of
the 1870's and 1880's prepared the ground for it. The depression
beginning in 1873 greatly weakened or brought about the collapse
of many small manufacturing establishments and permitted the
stronger firms to absorb their less stable competitors. The con-
solidation of American industry into larger and larger units of
production provided the capital to develop new and intricate
processes and to employ the skilled technicians to operate them.
Many factors spurred industry to give a willing ear to the claims
of science. The pre-eminence of the German chemical industry
heightened an awareness in America of what might be done with a
greater use of chemists and the methods of chemical science.
The pressures of national and foreign competition that came with
the rise of national industry forced industrialists to pay heed to
production costs, process improvement, and utilization of waste
products. And the adoption of technological improvements in one
industry usually forced other industries to undertake similar im-
provements.76 Setting the pace in seeking the services of the chem-
ist were the basic chemical industries (the producers of such
products as pure chemicals, paints, dyes, and drugs), the chemical
process industries (petroleum refining and metal manufacturing,
with the exception of iron and steel), and certain others not iden-
tifiable as chemical or chemical process industries (notably the
meat-packing and electrical industries).
74. Ibid., 106.
75. A graphical plot of employment in industry (for non-proprietors),
taking into account the year of employment, for the chemists of the National
Cyclopaedia survey showed a heavier concentration of industrial positions
beginning about 1885.
76. See Bureau of the Census, Manufactures (1902), 527-8; Swensen,
198-202; Little, 798; Eisenschiml, 75-76, 130-37; V. Grignard, "The Collabora-
tion of Science and Industry," Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chem-
istry, 10 (1918), 137; John D. Rockefeller, Random Reminiscences of Men
and Events (New York, 1933), 81-82.

64





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
The growing willingness of American industry to turn to science
not only meant more jobs for chemists, but it carried with it a
recognition of the academically trained specialist over the chemist
who had only on-the-job experience.77 The advice of the Scientific
American to young men interested in industrial careers reflected
the growing opportunity for trained specialists. In 1895 that maga-
zine declared that of all branches of technology, the field of tech-
nical chemistry "offered the greatest opportunity for a successful
career." Success, however, was contingent upon having the proper
training; the Scientific American told the young reader that his
first step should be to secure an education at some technical school
like the Armour Institute or the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology.78
Not only were there quantitative changes in the relationship
of the trained chemist to American industry but there were quali-
tative changes as well. The first industrial chemists did routine
work, keeping watch on existing processes and maintaining control
over products by the use of standard analytical methods. Near
the end of the nineteenth century chemists in some industries
began to add to their duties those of new product development,
which involved a degree of applied research. Finally, in the early
twentieth century, a few industries began to allow their chemists
to engage in basic research in connection with product develop-
ment. Not all industries which accepted the trained chemist to do
routine work advanced to the second stage by the 1890's or to the
third stage by the early 1900's, but the tendency toward these
changes was broadly evident in industry.
The careers of Charles B. Dudley, Charles McDowell, and
Willis R. Whitney illustrated these changes in the industrial con-
cept of the chemist's function. Dudley was probably the first man
to serve in a department of railroad chemistry. In 1875 the Penn-
sylvania Railroad hired him to set up purchasing standards for
all the products that the railroad bought and to test incoming
goods to insure that they met company specifications. When Dud-
77. The National Cyclopaedia survey showed that of 18 chemists who made
industrial work their life's career (employment for 25 years or more), 17 of
them began work after 1870. Of the 31 chemists who held industrial jobs for
any length of time at all (after 1870), 28 had specialized academic training
in chemistry. For the period before 1870 by contrast, only 7 of 15 chemists had
this kind of training.
78. "On the Choice of a Career," Scientific American, 72 (1895), 34.

65





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
ley entered upon this work there was little understanding in any
industry of the relationship between the chemical composition of
an article and the quality of its performance. Dudley's work, the
testing of goods and the return of articles which failed to meet
specifications, aggravated the railroad's suppliers, but it forced
them in the end "to protect their interests and defend their mate-
rials by means of testing engineers [namely, chemists] in their
own employ."79
In 1887 Charles McDowell joined the firm of Armour and Com-
pany. At that time the leading packing firms were getting into
the by-products business. Competition among the large packers
was behind this development. As Louis Swift, son of the Swift
and Company founder, said, the "keen competition. .. among
the large concerns [in meat packing] forced down prices and
forced down margins. Unless one kept abreast of the others in
by-product utilization, then that laggard inevitably went under."80
McDowell's assignment at Armour was to develop a line of prod-
ucts from materials formerly regarded as waste. Under the touch
of chemistry, blood, bone fragments, and dried meat offal became
profitable fertilizer constituents. Hides and bones yielded up glue,
gelatin, and grease.81
Willis R. Whitney was the first director of the General Electric
research laboratory. In this capacity he served a firm which was
the recognized leader in the industrial research movement. The
companies which made the earliest ventures into research were
the chemical, chemical process, and electrical industries-DuPont,
Bell Telephone, Westinghouse, Eastman Kodak, and Standard Oil
(Indiana). These were the "new" industries in the sense that they
arose as a result of nineteenth-century scientific discoveries, rather
than by the slow development of time-honored craft techniques.
Getting their start from science and dependent upon it, these in-
dustries did not show the older industries' reluctance to adopt
scientific controls and methods.82
79. Dudley, in a speech before the American Society for Testing Materials
(ASTM), quoted in ASTM, Charles B. Dudley (Philadelphia, 1911), 165;
see also 20-23, 50-52, 165.
80. Yankee of the Yards (Chicago, 1927), 12; National Cyclopaedia, A:121.
81. William Haynes, American Chemical Industry (6 volumes, New York
City), 6:415; United States Census, Report on Manufacturing Industries in the
United States (Washington, 1895), 561.
82. Kendall Birr, Pioneering in Industrial Research (Washington, 1957),
8, 20.

66





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
In 1900, in an effort to rebuild its position of technical leadership
in the industry, General Electric founded a laboratory "devoted
exclusively to original research."83 The company selected W. R.
Whitney, then professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, as director and gave him a free hand to choose his
own staff.
Although the work of the laboratory always had a practical end
ultimately in view, the investigating team approached problems
at the level of theory. In that way Whitney and his staff not only
got the results wanted by General Electric but also added signifi-
cantly to the knowledge of chemistry in the process. "We see a
field," said Whitney, "where it seems as though experimental work
ought to put us ahead. . We start back at the academic end as
far as possible, and count on knowing what to do with what we
find when we find it. Suppose that we surmise that . com-
bustible insulation material could be improved upon. We try to get
some work started on an artificial mica. Maybe we try to synthesize
it and soon come to a purely theoretical question. . This may
lead a long way and call in a lot of pure chemistry .... Usually we
keep at it, so that if you haven't seen it on the market we're prob-
ably at it yet."84
By the second decade of this century industrial acceptance of
the scientist overcame traditional disdain as the dominant atti-
tude of American industry. In 1910 Ira Remsen, president of the
Johns Hopkins University, noted the passing of an old attitude and
the establishment of a new. The Johns Hopkins, he said, could not
produce chemists fast enough to satisfy the calls of American in-
dustries. In fact industrial positions were so attractive that it was
becoming difficult for Hopkins to supply the demand for teachers.
The moral was plain, Remsen declared: the "chemical industries of
the United States have learned the lesson . that their hope of
success lies in the adoption of the most scientific methods pos-
sible."85

The modern American chemistry profession is firmly rooted to
the institutional developments of the last half of the nineteenth
century. The value system of present-day chemistry had its
83. GE technical director E. W. Rice, quoted in Birr, 31.
84. Quoted in Little, 796.
85. Quoted in Getman, 122-23.

67





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
beginnings in that earlier period. Research-mindedness was not a
product of the present century: as early as the 1860's men like
Wolcott Gibbs saw research as the proper concern of the student
and the professional man. Although the non-Ph.D. chemist could
easily find work in the nineteenth century, the trend toward hiring
the highly trained specialist for government service and academic
positions began long before 1900. When Ira Remsen gathered his
faculty at the Johns Hopkins University, he considered only those
chemists who could submit evidence (namely, a Ph.D. degree) of
research ability. An eagerness to publish, a corollary of research,
also marked the profession in its early period. Remsen's conviction
that no suitable outlet existed for American investigation led
him to found the American Chemical Journal. Its success showed
that American workers were publication-conscious. Frank Clarke
won support for a revitalized national society largely on the
ground that such an organization could maintain a strong chemical
journal. By 1900 the trend toward increasing specialization within
the profession, which has reached such heights today, was already
apparent. In the 1890's the professor of physical chemistry re-
placed the professor of chemistry, just as the latter, several decades
earlier, had replaced the natural philosopher. In 1895 the appear-
ance of an abstract of American chemical research gave evidence
that even nineteenth-century professionals had trouble keeping
abreast of the literature.
If American chemists in the twentieth century made outstanding
contributions to their science and to the larger American society,
investments of time and energy by nineteenth-century workers
made these achievements possible. In a day of government gen-
erosity and strong private support of science, in a time of vigorous
professional organization and security of position, American chem-
ists tend to forget that workers did not always operate amid such
plenty. Modem-day professionals readily acknowledge their debt
to those earlier workers who laid the theoretical foundations of
chemistry. The pioneer chemists who built the institutional founda-
tions of the American profession deserve equal credit. Had the
nineteenth-century workers not labored to erect departments of
chemistry, journals, and societies, American chemistry would not
occupy the position of influence that it does today.
Lacking adequate support, laboring against the traditional atti-
tudes that thwarted their efforts, and often toiling without the
68





THE CHEMIST AT WORK
satisfaction of seeing the fruits of their work, the nineteenth-
century pioneers created the professional machinery that was es-
sential if American workers were ever to make major contributions
to chemical theory. From 1931 to 1961 twelve American chemists
won the Nobel Prize, as compared to a combined total of fifteen
for the Germans and English.86 The success of American investi-
gators in winning so many of these distinguished awards was a
tribute to the efforts of earlier generations of professional workers
who had built a solid foundation for the American chemistry pro-
fession.

86. Harry Hansen, ed., The World Almanac and Book of Facts (New
York, 1962), 562-63.


69





NOTE ON THE SOURCES


The footnotes provide a listing of all sources used. Scientific
periodicals and the proceedings of scientific societies were the
most reliable and valuable guides. The American Journal of Science
and Arts, The American Chemist, The American Chemical Journal,
and The Journal of the American Chemical Society were especially
useful for the story of the development of chemical publications.
For reports of the research, organization building, and educational
activities of American chemists, The American Journal of Science
and Arts was indispensable because it was the only one spanning
the entire period from 1850 to 1900. The editorial sections of The
American Chemist reported in greater detail the day-to-day work
of profession building. Volume 5 (1875), 43-115, 119-209, 327-28,
featured the Centennial Celebration of chemists. The general use-
fulness of the periodical was limited, however, because it had
such a brief existence.
Frank W. Clarke's article, "The Chemical Work of the United
States Geological Survey," in Science, 30 (August, 1909), 161-71,
provided a first-hand account of chemists' activity in this branch of
government service. Clarke's essay showed that by the 1880's the
chemist in government service had won recognition as a scientific
specialist. A. D. Little's article, "Industrial Research in America," in
the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 5 (1913),
783-801, offered a historical account of industrial acceptance of the
chemist. A series of exchanges between an unnamed editor and an
anonymous correspondent, "On the Choice of a Career," in Scien-
tific American, 72 (1895), 34, 130, 211, provided a helpful com-
mentary on the position of the chemist in industry at the turn of
the century. The discussion very neatly illustrated the dichotomy
in the attitude of industry toward chemists at that time. The Scien-
tific American as a whole was of little use in studying the develop-
ing chemistry profession, for it was largely a journal of technological
innovation. Ezra Carr's address, "The Claims of the Natural Sci-
ences to Enlarged Considerations in our System of Education," in
the Publications of the Chemistry Department of the University of
Wisconsin, 1 (1855-99), 59-77, was a valuable commentary on the
70





NOTE ON THE SOURCES
state of higher education in the middle of the nineteenth century
and on the movement for practical education.
The first volume of the Proceedings of the American Chemical
Society (1877) told the full story of the beginnings of that organi-
zation. Later efforts to build a stronger national society were chroni-
cled in the Proceedings of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, volumes 37-39 (1889-91). The addresses
of the chairmen of the American Association's chemical section, in
that body's Proceedings, described the work of leading chemists
who were trying to set standards and attack the problems of their
profession. Charles Loring Jackson and Charles W. Eliot's obituary
of Josiah Parsons Cooke in the Proceedings of the American Acad-
emy of Arts and Sciences, 30 (1895), 513-47, offered the most
complete published account of the early development of education
in chemistry at Harvard College.
The Journal of Chemical Education, a more recent publication,
contained two collections of source material not available elsewhere.
Edgar Fahs Smith's biography of Charles Meyer Wetherill in 6
(1929), 1076, 1215, 1461, 1668, 1916, 2160, contained many of the
letters of a man whose varied career in private consulting work,
government service, and teaching reflected the occupational pros-
pects of the chemist of the 1850's and 1860's. C. A. Browne's article,
"The European Laboratory Experiences of an Early American Agri-
cultural Chemist-Dr. Evan Pugh," in 7 (March, 1930), 499-517,
contained many of Pugh's letters, which gave an intimate view of
American students' experiences in Germany.
Much of the story of the developing profession could be found
in collections of unpublished correspondence. The Stephen Moulton
Babcock Papers at the Wisconsin State Historical Library, Madison,
Wisconsin, showed the research opportunity afforded the chemist
by the agricultural experiment stations. Babcock's correspondence
with his family and with other chemists during the 1870's and
1880's offered an accurate picture of American students' experiences
in Germany, and of the position of the chemist in American higher
education. The letters of Benjamin Silliman, Jr., and John Pitkin
Norton to their former student, William H. Brewer, and to the
Yale Corporation, are located in the Memorabilia Collection of the
Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut. The corre-
spondence with Brewer dealt with the general state of chemistry in
America in the 1850's and contained the Yale chemists' reflections
71





BISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
on European study and on the endowment of scientific education.
The letters to the Yale Corporation dealt with the establishment of
the scientific department, and related the trials, hopes, and suc-
cesses of the two men most responsible for its development. A
record of the early official correspondence from the Yale chemistry
laboratory was found in the Letter Press Book of the Yale Analyti-
cal Laboratory, at the Yale University Library. A microfilm copy
of these letters is on deposit at the Wisconsin Historical Society
Library. The letters from Norton and Silliman for the most part
discussed such matters as equipment and materials purchases, and
were of little use to the story of professional development. There
were, however, some letters from Norton to prospective students
and others which described the course program and its aim, re-
vealing Norton's hopes for education in chemistry at the Yale
scientific school.
Official reports of government agencies and universities consti-
tuted another important body of source material. The Circulars of
Information of the United States Office of Education contained
many of the statistics on education in chemistry. Frank W. Clarke's
Report on the Teaching of Chemistry and Physics in the United
States in Circular number 6 (1881) provided a complete survey of
educational facilities and a description of the chemistry depart-
ments of every higher educational institution in the nation. In 1888
the Office of Education began the publication in its Circulars of
the history of higher education in the several states. While little
attention was focused specifically on chemistry, the histories pro-
vided good accounts of scientific education at the major universi-
ties. C. W. Hayes' compilation, The State Geological Surveys of the
United States, in the United States Geological Survey Bulletin num-
ber 465 (1911), 177 pp., offered a capsule history of all the state
surveys and was of use in assessing the role of the chemist in that
movement. The Bulletins of the Division of Chemistry, published
by the United States Department of Agriculture, contained the
proceedings of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists.
Although most of this material related to the chemists' efforts to
erect analytical standards, Bulletin number 24 (1890), 66-68, fea-
tured an address by Frank W. Clarke on a proposed national chem-
ical society. Clarke's address was an important part of the story of
chemical society building.
University catalogues are lifeless affairs, but they provided a
72





NOTE ON THE SOURCES
helpful guide to the changes that took place in American higher
education during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Yale
and Harvard University Catalogues for the period 1845-65 revealed
the character and aim of instruction in the Sheffield and Lawrence
Scientific schools and pointed up the contrast between scientific
instruction in academic colleges and that in scientific schools. The
Harvard Catalogues for 1850-60 detailed the work of Josiah Cooke
in enlarging the chemistry curriculum at Harvard College, but they
were totally silent on the chemistry laboratory that Cooke organ-
ized and which was such an important part of his total contribution.
The Official Circulars of the Johns Hopkins University for 1876 and
1877 provided a concise statement of the educational philosophy of
that institution. Ira Remsen's plans for chemistry at the Johns
Hopkins appeared in the sections of the Circulars pertaining to
his own department.
Very few autobiographies of American chemists exist. Harvey
Wiley's Autobiography (Indianapolis, 1930), 339 pp., and Otto
Eisenschiml's Without Fame: The Romance of a Profession (Chi-
cago, 1942), 368 pp., were two colorful exceptions. Together, these
books afforded an intimate look at the American chemist in his
many roles: student, teacher, profession builder, government
worker, and industrial employee. Elizabeth Osborne's From the
Letter Files of Samuel W. Johnson (New Haven, 1918), an edition
of her father's correspondence, provided a very human picture of
the expectations and disappointments of the German-trained schol-
ars who attempted to establish the research tradition in American
universities in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The National Academy of Sciences' Memoirs and Biographical
Memoirs contained reasonably adequate biographical sketches of
influential nineteenth-century chemists. Unfortunately, there was
little about the individual's contribution to the institutional devel-
opment of his profession. Most of the memoirs concentrated on
contributions of a technical nature and otherwise tended to be too
concerned with eulogizing the departed to be of much historical
worth. Those of Wolcott Gibbs, 7 (1913), 1-22; W. F. Hillebrand,
12 (1929), 43-70; Ira Remsen, 14 (1932), 210-30; and Charles F.
Chandler, 14 (1932), 127-84, were exceptions.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography was an ex-
tremely useful source. The biographies of about 250 chemists, active
in the nineteenth century, appeared here. While not providing
73





RISE OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY PROFESSION
biographical information as complete as the National Academy's
Memoirs, the Cyclopaedia contained more vital statistics on more
chemists than were available in any other source. Sifting the infor-
mation offered here produced a clear picture of the changing pat-
tern of education and employment of American chemists during
the nineteenth century. A survey of all the chemists featured in the
Cyclopaedia yielded a close approximation of the activity of the
whole body of American chemists. The chronology of professional
development, resulting from such a survey, aided in setting this
development in its proper social perspective.
Secondary works provided a grasp of the broader social frame-
work in which nineteenth-century American chemists functioned.
Richard J. Storr's The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America
(Chicago, 1953), 195 pp., was an important study of the pre-Civil-
War origins of the university movement, focusing attention on the
developing pressures for more practical education. Richard Hof-
stadter and C. Dewitt Hardy's The Development and Scope of
Higher Education in the United States (New York, 1952), 254
pp., and Frederick Rudolph's The American College and Univer-
sity (New York, 1962), 516 pp., took up the scientific-school move-
ment and continued the story of educational reform through and
beyond the founding of the Johns Hopkins University. The move-
ment for agricultural education and its implications for education
in the basic sciences was well covered in Earle D. Ross, Democracy's
College: The Land-Grant Movement in the Formative Years
(Ames, Iowa, 1942), 267 pp. A. Hunter Dupree, in Science in the
Federal Government (Cambridge, 1957) 460 pp., traced the de-
velopment of government sponsorship of science and described
the evolution of the scientific bureaus which provided a home for
American chemists.
Samuel Eliot Morison gave a clear but abbreviated account of
the development of scientific education in the Lawrence Scientific
School and in Harvard College, in his Three Centuries of Harvard,
1636-1936 (Cambridge, 1937), 512 pp. The development of chem-
istry at the Sheffield Scientific School received detailed coverage by
physiological chemist, Russell H. Chittenden, in his History of the
Sheffield Scientific School (2 volumes, New Haven, 1928), 610 pp.
Chittenden's work was overly statistical but it provided the back-
ground needed for a proper reading of the correspondence of the
pioneer Yale chemists.
74





NOTE ON THE SOURCES
Friedrick Paulsen's German Universities: Their Character and
Historical Development (New York, 1895), 254 pp., was a cold
and antiseptic account of the German university, its philosophy,
methods, and structure. But for a clear understanding of the Ger-
man educational environment in which American students trained,
the book had no peer. Charles Thwing's The American and the
German University (New York, 1928), 238 pp., was a more human-
ized treatment of the same subject. It was helpful for the picture it
gave of American students' reaction to their German experiences.
Nearly all secondary works dealing with chemists or the chem-
istry profession were internal histories. There were, however, a few
exceptions. John F. Fulton and Elizabeth H. Thompson's Benjamin
Silliman, 1779-1864, Pathfinder in American Science (New York,
1947), 294 pp., was a good biography and treated Silliman's role in
establishing the Yale School of Applied Chemistry and his work in
scientific journalism. The limitation of the book for purposes of the
present study was that the central figure, although a prominent
chemist, passed from the scene in the early stages of professional
development. Charles A. Browne and Mary Elvira Week's History
of the American Chemical Society (Washington, 1952), 526 pp.,
was very useful for its detailed footnoting and statistical informa-
tion, but it romanticized the work of society building. Frederick H.
Getman's Life of Ira Remsen (Easton, Pennsylvania, 1940), 172 pp.,
contained some of Remsen's letters and addresses, but its use
was limited by a complete absence of footnotes and bibliography.
The Massachusetts Agricultural College's commemorative biogra-
phy, Charles Anthony Goessmann (Cambridge, 1917), 187 pp.,
was a brief but well-written account of a man who was at various
times a German university instructor, industrial chemist, American
College teacher, and experiment station director.


75






Date Due


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA MONOGRAPHS
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1900. By Edward H. Beardsley

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