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Anthony N. Stranges and Richard C. Jones

Baekeland, Leo Hendrik (14 November 1863–23 February 1944), chemist and inventor, was born in St. Martens-Latem, near Ghent, Belgium, the son of Karel Baekeland, a cobbler, and Rosalia Merchie, a housemaid. A government scholarship enabled Baekeland to enter the University of Ghent, where he studied chemistry in the School of Exact Sciences. He received a B.S. in 1882 and a D.Sc. in organic chemistry in 1884, passing the examination with highest honors. The following year he became an assistant to Theodore Swarts, a professor of chemistry at Ghent. In 1887 Baekeland won a traveling scholarship in an academic competition sponsored by the Universities of Ghent, Liege, Brussels, and Louvain. He postponed travel and instead continued as an assistant professor and then as associate professor from 1888 to 1889 at Ghent and at the nearby Higher Normal School at Bruges from 1885 to 1887. In 1889 he married Swarts’s daughter, Céline, an artist; they had two children. The couple used Baekeland’s scholarship for travel to France, Britain, and the United States that year....

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Bueche, Arthur Maynard (14 November 1920–22 October 1981), chemist and industrialist, was born in Flushing, Michigan, the son of Bernard P. Bueche, a merchant, and Margaret Rekart. He grew up in Flushing, where he worked in the family store, played football, and was school valedictorian and class poet at Flushing High School. He earned the associate degree in science from Flint Junior College in Michigan in 1941 and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1943. He began graduate school in chemistry at Ohio State University in 1943 and then transferred to Cornell, where he did his thesis work under Nobel laureate ...

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Dow, Herbert Henry (26 February 1866–15 October 1930), chemist and industrialist, was born in Belleville, Ontario, the son of Joseph Dow, a master mechanic, and Sarah Bunnell. Dow’s early life was spent in Connecticut, but in 1878 his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he graduated in 1888 from the Case School of Applied Science. While at Case he became fascinated with the possibility of extracting bromine, a substance used to produce drugs and photographic chemicals, from the salt-impregnated waters (brines) often associated with oil and gas wells. By 1889 he had developed a novel electrolytic process for doing this. After an initial attempt at commercialization failed, Dow secured new backing and in 1890 formed the Midland Chemical Company. He moved operations to Midland, Michigan, near rich, easy to tap brines, and by 1894 he had developed one of the earliest commercially successful electrochemical processes in the United States. In 1892 Dow married Grace Ball, a Midland schoolteacher; they had seven children. The oldest child, Willard Dow, eventually succeeded his father as head of the Dow Chemical Company....

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Ellis, Carleton (20 September 1876–13 January 1941), chemist and inventor, was born in Keene, New Hampshire, the son of Marcus Ellis, a merchant, and Catherine Goodnow. Ellis received a camera from his father for his eleventh birthday and became an amateur photographer. Obsessed with the chemistry of photography, he pursued experiments in a home laboratory to the dismay of his parents, who considered this a wasteful extravagance. In 1896 he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a B.S. in chemistry in 1900 and serving as an instructor in chemistry until 1902. In 1901 he married Birdella May Wood of Dayton, Ohio; they had four children....

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Hill, Henry Aaron (30 May 1915–17 March 1979), chemist and businessman, was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of William Anthony Hill II, the head waiter at a local hotel, and Kate Anna Evans. Hill attended public elementary and secondary schools in St. Joseph and graduated from Bartlett High School in 1931. After completing his first year of college at Lewis Institute in Chicago (later a part of the Illinois Institute of Technology), he attended Johnson C. Smith University, an all-black institution in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated in 1936 with a B.S. cum laude in mathematics and chemistry....

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Mallinckrodt, Edward, Jr. (17 November 1878–19 January 1967), chemical manufacturer and chemist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Edward Mallinckrodt, a chemical manufacturer, and Jennie Anderson. Mallinckrodt’s father, a leader of the large St. Louis German community, was owner of Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, a firm founded in 1867, and the family was well-to-do by midwestern standards. Mallinckrodt graduated from Smith Academy, a local preparatory school. He pursued a B.A. in chemistry at Harvard University, graduating cum laude in 1900. He remained at Harvard, studying with the renowned chemist ...

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Morehead, John Motley (03 November 1870–07 January 1965), electrochemist, diplomat, and philanthropist, was born in Spray (now Eden), North Carolina, the son of James Turner Morehead, a prominent textile manufacturer, and Mary Elizabeth Connally. After preparatory and military school training, he entered the University of North Carolina and graduated with election to Phi Beta Kappa in 1891....

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Mowbray, George Mordey (05 May 1814–21 June 1891), chemist and explosives manufacturer, was born in Brighton, England; the names of his parents are unknown. Mowbray recounted of his early life only that he studied organic chemistry in England, France, and Germany before becoming a pharmaceutical manufacturer, then a drug wholesaler in England. A voyage prescribed for poor health took him to South America, where he became interested in the nitrate industry. Continuing his journey around the Horn, he fetched up in the gold fields of California; working as an assayer, chemist, and amateur surgeon to the miners restored his energy. He married Annie Fade, a native of Kent, England, apparently around 1857, though whether he returned to England for that purpose is not clear. They had no children of their own, but they adopted Annie Mowbray’s orphaned nephew, Henry Siddons, who took their surname. They took up residence in New York in 1858, and Mowbray became a research chemist for the wholesale drug firm of Schieffelin Brothers and Company....

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Plunkett, Roy Joseph (26 June 1910–12 May 1994), chemist and research director, was born in New Carlisle, Ohio, the son of Joseph Henry Plunkett and Elizabeth May Garst, farmers. His parents belonged to the Church of the Brethren, whose members were known as Dunkards, or Dunkers, and he was raised strictly in the faith. He graduated from Newton High School in Pleasant Hill, Ohio, in 1927 and entered Manchester College, a Dunkard school, in North Manchester, Indiana, from which he received his A.B. in chemistry in 1932. He roomed and was friends with future (1974) Nobel chemistry laureate ...

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Squibb, Edward Robinson (04 July 1819–25 October 1900), physician, chemist, and manufacturing pharmacist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of James Robinson Squibb (occupation unknown) and Catherine Bonsall. After Squibb’s mother died in 1831, the family moved to Philadelphia. In 1837 Edward became a pharmacist’s apprentice. Five years later he entered Jefferson Medical College; he received his M.D. degree in 1845....

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Takamine, Jokichi (03 November 1854–22 July 1922), chemist and industrialist, was born in Kanazawa, Kaga Province, Japan, the son of Seiichi Takamine, a samurai and a physician, and Yukiko Tsuda. He graduated as a chemical engineer from the Imperial Engineering College (later part of the Imperial University) in Tokyo in 1878. He spent three years at the University of Glasgow and Anderson’s College in Glasgow studying chemistry, sent by the Japanese government....

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Warren, Cyrus Moors (15 January 1824–13 August 1891), chemist and manufacturer, was born in West Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Jesse Warren, a blacksmith and inventor of iron implements, and Betsey Jackson. Though a skilled blacksmith, Warren’s father proved to be a poor businessman. The family consequently moved many times, first from Massachusetts to Vermont and then twice within Vermont, making it difficult for young Cyrus to receive the type of education he wished. Cyrus and his next older brother, Samuel, resolved that the only way to get the education they desired was to start a business and thus obtain financial independence. In 1846 Samuel moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to establish a business making tar paper, which was just being introduced as a roofing material. Cyrus joined Samuel in 1847, and the business proved to be such a success that Samuel was soon free to study the law. The success of the business was due in part to the brothers’ use of coal tar instead of the usual pine pitch for coating the paper....

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Weightman, William (30 September 1813–25 August 1904), manufacturer, chemist, and financier, was born in Waltham, Lincolnshire, England, the son of William Weightman and Anne Farr. Weightman emigrated to the United States when he was sixteen at the suggestion of his uncle John Farr, a chemist and founder of the firm Farr & Kunzi, established in 1818. Farr & Kunzi was the first company to experiment with conchona alkaloids in the United States, at the same time that Pellatier and Gaventou were announcing their discovery of that substance in 1820. Weightman entered the firm in 1820, and when Kunzi retired in 1836, Weightman and another associate, Thomas Powers, formed Farr, Powers & Weightman. In 1841 Weightman married Louise Stelwagon; they had three children....