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Bache, Franklin (25 October 1792–19 March 1864), physician, chemist, and author, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Benjamin Franklin Bache, a noted anti-Federalist journalist, and Margaret Hartman Markoe Bache. Franklin Bache’s grandmother, Sarah Franklin Bache, was Benjamin Franklin’s daughter. He received a classical education in the academy of the Reverend Samuel D. Wylie and was awarded both his A.B. in 1810 and his M.D. in 1814 by the University of Pennsylvania. He studied medicine privately with ...

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Richard D. Caldwell

Calvin, Melvin (08 April 1911–09 January 1997), chemist, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Elias Calvin and Rose Hervitz-Calvin. His father immigrated to New York from Kalvaria in Lithuania, and his mother came to the United States from the Georgian province of Russia. An excellent source of information about Calvin's early life is his autobiography, ...

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Conant, James Bryant (26 March 1893–11 February 1978), educator and scientist, was born in the Dorchester section of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Scott Conant, a photo engraver and real estate developer, and Jennett Orr. Conant attended the Roxbury Latin School, a public boys’ six-year examination school in Boston, and subsequently attended graduate school at Harvard University on an academic scholarship, where he studied chemistry with Nobel Prize winner ...

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Mallet, John William (10 October 1832–07 November 1912), chemist, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert Mallet and Cordelia Watson. Under the guidance of his father, a fellow of the Royal Society and owner of one of the largest engineering works in Ireland, John developed a taste for scientific studies at an early age. He made use of his father’s extensive library and conducted experiments in a private laboratory that his father provided. At the age of sixteen he attended the chemical lectures of Dr. James Apjohn at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, who also provided Mallet with private laboratory instruction. This association led to the publication of his first paper in 1850, on the “Notice of a New Chemical Examination of Killinite” ( ...

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Mapes, James Jay (29 May 1806–10 January 1866), chemist and writer, was born in Maspeth, New York, the son of Jonas Mapes, a merchant and importer, and Elizabeth Tylee. While at a boarding school on Long Island, Mapes lived for a time with the English reformer William Cobbett. As a scientist, however, he was largely self-taught....

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Priestley, Joseph (13 March 1733–06 February 1804), theologian, scientist, and educator, was born in the parish of Birstal, West Riding, Yorkshire, England, the son of Jonas Priestley, a cloth-dresser, and Mary Swift. After his mother’s death in childbirth in 1739, Priestley was adopted in 1742 by his father’s eldest sister, Sarah Keighley. Early inclined to books, he mastered Latin and the elements of Greek, probably in Batley grammar school, and studied Hebrew with John Kirkby, a Congregationalist minister. Priestley acquiesced to Keighley’s wish that he prepare for the Presbyterian ministry, but poor health stood in the way of his education. An uncle offered him a mercantile career in Lisbon, which led Priestley to teach himself French, German, and Italian, and to take instruction in mathematics. In 1751 he returned to the original plan, enrolling in the new dissenters’ academy just opened in Daventry by Caleb Ashworth, who imposed no religious tests on the students. At Daventry, Priestley embraced the Arian view that Jesus was the highest of created beings rather than of the same substance as God and maintained a qualified belief in the doctrine of the Atonement, which he abandoned later as supported neither by scripture nor by reason. Priestley became assistant minister to a congregation in Needham Market, Suffolk, in 1755. When in a course of lectures it became clear that he was no Trinitarian, the congregation fell away. Priestley fared better in 1758, becoming minister at Nantwich in Cheshire to an Independent congregation that included many Scottish commercial travelers....

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Semon, Waldo Lonsbury (10 September 1898–26 May 1999), research chemist who invented malleable synthetic compounds, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), commonly known as "vinyl", research chemist who invented malleable synthetic compounds, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), commonly known as “vinyl,” was born in Demopolis, Alabama, the son of Flora Blanche Lonsbury and Franklin Emerson Semon, a civil engineer. The family remained in Demopolis only until Semon's father completed contracted work and then moved, a career pattern that resulted in Semon attending schools in nine towns in five states before graduating from Lincoln High School in Seattle in 1916. A prodigy who excelled in the sciences at an early age, he was often bored in the classroom and began conducting electrical experiments at home as a child. He spent his teenage summers working on surveying crews at jobs normally requiring a college diploma. In an interview for his biography, he said, “At 17, I think I was rather conceited. I had read most of the scientific books in the [Seattle libraries]. I could read a great deal of German. I had been on the high school debating team and read many of the decisions of the Supreme Court. There was a great question in my mind whether I should go to college at all. After all, college graduates were so stuffy” (Smith, p. 13). To his parents' dismay, he refused to apply to college....

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Wiley, Harvey Washington (18 October 1844–30 June 1930), chemist and pure food crusader, was born in Jefferson County, Indiana, the son of Preston Pritchard, a farmer, Campbellite lay preacher, and schoolmaster, and Lucinda Weir Maxwell. Harvey’s attendance at Hanover College (1863–1867), from which he received the B.A. degree, was interrupted by service as a hundred-day volunteer (May–Sept. 1864) with the 137th Indiana Regiment in Tennessee. After a year of teaching and a summer’s apprenticeship with a Kentucky physician (1868), Wiley attended Indiana Medical College (1869–1871), where he ultimately earned his M.D., simultaneously teaching at Northwestern Christian University (later Butler University) and the Indianapolis high school. He then taught chemistry at both his medical school and Butler. During 1872–1873 Wiley spent some months at the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University, adding a B.S. to his M.D. Wiley was appointed the first professor of chemistry at the newly opened Purdue University, from 1874 to 1883, and state chemist (1881). In 1878 Wiley observed at German universities and studied food chemistry at the German Imperial Health Office. Back at Purdue, his research in the chemistry of sugars and the adulteration of cane syrup led to his appointment as chief chemist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883....