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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....

Article

Dreyfus, Camille Edouard (11 November 1878–27 September 1956), industrial chemist and entrepreneur, was born in Basel, Switzerland, the son of Abraham Dreyfus, a banker, and Henrietta Wahl. Camille and his younger brother, Henri (later Americanized to Henry), both received their education at the University of Basel, being awarded their Ph.D.s in chemistry in 1902 and 1905, respectively. Camille also pursued postgraduate study at the Sorbonne in Paris until 1906. After working several years in Basel to gain industrial experience, Camille and his brother established a chemical laboratory in their home town. Seeking a product that the public would readily buy, they developed a synthetic indigo. Although they made some money in this venture, it quickly became clear that synthetic indigo did not have a sufficient market. Consequently the Dreyfus brothers focused their attention on celluloid, which at that time was produced only in a flammable form. They recognized that a large potential market existed for nonflammable celluloid, if it could be developed. They focused on cellulose acetate and were shortly producing one to two tons per day. Half of their output went to the motion picture industry for film, with the other half going into the production of toilet articles....

Article

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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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....

Article

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....