Willard C. Asbury

Born: December 16, 1900 | Portland, ME, US
Died: Sunday, April 27, 1986 | Westfield, NJ, US

In this joint interview, Donald Green and Willard Asbury recount the early years at Standard Oil Development Company and the influence of Frank Howard and Eger Murphree. The arc process is discussed as well as the level of assistance obtained from IG Farben. Green and Asbury recall the IG research organization; the wartime pressures during the development of GR-S; and the problems at the Baton Rouge plant. Asbury tells of his visit to Germany with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and the political recriminations of the prewar cooperation between Standard Oil and IG Farben are recollected, as are visits to Germany in the 1930s and 1950s.

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0065
No. of pages: 52
Minutes: 143

Interview Sessions

Peter J T Morris
9 December 1985
Westfield, New Jersey

Abstract of Interview

Peter Morris starts this interview by asking Donald Green and Willard Asbury about the early years at Standard Oil Development Company and the influence of Frank Howard and Eger Murphree.  The arc process is discussed as well as the level of assistance obtained from IG Farben; Green and Asbury recall the IG research organization.  The wartime pressures during the development of GR-S, and the problems at the Baton Rouge plant are discussed by Green, while Asbury tells of his visit to Germany with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.  The political recriminations of the prewar cooperation between Standard Oil and IG Farben are recollected as are visits to Germany in the 1930s and 1950s.  The interview ends with a survey of the postwar move into chemicals, the Ziegler process and the future of the oil and petrochemical industries.     [NOTE:  Both Donald Green and Willard Asbury died before this interview was edited and annotated.]

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1925 Massachusetts Institute of Technology SB Chemical Engineering

Professional Experience

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1925 to 1927
Research Assistant, Laboratory of Applied Chemistry

Standard Oil Company of Louisiana

1927 to 1929
Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Development Company

1929 to 1930
Chemical Engineer
1933 to 1935
Chemical Engineer
1940 to 1941
Assistant to the Vice President
1941 to 1947
Manager, Research and Development

Hydrogenation Engineering and Chemical Company, Standard Oil

1930 to 1933
Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil International Company

1935 to 1936
Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Company

1936 to 1940
Executive, International Associates Ltd.

Esso Research and Engineering Company

1947 to 1964
Vice President and Director
1964 to 1965
Executive Vice President

Table of Contents

Standard Oil Development Company
1

Recollections of Frank Howard and Eger Murphree. The arc process, assistance from IG Farben. Paul Baumann. Organization of research groups at IG. Martin Müller-Conradi. Butyl rubber process.

Wartime Synthetic Rubber Program
18

Wartime pressures. Development of GR-S. Problems at the Baton Rouge plant. Reactor kinetics. Association with Flory.

Germany
25

Asbury's visit to Germany with U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey; effectiveness of Allied bombing. Rubber from Oil. Recriminations of Standard Oil/IG Farben prewar agreement. Recollections of Germany pre- and postwar. Postwar move into chemicals. The Ziegler process. Future of oil and petrochemical industries.

Notes
47
Index
49

About the Interviewer

Peter J T Morris

Peter J. T. Morris is currently at the Department of the History of Science and Technology of the Open University, where he is Royal Society-British Academy Research Fellow. Morris was educated at Oxford University receiving his BA, chemistry in 1978; DPhil, modern history in 1983, and he was a research fellow at the Open University from 1982 to 1984. During the period 1985–1987, Peter Morris was Assistant Director for Special Projects at the Beckman Center. He was the Royal Society–British Academy Research Fellow at the Open University, Milton Keynes, between 1987 and 1991, and Edelstein International Fellow in 1991–92. He is author of the monographs, Archives of the British Chemical Industry, 1800–1914 and Polymer Pioneers; his volume The American Synthetic Rubber Research Program was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in December 1989. Morris also co-edited Milestones in 150 Years of the Chemical Industry in 1991 and The Development of Plastics in 1994.