William J. Bailey
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
The late Bill Bailey starts the interview by describing his upbringing in rural Minnesota, where his family operated a small lumber business. An outstanding high school teacher sparked Bailey's interest in science, which became focused on chemistry during his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where Lee Irving Smith was a major influence. Indeed, Smith was largely responsible for Bailey's move to Illinois for graduate work with Speed Marvel and research on polymer synthesis. After a year at MIT as postdoctoral assistant to Cope, William Bailey started his teaching career at Wayne University; here he started his noted combination of organic and polymer chemistry. Five years after going to Detroit, Bailey accepted a research professorship at the University of Maryland where he spent the rest of his career. The interview concludes with an account of Bailey's long involvement with the American Chemical Society, including his presidency in 1975, and his thoughts on the current image of chemistry.
|1943||University of Minnesota||B.Chem|
|1946||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||PhD|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wayne State University
University of Maryland, College Park
Fatty Acid Producers Research Award
Service Award, Washington Section, American Chemical Society
Welch Foundation Lecturer
Research Award, Gulf Oil Foundation
Honor Scroll, District of Columbia Chapter, American Institute of Chemists
President, American Chemical Society
Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Minnesota
Rauscher Memorial Lecturer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Polymer Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society
Scientific Achievement Award, University of Maryland Chapter, Sigma Xi
Gossett Award Lecturer, North Carolina State University
Mobay Award Lecturer, College of Charleston
Hillebrand Prize, Chemical Society of Washington
Applied Polymer Science Award, American Chemical Society
Henry Hill Award, American Chemical Society
Table of Contents
Growing up in rural Minnesota during the Depression. Family lumber business. High school teacher sparks interest in science, despite poor facilities. Athletics.
Rooming with brother, college athletics. Move to college of engineering and decision to major in chemistry. Faculty and influence of Lee Irving Smith.
PhD program with Carl Marvel. Wartime rubber program. Colleagues and junior faculty. A memorable softball game. Laboratory facilities and incidents.
Situation at MIT, new organic faculty. Research on cyclo-octatetraene.
Assistant professor at Wayne. Neil Gordon and Herbert Brown. Teaching load, start of own research school. First all-cis-diene polymer.
Research professorship. Chemical Corps and ACS committee. Ladder polymers. Monomers that expand on polymerization. Applications.
Regional activities in ACS. Policy as President. Public affairs and the image of chemistry. Chemistry and college students. Polymer education and fashions in chemistry. Journals. Changes in organic and polymer chemistry over career.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.