Dale B. Baker

Born: September 19, 1920 | Bucyrus, OH, US
Died: Sunday, December 11, 2005 | Columbus, OH, US

While a student, Baker began working for the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Chemical Abstracts Service as an office boy. Aside from a brief time as a chemist working with explosives at DuPont, Baker spent his entire career with the ACS and Chemical Abstracts Service. In 1946, Baker became assistant editor of Chemical Abstracts. In 1958, Baker became Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, a position he held until 1986. Baker was instrumental in developing an on-line system for Chemical Abstracts in the early 1980s. 

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

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0160
No. of pages: 101
Minutes: 360

Interview Sessions

Robert V. Williams and Leo B. Slater
9 June 1997
Columbus, Ohio

Abstract of Interview

Dale Baker begins the interview with a discussion of his early years and family background. Inspired by a high school teacher, Baker decided to major in chemical engineering upon entering Ohio State University in 1938, receiving his Bachelor's of Chemical Engineering in 1942 and his Master's of Science in Chemistry in 1948. While a student, Baker began working for the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Chemical Abstracts Service as an office boy. Aside from a brief time as a chemist working with explosives at DuPont, Baker spent his entire career with the ACS and Chemical Abstracts Service. In 1946, Baker became assistant editor of Chemical Abstracts. He took on the extra responsibilities of managing the publications' finances and administrative coordination. Baker and his staff at Chemical Abstracts learned indexing and abstracting through hands-on work while seeking to automate and quicken the availability of chemical information. In 1958, Baker became Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, a position he held until 1986. Baker was instrumental in developing an on-line system for Chemical Abstracts in the early 1980s. While Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, Baker also served the ACS in various capacities, from Acting Executive to Director Emeritus. Baker concludes the interview with a discussion of management techniques, and reflections on his career and family. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1942 Ohio State University BChE Chemical Engineering
2016 Ohio State University MSc Chemistry

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1942 to 1945
Chemist-Surpervisor

Chemical Abstracts Service

1946 to 1950
Assistant Editor
1951 to 1957
Associate Editor
1958
Associate Director
1958 to 1986
Director

American Chemical Society

1965 to 1966
Acting Executive
1972
Acting Manager
1980
Chief Operating Officer
1983 to 1986
Deputy Executive Director
1986 to 1998
Director Emeritus

Honors

Year(s) Award
1968

Boss of the Year, Columbus Junior Chamber of Commerce

1968

Technical Man of the Year, Columbus Technical Council

1968

Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station

1970

Alumni Centennial Award, OSU Alumni Association

1970

Distinguished Alumnus Award, OSU College of Engineering

1971

Twenty-five year Service Award, American Chemical Society

1973

Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station

1974

Miles G. Conrad Award, NFAIS

1977

Doctor of Sacology, US Air Force, Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska

1979

Patterson-Crane Award, American Chemical Society

1983

Award of Merit, American Society of Information Science

1986

Directors, Officers, Councilors, Management, and Staff Award on Retirement American Chemical Society

1986

Honorary PhD, The Ohio State University

1986

Herman Skolnik Award, ACS Division of Chemical Information

1987 to 1998

Honorary Fellowship, Royal Society of Chemistry

1991

Hall of Fame Inductee, Ohio Science, Technology & Industry

1992

Professional Achievement Award, OSU Alumni Association

1993

Distinguished Service Award, ACS Board of Directors

1997

Honorary Chairman, ACS Cols. Sect. Centennial (1897-1997)

Table of Contents

Beginnings
1

Growing up in Bucyrus, Ohio. Interest in science. Attending Ohio State University. First job with Chemical Abstracts Service. Working for DuPont. Getting master's degree.

Early Career
6

Leaving DuPont. Returning to Chemical Abstracts Service. Working with Dr. E. J. Crane. History of Chemical Abstracts. Becoming Assistant Editor. Hiring and training chemists to write nomenclature. Becoming Director of Chemical Abstracts Service.

Developing Chemical Abstracts Service
16

Hiring J. Malcolm Dyson. Test issues of Chemical Titles. Seeking grant from National Science Foundation. Difficulty with nomenclature. Indexing techniques for Chemical Abstracts.

Career with Chemical Abstracts Service
28

Information management. Fred A. Tate. Automation efforts. Improving internal processing of information. Contracts with the National Cancer Institute and the Food & Drug Administration. Interacting with the American Chemical Society board. Board decision to make Chemical Abstracts Service self-supporting. Borrowing from the ACS General Fund.

World Information
41

Discussing an on-line system. Working with British, German, Japanese, French, and Russian information societies. Formation of National Federation of Science Abstracting and Indexing Services. Visiting Russia's VINITI. DIALOG. Going on-line. DIALOG lawsuit.

Information Services
56

Marketing information. Threat of government take-over of information management. Eugene Garfield. Chemical registry system. Years as president of American Society for Information Science. Science Libraries Association and ASIS merger. National information policy.

Management
73

Nationalization of information policy. Managing Chemical Abstracts Service. Team work. SATCOM. Importance of chemical registry system. Positive effect of automation of Chemical Abstracts.

Final Thoughts
82

Reflections on family. Thoughts on history of chemistry. Information science education programs.

Notes
89
Index
92

About the Interviewer

Robert V. Williams

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a PhD in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an MS in library and information science from Florida State University; and an MA in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.

Leo B. Slater

Leo Slater was the 2001–2002 John C. Haas Fellow and a senior research historian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, where he also served as Director of Historical Services from 1997 to 2000. A former research chemist at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, he received his doctorate in History from Princeton University in 1997.