J. Franklin Hyde

Born: March 11, 1903 | Solvay, NY, US
Died: October 11, 1999 | Marco Island, FL, US

J. Franklin Hyde discusses his university studies in chemistry, which culminated in a PhD in organic chemistry with Roger Adams and a postdoctoral at Harvard University. Hyde accepted a position at Corning Glass Works as a research chemist and later became the manager of the organic laboratory. Hyde later joined Dow Corning Corporation, where he continued management and research on equilibrium hydrolysis and bond rearrangement in siloxanes.

Access This Interview

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


Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0026
No. of pages: 55
Minutes: 270

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
30 April 1986
Marco Island, Florida

Abstract of Interview

In this interview Franklin Hyde briefly tells of his childhood and his schooling in Solvay, New York. At Syracuse University, Hyde majored in chemistry and continued on to a master's degree. It was during this period, under the influence of Reginald Boehner that Hyde became an organic chemist and he continued with that specialty with Roger Adams at Illinois and then with Conant at Harvard. He recalls both his colleagues and the faculty at Urbana and at Cambridge. Despite an offer to join Carothers at DuPont, Hyde chose to accept the challenge of a position with Corning Glass works, where he was the lone organic chemist. At Corning, Hyde started his studies of organosilicon compounds and where he entered the growing field of polymer chemistry. During the interview Franklin Hyde summarizes several of his research endeavors that contributed to the present-day importance of silicones. Included in this section of the interview are instances of the critical role of newly introduced materials to the scientific contribution to World War II. Hyde also describes the chronology of the competition between Corning and General Electric that eventually led to a major patent interference suit. The interview ends with a survey of Hyde's later work with Dow Corning and his reflections on laboratory research and scientific management.


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1923 Syracuse University AB Chemistry
1925 Syracuse University MA Chemistry
1928 University of Illinois at Chicago PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

Harvard University

1928 to 1930
Postdoctoral Fellow

Corning Glass Works

1930 to 1938
Research Chemist
1938 to 1951
Manager, Organic Laboratory

Dow Corning Corporation

1951 to 1975


Year(s) Award

Distinguished Achievement Award, Dow Corning Corporation


Honorary DSc, Syracuse University


Outstanding Inventor Citation, Michigan Patent Law Association


Whitehead Memorial Lecturer, Engineering Section, National Research Council


Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)


Midgley Award, Detroit Section, American Chemical Society


Honorary DSc, Michigan State University


Elected to Plastics Hall of Fame, Society of the Plastics Industry


Silicone Pioneer Award, Dow Corning Corporation


Five of Genius Award, Saginaw Valley Patent Law Association

Table of Contents


Family background. Summer work with horsedrawn transportation. Schooling, development of liking for chemistry.

University Studies at Syracuse and Illinois

Concentration on math and chemistry at Syracuse, faculty and colleagues. Organic chemistry and master's degree. Graduate studies at Illinois and recollections of faculty and fellow students. Experiences as teaching assistant. Research with Roger Adams, recollections of Marvel and Carothers. Marriage.

Postdoctoral Study at Harvard

Research on chlorophyll. Reminiscences of Conant and other colleagues at Harvard. Effects of the Depression. Circumstances of acceptance of position as an organic chemist at Corning Glass Works.

Research at Corning

Initial research projects at Corning. Polymers and organosilicon compounds. Dispute with Kipping. Competition in silicone research with General Electric Company. Wartime activities and expansion of the research group.

Transfer to Midland

Resumption of research at Dow Corning, Midland. Continuous polymerization system. Study of equilibrium hydrolysis and bond rearrangement in siloxanes. Research and management.


About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

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.