Izaak M. Kolthoff
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
In this interview Professor Izaak Kolthoff begins by discussing his early life in Holland, his family, and his education. Kolthoff continues with the factors influencing his decision to become an analytical chemist, and he describes the early state of analytical chemistry compared to other branches of chemistry. The interview then focuses on accusations of Communist sympathies and the effects of the McCarthy era on Kolthoff's career. Kolthoff concludes with a brief discussion of his work on crystal surfaces, the relocation of European scientists during the 1930s, and his participation in synthetic rubber research during World War II.
|1915||University of Utrecht||Diploma|
|1918||University of Utrecht||PhD||Chemistry|
University of Utrecht
University of Minnesota
Nichols Medal, American Chemical Society
Minnesota Award, American Chemical Society
Charles Medal, Charles University, Prague
Willard Gibbs Medal, American Chemical Society
Polarographic Medal, British Polarographic Society
Kolthoff Gold Medal, Academy of Pharmaceutical Science
Olin-Palladium Medal, Electrochemical Society
Table of Contents
Parents' religious life. Acquires nickname of "Piet. " Early schooling in Holland. Acquires an interest in science. Moves away from family religion. Experience with anti-Semitism. Educational structure of the Gymnasium.
Comparison of European and American college-level education. Earns degree in pharmacy. Instructor encourages his interest in chemistry. Publishes paper on electrical conductance. Relationship with Hans Cohen. Decision to visit the U. S. in 1924. Influence of Wilhelm Ostwald's book. Influence of Schoorl, his teacher. Meets other chemists at IUPAC meeting in Utrecht. Walther Nernst. Peter Debye.
Synthetic rubber research. Consulting with Interscience. Potientiometric titrations with N. Howell Furman. Oldrich Tomicek. Jaroslav Heyrovsky. Analytical chemistry as maidservant of other fields. Analytical chemistry in the United States. IUPAC view of analytical chemistry. Convinces Noyes to include a section of analytical chemistry in JACS.
Accused of being Communist sympathizer. John Cowles. Senator Child. Meeting with Frederic Joliot-Curie in 1945. Support of international meeting. Name in Communist newspaper. Career further damaged in McCarthy era. Charles Turck. House Un-American Activities Committee. Judy Holliday. Heads group to get Rosenberg conviction reversed.
Work on surface of crystals. Use of radioactivity to measure surface perfections on crystals. Visits by Otto Hahn and Heyrovsky. Friendship with Hahn. An-ions, cat-ions, and on-ions. Visits to Czechoslovakia. Relocation of European scientists in 1930s. F. G. Donnan.
Quarrel with Eugene Ormandy. Outstanding graduate students at Minnesota. Early work on synthetic rubber. Relationship between academics and industry during synthetic rubber work. William O. Baker. Scarcity of analytical chemists as Nobel Laureates.
About the Interviewer
George D. Tselos holds a BA in biology from Carleton College, and an MA and PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. As a specialist in archival administration, he held a position with the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University before joining the Center for History of Chemistry (now the Chemical Heritage Foundation) as Assistant Director for Archives.