Roy G. Neville
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Roy G. Neville begins the interview by tracing his family history back to the year 700. He discusses his immediate family and his childhood in Bournemouth, England. Neville admits that he was not very impressed with his first chemistry lesson, but was intrigued by doing chemistry experiments in his makeshift home laboratory. He excelled academically and was accepted at Balliol College, University of Oxford. However, Neville was drafted into an industry of “national importance” and was unable to attend Balliol. After a brief stint at Signals Research and Development Establishment, Neville met Professor Neil Kensington Adam, who allowed him to attended the University College Southampton part-time. Neville continued to excel and was invited to do graduate research in the US at the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, Neville received his master's degree and PhD and met his future wife, Jeanne. Neville goes on to describe his employment at various companies and the problem of being a chemist in industry. To combat this problem, he established Engineering and Technical Consultants, Inc. Being an entrepreneur allowed Neville to spend more of his time and money on collecting rare books. He details the start and growth of his rare book collection and his near decision to sell the collection in 1965. He discusses his competitors, how he obtained many of his rare treasures, and the start of The Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Finally, Neville concludes the interviews with reflections of his childhood in Bournemouth during the start of World War II.
|1951||University of London||BSc honours|
|1952||University of Oregon||MSc|
|1954||University of Oregon||PhD||Physical Organic Chemistry|
Monsanto Chemical Company
Boeing Airplane Company
Lockheed Missiles & Space Company
North American Aviation, Inc.
Boeing Science Research Labs
Engineering & Technical Consultants, Inc.
|1951 to 1952||
Fellow, U. S. Public Health Service
|1953 to 1954||
Fellow, Research Corporation
Fellow, Royal Institute of Chemistry, London
DSc (hon. ), Royal Institute of Chemistry, London
Founding of the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library at the Chemical Heritage Foundation
Lifetime Achievement Award, Chemical Heritage Foundation
Establishment of the Roy G. Neville Fellowship, Chemical Heritage Foundation
Establishment of the Roy G. Neville Prize in Bibliography or Biography, Chemical Heritage Foundation
Table of Contents
Family history. Problematic birth. Pyloric stenosis. Experiences at Winton and Moordown School in Bournemouth. First chemistry lesson. Using his home chemistry lab to make a bomb. Academic prowess. Acceptance into Balliol College, University of Oxford and the start of World War II. An industry of national importance. Signals Research and Development Establishment. Professor Neil Kensington Adam. University College Southampton. Work at the British Gas Board. Kenneth Edward Hayes and Professor Robert B. Dean.
Traveling to the United States. The language barrier. Eugene, Oregon and the Deans. Master's degree. Biochemistry and meeting the future Mrs. Neville. Courtship and marriage of Jeanne and Roy. George Gorin and coordination compounds. Ph.D. work.
American-Marietta Company. Peter Gordon Howe. Monsanto Chemical Company. Becoming a U. S. citizen. Entrepreneurial work with Joe Majnarich. Boeing Airplane Company. Lockheed Missiles & Space Company. Money issues. Aerospace Corporation. Tom Dudek. Sol Skolnik. Marion Thomas O'Shaughnessy. North American Aviation Inc. HC3. Bechtel Corporation.
Work with Krebs Engineers. Founding of Engineering and Technical Consultants, Inc. Homestake Mining Company. Kerr Magee Corporation. Investing in Montana 8, Texas 9, and Texas 10.
Chest pains during a trip to Bournemouth. Baby aspirin and an operation. Angioplasty. Having a quintuple bypass. Diagnosed with Paget's disease and prostate cancer. An important call to Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts from his hospital bed.
Start of collection. Book Collecting as a Hobby in a Series of Letters to Everyman. Elsevier Press. Robert Boyle. Jeanne's interest in and support of collecting. The Sceptical Chymist. Decision to sell collection in 1965. Dealing with rare book dealers. Franz Sondheimer. Macquer's Dictionnaire de Chymie. William A. Cole. Sondheimer's visit to Neville's private library. Arnold Thackray. Sondheimer's suicide. Competition with other rare book collectors. Denis Duveen.
Cataloguing the collection. Growth rate of collection. Linda Hall Library. Selling the collection to the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Gordon E. Moore.
Interest in engravings and art. Alchemical paintings. Daughters, Laura and Janet. Reflections of childhood experiences in Bournemouth during World War II.
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.