Charles C. Price
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
During the course of this interview, Charles Price discusses his life and career as a chemist. Initially, he recalls his childhood, early education, and undergraduate life at Swarthmore College. Price then speaks about his teachers and colleagues at Harvard University, where he did graduate work. Considerations about his work at the University of Illinois, his first faculty appointment, and research for the National Defense Research Committee during the war follow. Price explains why he assumed the chairmanship of the department of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame and why he convened the first Conference on Organic Reaction Mechanisms, a landmark in the development of physical organic chemistry. Price elucidates his research at Notre Dame and then at the University of Pennsylvania, where, as chairman, he helped to rebuild the department of chemistry. The interview concludes with Price discussing his more recent chemical research, the current state of physical organic chemistry, his family, and his political and sporting activities.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York
University of Notre Dame
National Research Council
University of Pennsylvania
Award in Pure Chemistry, American Chemical Society
Table of Contents
Parents, grandmother, and siblings. Influence of Jerry Creighton and Louis Fieser. An entrepreneurial father and a Quaker tradition. The George School, science courses, and sports.
The honors program at Swarthmore. Other chemistry students. Edward H. Cox. Mathematics, history and philosophy of science. "Ducky" Holmes and Brand Blanchard.
Becoming a chemist. Coursework with Kohler. Research with Fieser on reaction mechanisms. Kistiakowsky. The impact of Huckel's work. Electrostatic versus resonance effects. Colleagues and ambience at Harvard.
A post-doc with Roger Adams. Teaching organic chemistry. Speed Marvel. Academic salaries. Early research problems. Polymerization.
The conference at Notre Dame on organic mechanisms. The impact of Hammett's book. Resonance factors. Paul Bartlett. World War II and the unification of physical organic chemistry.
Electrophilic substitution and resonance effects. Water decontamination and the behavior of mustards. Paul Bartlett, Saul Winstein, and other colleagues. Antimalarials and Roy Roberts.
Teaching at Illinois. The Notre Dame appointment. Colleagues at Illinois and Notre Dame. Bob Woodward.
Mustards and chemotherapy. DNA alkylation. RNA synthesis and evolution.
A changing discipline. Some unsolved problems. Biochemical and solid state applications. Rubber research and polypropylene oxides. Building a department at Notre Dame. Chemistry at Penn.
United World Federalists. Running for political office. Disarmament sentiments.
Wife and children. Sally Price, champion sailor. Reminiscences of colleagues.
About the Interviewer
Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds AB and MS degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.