Herman E. Schroeder
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Herman Schroeder starts the interview by discussing his family background and growing up in Brooklyn. An early learner, Schroeder attended public and private high schools where his scientific interests were first aroused. After an early graduation he entered Harvard, and initially planned for a career in medicine. However, Schroeder soon set his mind on chemistry, in part influenced by his tutor, John Edsall. Staying on at Harvard for graduate study in the physical aspects of organic chemistry, Herman Schroeder investigated the rates and mechanism of the closure of large rings. He discusses the choice between industrial and academic careers and the advice of the Harvard faculty. Arriving at the DuPont Experimental Station in 1938, Schroeder outlines his initial assignments and his important wartime research on tire cord adhesives. Transferring to the Jackson Laboratories, he worked on both dyestuff synthesis and the mechanisms of dyeing synthetic fibers, as well as obtaining experience in production control. Moving to greater research responsibilities, Schroeder played an important role in the development of several polymers, which is described towards the end of the first interview. In a second interview, Ferguson asks Schroeder to comment on some of his DuPont colleagues and on some of the academic consultants to the company. The interview concludes with some of Schroeder's retirement activities and a full account of the Louisville plant explosion.
|1939||Harvard University||PhD||Organic Chemistry|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Schroeder Scientific Services, Inc.
summa cum laude, Harvard University
Phi Beta Kappa
General Award, International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers
Goodyear Medal, American Chemical Society, Rubber Division
Table of Contents
Parental background. Prejudice against German name. Public and private schools in New York. Interest in science, early graduation from high school.
Concentration on chemistry, Edsall as tutor. Courses and faculty. Graduate study in physical organic chemistry, the rate of closure of large rings. Marriage. Discusses choice of industrial over academic position and reaction of faculty.
Intermediates for polymers. Hydrocarbon chlorination, correcting ICI results. Wartime research on tire cord adhesives. Colleagues at the Experimental Station. Patents and reports. Rubbery fluoropolymers.
Dyestuff chemistry. Problems with new pigments plant. Rates and mechanisms of dyeing, dispute with Pauling. Marketing and business strategy. Return to polymers, the polyether-urethanes, segmented copolymers. Fluoropolymers.
Terpolymers with unconjugated dienes. Hypalon. Nordel, patent protection. Viton and successors. Kalrez.
Vamac, cost efficiency. Termination of research projects. Research direction in Elastomer Chemicals. DuPont personalities; Charch, Carter, Elley, Holbrook. Academic consultants.
Advising the Metropolitan Museum of Art on conservation. Chemical consulting. School board, Chester County. Professional organizations, Harvard visiting committee. Industrial safety, the Louisville explosion. Carcinogenic substances, toxicological testing.
About the Interviewer
Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.