Howard S. Turner
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Howard S. Turner begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood and his early interest in chemistry. After attending the George School for two years, he attended Swarthmore College and received a bachelor's in chemistry. Shortly after graduating from Swarthmore in 1933, Turner was accepted as a PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1936, Turner received his PhD in chemistry with a minor in chemical engineering from MIT. Turner started his career with E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company working in the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware. While at DuPont, Turner researched new uses for polymer 66 and nylon, in addition to developing and testing Corfam. In 1947, after eleven years with DuPont, Turner left the company to become the director of research and development for the Pittsburgh Consolidated Coal Company. In 1954, Turner left Pittsburg Consolidated to become the vice president of research and development for Jones & Laughlin Steel Company (J&L). At J&L, Turner reorganized and focused the company's research and development program. In 1965, Turner left J&L to become president of Turner Construction Company, in New York. The company, started in 1902 by his uncle, was among the top construction firms in the country. Turner became chairman of the board in 1971, and remained so until his retirement in 1978. Turner concludes the interview by describing his affiliations with other companies and a short reflection on his career.
|1936||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||PhD||Chemistry with a Minor in Chemical Engineering|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Pittsburgh Consolidated Coal Company
Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation
Turner Construction Company
Table of Contents
Founding of the family business. Early interest in chemistry. Early experiments.
Chemistry at Swarthmore. Summer job with Sinclair Oil. PhD program at MIT. Studying Friedel-Crafts reaction. Meeting Katharine S. Turner.
Experimental Station. Robert B. Woodward. Corfam shoes. Expanding uses of nylon.
Coal to gas program. Major reorganization and refocus of research and development.
Expansion of the family business. Succession to the top.
Affiliations and reflections.
About the Interviewer
Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.