Edwin J. Vandenberg

Born: September 13, 1918 | Hawthorne, NJ, US
Died: June 11, 2005 | Franklin, TN, US

Edwin J. Vandenberg begins his oral history discussing his early interests in science and the decision to focus on chemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology. He began his career at Hercules working on paper chemistry, where he contributed to the understanding of paper sizing as a colloid phenomenon. After working on World War II production of smokeless powder, Vandenberg returned to the Hercules research, working on a wide range of polymer syntheses. The interview concludes with an account of his retirement activities at Arizona State University, and reflections on his family, colleagues and ACS activities.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0077
No. of pages: 65
Minutes: 90

Interview Sessions

Herman Skolnik
1 September 1987
New Orleans, Louisiana

Abstract of Interview

Edwin Vandenberg grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey, where his father owned a grain and feed store. After talking about his schooling, Vandenberg recalls a friend and his home laboratory. Attending Stevens Institute of Technology, Vandenberg concentrated on chemical subjects, influenced by F. J. Pond. His first years at Hercules were with Spurlin's paper chemistry group, where he contributed to the understanding of paper sizing as a colloid phenomenon. After a spell working on the wartime production of smokeless powder, Vandenberg returned to the Hercules research center to work on a wide range of polymer syntheses, which he describes in some detail. The interview concludes with an account of his retirement activities at Arizona State University, and reflections on his family, colleagues and ACS activities.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1939 Stevens Institute of Technology ME

Professional Experience

Hercules Incorporated

1939 to 1944
Research Chemist
1946 to 1957
Research Chemist
1957 to 1965
Senior Research Chemist
1965 to 1982
Research Associate

Sunflower Ordinance Works

1944 to 1945
Assistant Shift Supervisor

Arizona State University

1983
Adjunct Professor of Chemistry
1983
Visiting Professor of Chemistry

Honors

Year(s) Award
1964

Best Paper Award, Delaware Section, American Chemical Society

1965

Industrial Research 100 Award

1965

D Eng, Stevens Institute of Technology

1979

Delaware Section Award, American Chemical Society

1981

Award in Polymer Chemistry

1983

Polymer Chemistry Division Service Award

1991

Award in Applied Polymer Science

Table of Contents

Childhood and Schooling
1

Growing up in Hawthorne, New Jersey. School activities, violin in school orchestra. Friend with home chemistry laboratory.

College Education
11

Stevens Institute of Technology; engineering degree, with chemistry specialization. F. J. Pond and nature of Stevens teaching programs.

Hercules Corporation
16

Spurlin and paper chemistry. The sizing process and the electrostatic theory of rosin sizing.

Wartime Activities
19

Sunflower Ordinance Works, smokeless powder.

Hercules Research Center
22

Return to Wilmington. Emulsion polymerization, GR-S, redox initiation. Phenol process from cumene hydroperoxide. Copolymer synthesis. Ethylene polymerization. Hercules license of Ziegler process. Polypropylene production. Polyvinyl ethers and epoxy rubbers. Rigid-chain water-soluble polymers.

Retirement from Hercules
50

Family. ACS activities, Gordon conferences. Arizona State University and research activities.

Notes
60
Index
62

About the Interviewer

Herman Skolnik

Herman Skolnik received a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Hercules, Inc., as a research chemist in 1942, and served as a divisional research manager from 1952 until his retirement in 1979. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Chemical Documentation, and has published over 200 papers and four books, including A Century of Chemistry, the centennial history of the American Chemical Society.