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Oral history interviews on Wallace Carothers

1978
 Collection
Identifier: 1994-311

Abstract

Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) was chemist and inventor of Neoprene artificial rubber and Nylon synthetic fiber. He worked as a chemist in E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's Fundamental Research Program from 1928 until his death in 1937. This collection contains five interviews conducted in July and August of 1978 with Wallace Carothers’s friends and colleagues. The interviewees primarily share stories and focus on their feelings surrounding Carothers’s personality, work, and suicide.

Dates

  • 1978

Creator

Extent

5 item(s)

Biographical Note

Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937) was chemist and inventor of Neoprene artificial rubber and Nylon synthetic fiber. He worked as a chemist in E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's Fundamental Research Program from 1928 until his death in 1937. Carothers was educated in the public schools of Des Moines, Iowa; received his Bachelors at Tarkio College in Missouri and a Doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois. In 1926 he was appointed instructor of organic chemistry at Harvard University. Two years later Carothers was selected to head the research unit in organic chemistry at the DuPont Company.

At DuPont, Carothers work focused on polymerization and the ways in which polymers structurally analogous to cellulose and silk could be prepared. In early 1930 the chemists in Carothers' laboratory produced neoprene (synthetic rubber) and the first laboratory-synthesized fiber. In 1934, still working on polymerization theory, Carothers produced the first polyamide fiber which was later to become known as Nylon. During the next two years, Carothers suffered frequent bouts of depression. On April 29, 1937, three weeks after the basic Nylon patent application was filed, he committed suicide.

Scope and Content

This collection contains five interviews conducted in July and August of 1978 with Wallace Carothers’s friends and colleagues. The interviewees primarily share stories and focus on their feelings surrounding Carothers’s personality, work, and suicide. Helen Sweetman, Carothers’s wife, is also a common subject. Other topics include the DuPont Experimental Station, life in mid-twentieth century Wilmington, Delaware, and Carothers’s election to the National Academy of Sciences.

The interviews were conducted by Adeline Bassett Cook Strange.

Adeline Bassett Cook Strange (also known as A.B.C Strange or Cookie) (1917-2004) was a teacher, researcher, and volunteer who spent her life dedicated to various charitable projects around Wilmington, Delaware. She taught at the Tatnall School from 1939 to 1942 and was active in the organization of The Green Show, Hagley Associates, and the annual Point-to-Point races at Winterthur.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Material

Oral history project notes on Wallace Carothers (Accession 1985), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Oral history interviews on Wallace Carothers
Status:
Online
Author:
Ona Coughlan
Date:
2019.
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400