Carter Litchfield collection on the history of fatty materialsCreation: 1707-2007 Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-2000
Carter Litchfield (1932-2007) an organic chemist who studied and specialized in edible fats and oils. In the course of his career Litchfield also built an interesting and significant collection of books, manuscripts, and ephemera relating to the history of fatty materials. The collection is arranged into seven series and includes his research with animal fats and fatty materials, collecting activities, research and publication on the history of oil mills around the world; the papers of Julius Lewkowitsch, the first authority on fats and fatty materials; the papers of Ellsworth C. Warner, founder of the Midland Linseed Products Company; and the correspondence of Frech Chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul
- Creation: 1707-2007
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-2000
- Litchfield, Carter (Person)
41 Linear Feet
Carter Litchfield (1932-2007) an organic chemist who studied and specialized in edible fats and oils. Litchfield, born on February 18, 1932, earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. Litchfield later earned Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Texas A&M after starting his professional career as a chemist for Procter & Gamble (P&G). During the mid- to late 1950s Litchfield worked in the Edible Research Section of the Chemical Division of P&G. His work there centered on shortening products like Crisco and margarine oils. Because of his work at Procter & Gamble, Litchfield developed an interest in the history of fatty materials, which he defined as high-calorie fats found in seeds and animals. Fatty oils include olive, linseed, soybean, cottonseed (all seed oils) as well as lard, tallow, and other animal body fats. Litchfield left P&G in 1960 to take a job as a research scientist at Texas A&M. After a few years at Texas A&M Litchfield decided to work towards his doctorate in organic chemistry.
Litchfield then spent nine years working at Rutgers University. His research activities revolved around soluble oils in marine mammals and aquatic sponges. Litchfield published his work on Amazon River dolphins in a 1970 article in Biomedical Life & Sciences. In 1972, Litchfield published the book Analysis of Triglycerides. While at Rutgers Litchfield founded Olearius Editions, a publication company dedicated to the history of vegetable oil and fat production. In 1979, Litchfield retired from Rutgers to pursue a new career researching and publishing works on the history of fatty oils.
Olearius Editions (named for the artisan in the Roman Empire who pressed oil from olives and sold it to the community) specialized in the publication of histories of the manufacture of vegetable oils and fats. Litchfield's first book, published in 1974 was an English translation of the 1836 Japanese work, Seiyu roku. One of Litchfield's most important Olearius publications was a book he co-authored, The Bethlehem Oil Mill, 1745-1934: German Technology in Early Pennsylvania (1984). The book featured first time translations of German documents detailing the craft and artisanship involved at the oil mill. His interest in oil mills extended well beyond Bethlehem, Pa. Litchfield researched and photographed oil mills all over the United States, Europe, and parts of the Middle East. Olearius Editions publications reflected Litchfield’s global scope with the publication of another translated work, History and Technology of Olive Oil in the Holy Land (1993). The Olearius version was partially translated from Hebrew with the addition of an original chapter not included in the original Hebrew publication. Litchfield also wrote and published through Olearius the definitive History of Oleomargarine Tax Stamps and Licenses in the United States (1988), a philatelic guide for the collecting of oleomargarine stamps. This book is known for its precise detail and dedication to an understudied topic.
As a member of the Society for Industrial Archeology (SIA) Litchfield regularly attended SIA meetings, functions, and conferences. He often presented papers to the SIA and sat on several committees, including the Vogel Prize committee. Litchfield researched the history of fats and fatty materials until his death on May 9, 2007 in Arlington, VA.
Carter Litchfield married his wife, Carol, in 1960. Like her husband, Carol Litchfield received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Texas A&M and taught at Rutgers University. Carol Litchfield taught for 10 years before taking a position at the DuPont Company as head of Environmental Toxicology at Haskell Laboratory and then as Senior Scientist for its bioremediation subsidiary. She then started her own consulting company and worked for Chester Environmental prior to joining the George Mason University faculty in 1993.
Carter Litchfield died on May 9, 2007.
The original order of the Litchfield Collection has been left largely intact.
Scope and Content
Carter Litchfield built an important collection on the subject of the history of fats and fatty materials. In addition, this Collection documents Litchfield’s activities as a chemist, historian, and collector. The library includes more than 5,000 books, many rare, which chronicle the history of fats and fatty materials; at least eight languages are represented and the collection spans 500 years. In the course of collecting, Litchfield acquired the Julius Lewkowitsch papers and purchased the Ellsworth C. Warner papers. Litchfield’s acquisitions were not limited to publications and manuscript collections. He amassed a collection of ephemera including tax stamps, posters, artifacts, photographs, and other items.
The Collection is arranged into seven series and includes his research with animal fats and fatty materials, collecting activities, research and publication on the history of oil mills around the world; the papers of Julius Lewkowitsch, the first authority on fats and fatty materials; the papers of Ellsworth C. Warner, founder of the Midland Linseed Products Company; and the correspondence of Frech Chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul. The Collection also contains records of Carol Litchfield's consulting work with Microbial Solutions.
The Collection acquisitions series documents Litchfield's collecting activities including purchase through private collectors and through online auctions sites like eBay.
Fats and fatty oil research series consists of Litchfield's own notebooks and quantitative data from research conducted at Procter & Gamble (fatty oils) and at Rutgers (cetacean and sponge lipids). The majority of the material in this series is contained either in binders or notebooks. The subseries of Cetacean Lipids and Sponge Lipids are comprised almost entirely of quantitative data.
Olearius Editions files documents Litchfield's publication, research, and writing activities during his career as founding editor and publisher of Olearius Editions, and includes business correspondence, accounts, drafts, proofs and notes for Litchfield's publications on oil mills, the oil industries, and oleomargarine stamps. Among the notes are early diaries and accounts (both originals and photocopies) for the Moravian Oil Mills at Bethlehem and notes and drawings on other oil mills around the world. There are also programs and papers of professional conferences on fats and lipids, mills, and industrial archeology. The subseries of American Oil Mills and Foreign Oil Mills are comprised almost entirely of binders containing research material collected by Litchfield.
Julius Lewkowitsch papers contains Julius Lewkowitsch’s research notes, "ideas" notebook, and manuscripts,including a manuscript for the unpublished seventh edition of The Chemical Technology and Analysis of Oils, Fats, and Waxes. This series also documents, in part, the lives of his wife, Katherine Warner, and daughter, Elsa Warner, including Elsa Warner’s correspondence with Carter and Carol Litchfield.
Ellsworth C. Warner papers documents Ellsworth Warner’s courtship of Mellie Bisbee and their subsequent divorce and includes a letterbook and correspondence between Mellie and her sons. The Warner papers document the sale and incorporation of Midland Linseed Products Company into what became Archer Daniels Midland Company. The series also includes Litchfield’s research activities with the Warner papers.
M.E. Chevreul correspondence is a small collection of correspondence written by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.
Carol Litchfield papers contains records of Carol Litchfield’s consulting work with Microbial Solutions. Included in the series are account sheets, bills, and travel vouchers for her work.
Existence and Location of Copies
View selected items from the collection in the Hagley Digital Archives
Records less than 25 years old are closed for research.
Language of Materials
Gift of Carter Litchfield, 2007
Carter Litchfield collection on the history of fatty materials (Accession 2007.227), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
Carter Litchfield's personal libary of books, pamphlets, periodicals, and serials on the history of fatty materials has been transferred to the Published Collections Department, where it has been cataloged at the item level.
View the item records in Hagley's Catalog.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Carter Litchfield collection on the history of fatty materials
- Jason Sylvestre
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