Paul W. Morgan papers1872-1990 Majority of material found within 1945-1989
Paul W. Morgan (1911-1992) was a research chemist who spent his thirty-five-year career working in the DuPont Company's Pioneering Research Laboratory, part of the Textile Fibers Department (formerly the Rayon Department). His contributions include interfacial polycondensation reactions, a previously unexplored field of polymer chemistry. Morgan’s polymer condensation research ultimately yielded several commercially successful products. Among these were Nomex®, a high-temperature-resistant, thermally stable aramid fiber; Fiber B, a new tire reinforcing fiber that was twice as strong as ordinary synthetic tire yarns; and PRD-49, a high-modulus organic fiber marketed as Kevlar® aramid fiber. In addition to documenting Morgan’s career with DuPont, this collection also contains materials relating to the history of hand tools and tool manufacturers, amassed by Morgan following his retirement.
- Majority of material found within 1945-1989
- Morgan, Paul W. (Person)
2.5 Linear Feet
2 cartons ; 2 hollinger boxes.
Biographical / Historical
Paul W. Morgan (1911-1992) was a research chemist who spent his thirty-five-year career working in the DuPont Company's Pioneering Research Laboratory, part of the Textile Fibers Department (formerly the Rayon Department). Morgan, a native of Thomaston, Maine, graduated from the University of Maine in 1937 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The Ohio State University in 1940. After completing an additional year of post-doctoral study investigating cellulose derivatives, Morgan was recruited by William Hale Charch to work in the DuPont Rayon Department’s Pioneering Research Section as a research chemist. This section was responsible for long-range exploratory research directed at the discovery of innovative products and processes with commercial applications. Following his appointment as research associate in 1946, Morgan assumed greater responsibility for selecting new areas of investigation and for managing his own projects. He spent nine years in Buffalo before moving to the new Pioneering Research Laboratory at DuPont's Experimental Station in Delaware in 1950. The Rayon Department was renamed Textile Fibers in 1952. Morgan was promoted to research fellow in 1957.
Morgan’s most outstanding contributions to pioneering research involved interfacial polycondensation reactions, a previously unexplored field of polymer chemistry. Typically, condensation polymers, such as polyamides and polyesters were produced by a tedious process that required reduced pressure and elevated temperature. Morgan demonstrated that it was possible to instantaneously produce a polyamide at room temperature. When a solution of diacid chloride in organic solvent is brought into contact with an aqueous solution of aliphatic diamine, a thin yet strongly coherent film is formed at the interface of these two solutions. As the film is pulled from the interface, it is continuously replaced to form an endless cord. Morgan’s seemingly magic demonstration was dubbed the "nylon rope trick."
Morgan’s interfacial polycondensation research ultimately yielded several commercially successful products. Among these were Nomex®, a high-temperature-resistant, thermally stable aramid fiber; Fiber B, a new tire reinforcing fiber that was twice as strong as ordinary synthetic tire yarns; and PRD-49, a high-modulus organic fiber marketed as Kevlar® aramid fiber. Kevlar®, exhibited unparalleled strength and density and has been widely used in the manufacture of aircraft parts and protective body armor for military and law enforcement personnel. The importance of Morgan’s polymer condensation work is underscored by the fact that DuPont invested more than 350 person-years of effort into research based on Morgan’s original findings.
In recognition of his exceptional accomplishments in research and development work, Morgan was named senior research fellow in 1973. At the time, he was the first person in fifteen years to hold this title in the Textile Fibers Department. By the time he retired in 1976, Morgan had been awarded over thirty U.S. patents and published more than thirty papers, as well as a comprehensive text on condensation polymers.
Scope and Contents
The papers of Paul W. Morgan document the career and accomplishments of one of the DuPont Company’s most distinguished research chemists; the collection also provides historical information regarding the manufacture of hand tools during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The collection is arranged in two series.
Series I, Pioneering Research files, consists of records from Morgan’s thirty-five-year career with DuPont's Textile Fibers Department. Included in this series is Morgan’s correspondence, as well as notes and research on aromatic polyurethane and synthetic fibers. There are deposition transcripts, witness statements, and correspondence from two major patent infringement lawsuits, as well as several volumes of Morgan’s collected patents and publications.
Series II, Tool files, consists of materials relating to the history of hand tools and tool manufacturers amassed by Morgan following his retirement. Included in this series are files on Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. of Philadelphia and the Coes Wrench Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. This series also contains a record of Morgan’s personal tool collection, including names, dates, and purchase prices.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Gift of the Estate of Paul W. Morgan.
- Morgan, Paul W. (Person)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Paul W. Morgan papers
- Robert Reed and Sara Mellinger
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- 2020: Laurie Sather