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John J. Beer papers

1835-1991 Majority of material found within 1961-1991
 Collection
Identifier: 2279

Abstract

John Joseph Beer (1927-) was a professor of the history of science and chemistry at the University of Delaware until his retirement in 1992. Beer played a major role in developing the university’s program in the history of technology and the Hagley Fellowship Program. The bulk of the papers consists of correspondence, notes, research materials, and drafts for a projected book or article on "Russia iron," a highly finished, wear-resistant iron produced in Russia during the nineteenth century.

Dates

  • 1835-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1961-1991

Creator

Extent

.5 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

John Joseph Beer (1927-) was a professor of the history of science and chemistry at the University of Delaware until his retirement in 1992. Beer was born on July 17, 1927 in Saarbrucken, Germany. He received an AB from Earlham College in 1950, an MS from the University of Illinois in 1952, an MA from the University of Illinois in 1954, and a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Illinois in 1956. Beer was an assistant professor of history at Hanover College from 1956 to 1957, an assistant professor of chemistry at Eastern Illinois University from 1957 to 1958, an assistant professor of the history of science at Oklahoma State University from 1958 to 1961, and an assistant professor of the history of science at the University of Delaware from 1961 to 1992.

During his career, Beer conducted research on the history of chemistry and the chemical industry. With Eugene S. Ferguson (1916-2004), George Basalla (1928-), and David A. Hounshell (1950-), Beer played a major role in developing the University of Delaware’s program in the history of technology and the Hagley Fellowship Program.

Beer has been a member of the History of Science Society, the American Historical Association, and the Society of History and Technology. Papers written or co-written by Beer include “Emergence of the German Dye Industry,” University of Illinois, 1959; “Aspects of the Professionalization of Science,” Daedalus, fall 1963; “The Function of History in Industrial Research Organization,” Research Management, spring 1966; “Technology and Progress,” in A Study of American History, Dushkin, 1974; and “The Chemistry of the Founding Fathers,” July, 1976.

Scope and Contents

The papers are a series of fragments representing Dr. Beer's research and administrative duties at the University of Delaware.

Minutes of the Hagley Fellowship Program Committee date from 1979 to 1991 and describe the major changes that occurred to the program during the 1980s. Another file details the abortive effort to have Technology and Culture, the journal of the Society for the History of Technology, edited at the Hagley Museum and Library.

The bulk of the papers consists of correspondence, notes, research materials, and drafts for a projected book or article on "Russia iron," a highly finished, wear-resistant iron produced in Russia during the nineteenth century. Some of the materials are copies from Hagley Museum and Library Accession 0340, describing how Charles L. Gilpin travelled to Russia in 1880 in an attempt to discover the secret of Russia iron for American ironmaster W. Dewees Wood. Wood later succeeded in manufacturing a "planished" iron supposedly equal or superior to Russia iron. Beer's notes include material on both Wood and Gilpin. Beer also attempted modern chemical analysis on surviving samples of Russia iron in an attempt to discover the supposed secret process of its manufacture.

There are also a small quantity of notes on an earlier research project on theories of dyeing, as well as a series of posters on technological landmarks and technological progress.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Related Materials

John Beer collected papers (Collection CDG-A), Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
John J. Beer papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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