Wallace Hume Carothers correspondence1915-1947 Majority of material found within 1917-1922
- Majority of material found within 1917-1922
- Carothers, Wallace Hume, 1896-1937 (Correspondent, Person)
- Machentanz, Wilko Gustard, 1895-1973 (Recipient, Person)
0.8 Linear Feet
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 Contents
The letters are especially valuable for the light they shed on Carothers' youth. Carothers wrote candidly to Machentanz regarding his interests, emotions, social life, and study. The letters note Carothers' interest in music and Romantic authors, and describe early episodes of depression. There are also copies of Carothers' wedding invitation and the program for a Tarkio College production of Booth Tarkington's "The Man from Home," directed by Miss Bertha Machentanz, in which both Carothers and Machetanz played minor roles.
The collection concludes with a 1947 exchange of letters between Machentanz, now a lawyer in California, and Betty Jo Travis of Chicago, who had requested information for a paper on Carothers. Machentanz provides a brief but incisive character sketch and a short history of their relationship.
The letters and envelopes bear pencil notations by Robert Secor, who had used them in preparing his own biography of Carothers, which was left incomplete at his death in 2001.
Language of Materials
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Wallace Hume Carothers correspondence
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- 2020: Laurie Sather