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Gordon D. Patterson papers

1920-1966 Majority of material found within 1926-1962
 Collection
Accession: 2247

Abstract

Gordon Derby Patterson (1897-1982) was a chemist who spent nearly forty years with the Central Research Department (formerly the Chemical Department) at the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. In addition to his early work in pigments and rayon, Patterson directed research in high-energy radiation generators, radioactive tracer techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy, and absorption spectroscopy. His papers provide extensive documentation for these projects, giving particular emphasis on ideas and suggestions for possible areas of exploration. In addition, there are administrative records, including outlines for research directors and the Steering Committee reviewing the status of current and proposed projects, as well as technical reference materials, such as summary reports, scientific papers, and literature reviews.

Dates

  • 1920-1966
  • Majority of material found within 1926-1962

Creator

Extent

17 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Gordon Derby Patterson (1897-1982) was a chemist who spent nearly forty years with the Central Research Department (formerly the Chemical Department) at the E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. Patterson engaged in fundamental research, research assistance, and product development at the DuPont Company's Experimental Station, a large site consisting of numerous research laboratories in Wilmington, Delaware. His primary fields of interest were physical and colloid chemistry and inorganic chemistry. Patterson was also was responsible for organizing the department's original physical research section. Throughout his career, Patterson was granted a total of thirty-two patents as inventor or co-inventor.

Among his numerous professional affiliations, Patterson was a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a 1940 recipient of the Modern Pioneer Award presented by the National Association of Manufacturers. Patterson also represented DuPont at meetings of the Directors of Industrial Research.

A native of Meadville, Pennsylvania, Patterson graduated cum laude from Allegheny College in 1919 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. He remained active with the college's alumni council and later served on the board of trustees. Patterson joined the DuPont Company as a research chemist in 1923, after receiving his Ph.D. in industrial chemistry from Ohio State University.

During his early years at the Experimental Station, Patterson was involved in research to produce improved pigments and develop related manufacturing processes. Following his promotion to group leader in 1926, Patterson directed research that provided the basis for the pigmentation of Dulux alkyd enamels and the reformulation of DuPont house paints. He was also actively involved in research to develop delusterants for rayon textile yarns during the 1930s. Patterson supervised Army and Navy research projects while assigned to the National Defense Research Committee during the Second World War.

In 1945, Patterson was promoted to research supervisor. Among the many important contributions to fundamental research made by Patterson's research team were investigations into the physical structure of polymer molecules as it relates to the properties of films and fibers, the characterization of colloidal systems, the basic properties of solids and liquids, and the exploration of new physical phenomena and the technical application of physical techniques.

Patterson was named assistant supervisor of the Physical and Analytical Division in 1955. In this capacity, Patterson directed research into high-energy radiation generators, radioactive tracer techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy, and absorption spectroscopy. Patterson was named supervisor of the Physical and Analytical Division in 1958, which gave him responsibility for a broad program of chemical and physical research. He retired at the end of 1962.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Gordon D. Patterson, although fragmentary in nature, provide valuable insights into the inner workings of the Central Research Department staff engaged in fundamental research at the DuPont Experimental Station. His papers contain materials relating to a wide array of subjects and are arranged in three series.

Series I contains the Administrative subject files. These records include project outlines prepared for research directors, outlines prepared for the Steering Committee to review the status of current and proposed research projects, and forecasts of time spent by research chemists on each project. Also included in this series are memoranda and correspondence regarding personnel matters, equipment and facilities, and indexing and distribution of progress reports.

Series II contains the Experimental Station project files. These records are further divided into five sub-series. Sub-Series A, Pigments research, consists primarily of reports regarding the testing of pigments during the 1930s. Sub-Series B, the Research subject file, contains files relating to various aspects of pigments and rayon research, as well as materials developed for the building and construction trades. Sub-Series C, the Alphabetical project file, includes memoranda and correspondence regarding cellulose film, viscose rayon, physical research, exploratory research in inorganic chemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Sub-Series D, the Chronological file, contains memoranda and correspondence regarding ongoing research, as well as ideas and suggestions for possible areas of exploration. Sub-Series E contains files from Patterson's tenure with the Central Research Department's Physical and Analytical Division.

Series III consists of the Technical reference files. This series contains incomplete sets of summary reports, scientific papers, literature surveys, and contributions to the scientific literature by Experimental Station researchers, as well as an extensive set of catalogs published by firms manufacturing scientific instruments. There is also some personal miscellany which contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, assorted memorabilia, and colleagues' personal reminiscences marking the occasion of Patterson's retirement.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Related Materials

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Central Research and Development Department records (Accession 1784), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Materials

Gordon D. Patterson photographs (Accession 1986.240), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Gordon D. Patterson papers
Status:
Author:
Robert Reed and Sara Mellinger
Date:
2001
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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