Monday, August 4, 2014

American chemists and World War One

Stuart Cantrill's retweet of this post reminds me that it is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which reminded me of some relevant historical documents that a friend had provided me a number of years ago.

First, (to left) a September 1918 questionnaire in the pages of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering from U.S. Army Major General William Sibert , who was the Director of the Chemical Warfare Service. I like this line: "The importance of a prompt return of the census blank, properly filled out, by every chemist of the country cannot be overstated."

(One wonders how negative answers to these questions were viewed -- was your questionnaire sent to the nascent FBI?)

In a similar vein, here's a link to a discussion of "The American Chemist At War" in the pages of the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, including this interesting quote:
"Already in the early part of February 1917, the President of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Julius Stieglitz, had offered without reservation the services of the members of the American Chemical Society to President Wilson in any emergency that might arise and had received an appreciative reply."
Something tells me that a modern ACS president would not dare do such a thing. 


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  2. Sure, but Stieglitz was obviously of German decent. And therefore, he had to assert his patriotism.

    As well, back then the ACS was actually a society for American chemists, and also represented their interests. Nowadays, we might as rename it International Chemical Society, or American Chemistry Professors' Society.

  3. "Of these two essential elements..." - nice pun Major Sibert