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Bolton Society Symposia: 2006 September

Named for Henry Carrington Bolton, the Bolton Society encourages and promotes the individual love for and collection of all types of printed material devoted to chemistry and related sciences.

Classic Chemistry Books of the Twentieth Century: Organic Chemistry

Organizer, Presiding: Ned D. Heindel

Genesis of Roberts Nuclear Magnetic Resonance / John D. Roberts

Concrete realization of NMR in condensed phases was achieved by physicists E. M. Purcell and F. Bloch, earning them a joint Nobel Prize in 1952. These events did not impinge much on the consciousness of many organic chemists, although my encounters with Francis Bitter and Richard Ogg did suggest that something I could not understand would revolutionize structural analysis of organic compounds. Still the idea remained fallow, while others recognized the significance of a NMR of ethanol disclosed by Arnold, Dharmati and Packard in 1951, with three chemical shifts in the 1:2:3 intensity ratio. Then, an exposure in 1954 to the pioneering NMR work of W. D. Phillips at DuPont CRD demonstrated that even with no understanding how NMR worked, it was obvious what it could do and I absolutely had to get involved. Hands-on operation of the temperamental Varian HR-40 instrument was a rewarding, but time-consuming experience. Early NMR users were occasionally asked by non-users what NMR was all about, preferably from someone not knowing enough to overwhelm with details. A scary, modestly successful first lecture at snowy Rochester in 1956 was followed by a primitive but nonetheless smash presentation at a Reaction Mechanisms Conference. Repeated some forty times around the country, this lecture morphed into Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.

Genesis of a textbook, Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry / Marjorie C. Caserio, John D. Roberts

An initial effort to write a different kind of textbook for beginning organic chemistry was generated by the triumvirate of Arthur C. Cope, John C. Sheehan and John D. Roberts at MIT about 1950. The effort collapsed after one chapter was written, primarily because it was not clear who was going to write what and how much emphasis on physical organic the text was going to have. The junior author had been inspired by the radical organic text published by Howard J. Lucas of Caltech about 1935 and, after transferring from MIT to a professorship at Caltech (as successor to Lucas) and developing an elementary course with a large physical organic component, this ideal became much more realizable. The effort began with encouragement by Caltech's Edward R. Buchman to prepare a syllabus and was strongly pushed by W.A. Benjamin, which was starting a publishing company and wanted an organic text to be its first major work in chemistry. How this subsequently panned out to give a published text will be revealed in some detail.

Paul Karrer as patriarch of Zurich / Jay S. Siegel

Paul Karrer was Ordinarius Professor and Director of the Chemistry Institute at the University of Zurich from 1919 to his retirement in 1959. He wrote the first edition of his Organic textbook in 1927; a total of 13 editions appeared as well as translations in several languages. In addition, he produced a monograph on carotenoids, and over 1000 research publications. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1937. His numerous research and teaching accomplishments made him a patriarch over the Zurich school, which influenced the course of organic chemistry for four decades

Whitmore's Organic Chemistry: Book, man, and time / Roy A. Olofson

Heralded as the first advanced organic chemistry text written in English and characterized as a “one-volume ‘Beilstein',” Penn State Dean Frank C. Whitmore's 1937 Organic Chemistry was published to critical acclaim. At the time, Whitmore already ranked among America's most famous chemists. He had written the classic monograph on organomercurials and introduced the carbocation as a reaction intermediate to explain whole classes of rearrangements (“Whitmore 1,2-shifts”). As 1938 ACS President, he would address 72 of the 102 local sections (better than a book tour!). He became chemistry's de facto public spokesman and a leader in organizing and directing critical WWII war research. With the aid of original notes and documents from the Penn State collection, the eight-year process Whitmore followed in writing his opus is outlined. After ten reprintings, a second edition was completed and published in 1951 after Whitmore's death. The saga of this endeavor also is recounted

Textbooks of Louis and Mary Fieser / Kenneth L. Williamson

Fieser and Fieser. Louis Frederick Fieser and Mary Fieser of Harvard University. Are there any two names more synonymous with organic chemistry textbooks and lab manuals during the 1940's and 1950's? Have there ever been two more prolific authors of valuable reference books, monographs, and instruction books in organic chemistry? Experiments in Organic Chemistry by Louis Fieser (Mary was never a coauthor of this text) was first published in 1935. In 1975 Ken Williamson became coauthor of the text, now with the title Organic Experiments. It is still in print almost three-quarters of a century and twelve editions later and includes at least one classic experiment from that first edition. The textbook,Organic Chemistry, by Louis and Mary Fieser was first published in 1944. This introduced the era of the gigantic undergraduate textbook that, at over 1000 pages, tries to cover the entire field. The 3rd edition of 1956 introduced stereochemistry but was devoid of mechanisms. Shortly thereafter Louis introduced the Fieser molecular models, made of plastic and aluminum tubes. To accompany these models, patterned after Dreiding molecular models, he published Chemistry in Three Dimensions. In addition to these textbooks the Fiesers published more than a score of other books, the most renowned of which is the series Reagents for Organic Synthesi

Les Atomes: A landmark book in chemistry / Gary D. Patterson

Jean Perrin changed the terms of discussion in all physical chemistry texts with the publication of Les Atomes in 1913. Although Dalton had proposed the atomic hypothesis as the basis for a rational philosophy of chemistry, few physical chemists in the late 19th century actually believed in the physical reality of such microscopic entities. They were far too small to be imaged directly and were relegated to the realm of natural philosophy. Although atoms and molecules are small, colloidal particles give rise to light scattering and the ultramicroscope reveals points of light at the location of the optical inhomogeneities. The phenomenon of Brownian motion demonstrated that colloidal particles undergo highly irregular trajectories in solution. With the publications of Einstein on the microscopic basis of Brownian motion and the invention of the ultramicroscope, the stage was set for the Nobel Prize winning researches of Jean Perrin. He observed both the diffusion coefficient of colloidal particles in solution and the distribution of concentration of colloidal particles in a tall vessel. Both experimental results confirmed the predictions of Einstein. Perrin then produced a definitive treatise containing all the known evidence for the physical existence of atoms and molecules. The book produced immediate capitulation of virtually all resistance and most of the extant physical chemistry texts were modified accordingly. Even Ostwald, the father of physical chemistry and one of the chief opponents of the notion of physical atoms and molecules, rapidly changed his views and textbooks. A discussion of the contents of the English translation of the book by Perrin and a presentation of typical physical chemistry texts from that period will also be given.

Organic chemistry textbooks in Britain from 1950 to 1990 / Peter J. T. Morris

The main textbooks used for undergraduate organic chemistry courses in Britain in this period were American: Fieser & Fieser in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by March in the 1970s and 1980s, and by McMurry in the 1980s. The major home-grown competitor was by Ivor Finar, a chemist at North London Polytechnic. The first edition was published in 1951. Finar only made passing use of organic reaction mechanisms and no use of physical methods at all. Not until the publication of the sixth edition (1973) did physical methods appear in the text. This gap was filled by Peter Sykes's A Guidebook to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry (1961), and Peter Schwartz's Physical Methods in Organic Chemistry (1964). Despite its conversion to mechanistic chemistry, Finar's book was now on its last legs, although it was reprinted until at least 1986. However, it was not replaced by a British textbook. The only attempt in the UK to publish a mechanism-based textbook,Basic Organic Chemistry: A Mechanistic Approach (1966) by John Tedder and Anthony Nechvatal was not a success. Who used Finar? Why did he largely ignore organic reaction mechanisms and physical methods? And why did Britain fail to produce a textbook to match its American counterparts?