The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 1
by Glenn Fuller
On the evening of November 8, 1901, pursuant to a call made by Professor Edmond O’Neill ( University of California) the members of the American Chemical Society resident in California met in San Francisco and organized themselves into a local section. The first officers were Edmond O’Neill, Chairman; Felix Lengfeld, Vice Chairman; and T. Michaelis, Secretary and Treasurer. (Dr. Michael is resigned at the next meeting and was replaced by Harry East Miller.) The assembly adopted by-laws, including the requirement to have at least six meetings per year, and scheduled the Section’s first meeting for December 13. At this meeting, E. C. Burr presented a paper on the Beet Sugar Industry, and Professor J. M. Stillman of Stanford was elected the first Councilor.
Although it might seem presumptuous to name the section The California Section, let’s reflect on the situation in California in 1901. Though rail was used for longer trips, much local transport still involved horses. There were no bridges across San Francisco Bay, so to attend a meeting in San Francisco, East Bay people had to take the Ferry. Chemistry in California was still centered around this area. Most of the commercial laboratories had developed out of the mining industry and had only recently begun to diversify into agricultural and pharmaceutical chemistry. Educational institutions that taught chemistry were also in Northern California. UC was less than thirty years old and Stanford was only ten. These two giants had joined several older schools; Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, USF, and College of the Pacific. Thus, most of the ACS members in the State were clustered here, and were able to attend meetings in San Francisco. Membership of the Section was forty the first year and over seventy the second. Attendance was often thirty or forty, despite the fact that spouses were only invited to one or two meetings a year. There was no need for an Executive Committee, since business could be transacted at regular section meetings. Unfortunately, the business/university affiliations of many individuals did not appear in the minutes of meetings.
The Section meetings were generally lively affairs with one or two well-discussed papers. It might be of interest to list titles and authors during 1902:
. Inhibition of Chemical Reactions by Foreign Substances.- S. W. Young ?Hydroxylamine and Some of Its Derivatives.- Felix Lengfeld
. Some Recent Applications of the Dissociation Theory.- W. C. Blasedale ?The Color of Iodine in Solution.- A. Lachman
. An Account of the Texas Petroleum Field.- Edmond O’Neill
. Some Limiting Conditions in the Purification of Feed Water.- J. M. Stillman
The meetings during the first few years were held in San Francisco, generally at hotels and restaurants which no longer exist. Some frequent meeting places included Jule’s, Tertoni’s, California Hotel, Campi’s, Café Odeon, and the Bismarck Café. The normal price of meals was $1.25 per plate (more on this subject in a later installment).
In 1903 the Section took a survey of its ninety members to find the areas of specialization of the membership. The seventy responses indicated the following: Educational 23, Commercial 8, Consulting 6, Sugar 6, Oil and Asphaltum 5, Explosive 4, Students 4, Government and Municipal 3, Practicing Physicians 2, Acid 2, Bacteriology 2, Malting and Brewing 1, Fertilizers 1, Foundry 1, Wine 1. Papers given during 1903-04 appealed to a good cross-section of this membership with such topics as “Origin of Bitumen”, “Supercooling of Thiosulphate of Soda”, “The Hydrolysis of Protein”, “The Velocity of Ions in Liquid Ammonia Solution”, etc.
The first meeting of 1905 was held in the chemical laboratory of UC. At this first meeting in the East Bay, Professor O’Neill discussed and demonstrated some experiments on the properties of liquid air. After the meeting, members adjourned to the rooms of the Faculty Club where refreshments were served “with lavish hospitality”. One other interesting piece of business came from the meeting. The General Secretary of the Society asked the Section’s opinion about formation of a Southern California Section. The Section Secretary was instructed to inform the General Secretary “that the Section viewed the matter with indifference”.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 2
by Glenn Fuller
In the January issue of the Vortex we began the story of the California Section with the organizational process and the chemical topics which were the subject of early meetings. This article is the story of the Section’s first ten years.
By 1904 the organization, its officers and its continuity were well-established with discussion during 1904 and 1905 of topics such as “Bitumen and Its Origin”, “Precipitation of Gold and Silver from Cyanide Solution”, “Cement in Past and Present Use”, “Experiments on Properties of Liquid Air” and “Fermentation of Wine’. Early in 1906 there was an eight-month hiatus in section meetings, which the minutes explained by reference to “the recent catastrophe”. This was the only reference in the Section’s early accounts to the great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Early in 1907 the Section was back in business with a discussion of the National Food and Drug Act of 1906. The Section passed a resolution at that meeting, asking the California legislature to pass a similar law to prevent “the Manufacture, Sale, or Transportation of Adulterated, or Misbranded, or Poisonous, or Deleterious Foods, Drugs, Medicines or Liquors”.
One principal activity in 1909 was preparation for the National Meeting of the Society to be held in San Francisco in 1910. In 1909, Professor O’Neill of UCB presented a talk which seems timely today, “The Sulphur Acids in the Atmosphere”, and in early 1910, Professor Franklin of Stanford spoke on “The Bearing of Recent Work in Radio Activity on the Atomic Theory”. The 42nd General meeting of the American Chemical Society was held in San Francisco July 12th to 16th, 1910 with 290 registrants. In addition to the lively technical program, there were various social events which included tours of laboratories and plants and a trip to the wineries of the Napa Valley.
For the National Meeting the Section had collected by subscription the sum of $6292.75 in order to provide entertainment for the registrants and guests. They stayed well within budget and disbursed $5405.49, so there was $887.26 surplus. After due deliberation it was decided that, with permission of the donors, the Section would use the surplus to purchase chemical books for a section library. During the next several months the members chose the books and arranged to have them housed at the San Francisco Free Public Library.
As we move through our history, it seems we should acknowledge some of the individuals who have contributed to the progress of the California Section. The principal organizer and first Chairman of the Section was Professor Edmond O’Neill of Berkeley(1). O’Neill appears to have been one of those super-active men who take an important part in every activity they encounter and who give direction and impetus to everything they touch. Although he had an Irish name, his ancestors had moved from Ireland to France in the seventeenth century, so his ancestry was French and German. He came at a young age to California and attended the University of California, graduating in 1879, and except for the period 1884-87 when he pursued graduate studies in Europe, he spent the rest of his professional life in the UCB College of Chemistry. He was more of a problem solver than a researcher, who used his chemical knowledge to help industry, public agencies, and private individuals. At Berkeley, O’Neill was chairman of the Faculty Committee on Athletics, an organizer of the Alumni Association and President of the Faculty Club. In 1901 he succeeded Prof. Rising as Dean of the College of Chemistry. He was instrumental in bringing G. N. Lewis to Berkeley in 1912. O’Neill then became Director of the Chemical Laboratories, a post he held until his retirement in 1925.
(1) The information on Prof. O’Neill was taken from the book by Professor William Jolly, From Retorts ?to Lasers, The Story of Chemistry at Berkeley, 1987, distributed by the College of Chemistry.
Note: Records of the Section between the mid 1910’s and 1940 have been lost. If you know where any records of that period may be found, please contact me through the Section Office.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 3
by Glenn Fuller
Before leaving the Section’s first decade, it would be of interest to cover further the first San Francisco National Meeting (42d General Meeting of the ACS). (I) Although the minutes are rather vague about the California Section committee organization, the chairman was apparently Ralph Gould, a chemist from the U. S. Department of Agri- culture Pure Foods Department, who organized the entire meeting, including entertainment. He even arranged for a special train from the East Coast to carry about 100 delegates and guests via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads. The train made scheduled stops at Colorado Springs, the Petrified Forest, Redlands, Riverside, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Jose (for Stanford University). Compare that lei- surely schedule to our hurried trips by air today! The train also made an unscheduled stop when it was derailed in an accident north of Santa Barbara. Although it was fatal to two of the train crew, the accident caused only minor injuries to a few passengers. A number of the delegates had to spend the first days at the meeting without luggage. A story was prevalent at the convention smoker that Mr. Gould had promised everything to get to the convention, even a repetition of the 1906 earthquake. However, he was on better terms with the Southern Pacific Company than with the arranger of earthquakes, so a train wreck was held instead.
Accounts of the meeting emphasized the social events more than the technical sessions. The former included an all day boat trip on the Bay, with visits to a smelting plant, a sugar refinery and the Mare Island Navy Yard. There was an overnight trip up Mt. Tamalpais and a dinner at the St. Francis Hotel ($6.00 per plate, but subsidized by the section to cost attendees $3.00). Another highlight was a full day trip to the Napa Valley to have a lunch at the Italian Swiss Colony winery. Gould aimed to have visiting members pay nothing but their hotel bills, and he almost succeeded, while staying within a $6,000 budget. Some milestones of the following years included a visit from delegates to the 8th meeting of the International Congress of Applied Chemistry on their way around the country in 1911. In 1912, there was the first suggestion for an employment clearing house. A committee of four members was appointed to implement such an effort, but the records have been lost concerning its activities. The Southern California Section was formed in 1911 to comprise members of the ACS south of the Tehachapi Mountains. This section’s territory was enlarged in 1913 to include chemists living in Kern, San Luis Obispo and San Bernardino counties.
The year 1914 brought the First World War, and the National ACS asked local sections to help American chemical industry in learning to manufacture chemicals which had previously been imported. The section sent a letter to manufacturers in California offering advice and assistance from chemists of recognized standing. The records of the war years 1914-1918 seem to have been totally lost a long time ago, so we can only infer some of the activities of local chemists. I will try to give some in- formation about those years in the next installment. One other notable event happened in 1914. G. N. Lewis presented his first talk to the Section on “The Constitution of the Atom”. ??(I) In addition to the original minutes, much of the information in this section comes from an article by Martha Morse in the December, 1951 issue of the Vortex.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 4
by Glenn Fuller
Although the United States tried hard to stay out of World War I, there were immediate problems for the American chemical industry. In 1914 the California and Southern California Sections established a bureau to advise local industry concerning ways to overcome the handicaps resulting from scarcity of foreign produced chemicals. Companies with shortage problems were instructed to write to the California Section secretary, who would forward the inquiries to consultants with appropriate expertise. This somewhat informal organization was followed in 1916 by a Joint Committee on Military Affairs, comprised of three members each from the local branches of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Chemical Society. Records of the activities of the Board have not been found, although it is certain that the War contributed to the expansion of chemical industry on the West Coast.
In spite of the War, many peace time activities continued here, and the Section participated in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. A major exhibit was planned and executed under supervision of the Bureau of Mines, which demonstrated chemical and metallurgical processes from lab to pilot plant scale. In connection with the Exposition the Section hosted a joint meeting with the AAAS following the Seattle National ACS meeting. There was no financing for this meeting, and although chemists have the (deserved) reputation of being tight with their dollars, a request for voluntary contributions of $5.00 produced enough revenue from section members.
In 1920 the California Section had grown so that it was entitled to four councilors. Professor Joel Hildebrand of UC Berkeley was duly elected to this fourth position. At that time and for almost a decade thereafter, the Section met at the Engineers’ Club at 57 Post Street in San Francisco. By December of 1921 it was announced that the Section had 350 members, but that only 83 of these had responded to the recent imposition of dues of $1.00/year. An on-the-spot collection for 1922 was made, which netted $61.01 from 53 members.
The year 1922 brought the formation of the Sacramento Section. Formation of new Sections from the California and Southern California Sections has led to a total of ten sections in the original territory of the California Section.
California ACS Sections Today: ??California 1901 ?Southern California 1911 ?Sacramento 1922 ?San Diego 1941 ?Mojave Desert 1946 ?San Gorgonio 1949 ?Santa Clara Valley 1954 ?Orange County 1962 ?San Joaquin Valley 1979 ?Los Padres 1996
That same year, news came that the National ACS was considering an increase in national dues and /or a cutback in services. Dues were $15/year which included subscriptions to all three journals; Chemical Abstracts, JACS, and the new Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. The Section expressed its opinion that an increase was unwarranted and that revenue from advertising could be increased. They advised that a dues increase dues could result in a loss of membership. (Sound familiar?) At any rate dues were not raised that year.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 5
by Glenn Fuller
I remarked in Part 4 of this series that the California Section has been the parent or grandparent of nine other local sections, all within the original territory of the Section. At the recent San Diego National Meeting there was an interesting lunch meeting with representatives of the ten sections, presenting an overview of their history and current activities.
In the later twenties and early thirties there was increasing travel by chemists around the world, so that Section meetings featured foreign scientists such as James Franck, George von Hevesy, C. K. Ingold and J. B. S. Haldane. In 1928 there was a tour of the new Columbia Steel Plant in Pittsburg, attended by 98 members. At one 1929 meeting Russell Millar was the first speaker from the newly-organized Shell Development Company in Emeryville, whose talk was entitled “Specific Heats at Low Temperatures”. Linus Pauling presented a discussion of “Energy of Electron- Pair Bonds” in 1932.
Chemists were not spared from the hard times of the early 1930’s. In 1935 the ACS sent a survey to 7580 chemists who were reportedly unemployed or underemployed. Of the 3969 replying, 931 were still unemployed and 683 were doing non-chemical work. It was especially difficult for newly-graduated chemists to find work in their field. Responding to the depression, the section moved its meetings in 1933 from the Engineers Club to the Hotel Stewart at 353 Geary Street where cheaper dinners could be had. Cost of meals was always an issue among Section members, and for three-quarters of a century meal costs were quite inexpensive. Section Meetings Dinner Cost in 1910 was $1.25 Bergez-Frank’s, Jules. 1920 / $1.25 Engineers Club. 1934 / $0.75 Hotel Stewart. 1940 / $1.15 Claremont Hotel. 1943 / $1.25 Claremont Hotel. 1951 / $1.75 UC Faculty Club. 1957 / $1.85 UC Faculty Club. 1962 / $2.70 UC Faculty Club. 1966 / $3.50 UC Faculty Club. 1968 / $4.00 UC Faculty Club. 1978 / $4.50 Spenger’s. ?In 1935 the National Convention was again held in San Francisco, with the St. Francis as the official hotel and several other hotels to house the overflow. Dr. Robert E. Swain of Stanford was the chairman of the host committee, which planned the entire meeting. There were 44 papers presented in the Organic Division and 60 in the Division of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry. Among the interesting topics there was a paper by James Franck on “Photochemistry of Chlorophyll” and a demonstration by E. 0. Lawrence on the use of the Geiger counter to measure radiation of Sodium-24.
By 1937 the economic situation was improving, and the Section grew in members and diversity of interests. Perhaps the interests of the membership were illustrated by the attendance at three consecutive meetings in 1938-39. Dr. Willard Libby drew 37 to a presentation of “The Neutron and Artificial Radiation”, while the following meeting on “Molecular Weight of Proteins by Osmotic Pressure” had 60 attendees, and a symposium on “Petroleum Processing” drew 150 chemists. The Section moved permanently to the East Bay in 1939, where the first meeting drew 365 members and guests to hear T. C. Daniels of UC speak on “Sulfanilimide and Related Compounds”.
In 1940, World War II began to affect the Section. For the first time in several years there were no speakers from abroad. Dr. Agnes Fay Morgan’s talk in March 1941 on “New Vitamins of the B-Complex and National Defense” drew only scientific comment, where her address twenty years earlier had occasioned considerable discussion because of her gender. A really important event in 1940 was the initiation of the Vortex as the Section news letter. This was primarily the product of T. K. “Ted” Cleveland, who continued to manage and edit the publication for the next 29 years.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 6
by Glenn Fuller
In May we noted the beginning of two important events, one in the California Section (the Vortex) and one in the Nation (preparation for and entry into WWII). (1) After 1939 most of the Section meetings were held in the East Bay, which became the center of section activities. Shell Development, California Research Corporation (Chevron), UC, USDA, Stanford and Dow were the largest employers of chemists. In 1940, Ted Cleveland of Philadelphia Quartz became Section Chairman, and began his long career as editor of the Vortex.
The years 1940 and 1941 saw increasing preparation for war. After Pearl Harbor, the country was very concerned that the Japanese might attack and possibly invade the West Coast, and we knew they had the capability to use poison gas. A civil defense plan was initiated and chemists were recruited and organized into teams since they understood the chemical nature of gases and would presumably be able to decontaminate areas where they were used. Lloyd Ryland(1), who was in charge of a Contra Costa County team tells of their training. He and Ted Cleveland and others attended a one-week training class at Stanford in which all the texts were pamphlets published by the British. Members of the civil defense teams were issued protective masks, but there were no masks for the general public. A meeting was held in Oakland to which Professor T. Dale Stewart brought small samples of various war gases. There was also a training session at Camp Stoneman at which the civil defense teams had to don masks in an atmosphere of tear gas. (Sound familiar to a few of you veterans?) There were no decontaminants available, except for some Clorox, which was mildly effective in helping to remove mustard gas. Luckily, there was no attack, and the civil defense effort slackened somewhat after the destruction of much of the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway.
In 1941 Professor T. Dale Stewart was Section Chairman and most meetings were held at the City Club Hotel on Alice Street in Oakland. January, 1942 saw the United States scrambling to get its industry on a war-time footing. Shell Development had projects on production of high octane gasoline for aircraft and production of toluene for manufacture of TNT. The USDA Regional Labs worked on synthesis of antibiotics by fermentation. California Research Corporation worked on chlorinated insecticides similar to DDT to combat mosquitos and other carriers of diseases. In 1943 the Section had ten councilors.
Many, but not all, of the presentations were related to the war effort. That year Robert Clark of Cutter Laboratories spoke on “The Preparation and Properties of Blood Plasma” and Joel Hildebrand organized a joint meeting with the Engineering Council on “Science and War”. Melvin Calvin spoke on the “Chemistry of Copper Chelate Compounds”. Norman Gay, the Chairman, put a message in the Vortex, noting the number of women in the Section and asking for women volunteers so that he could assign women to some of the active committees. The result was disappointing and it would take a few more years before we would get any women on the Executive Committee.
In 1942 and 1943 the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Technicians (FAECT), a CIO union attempted to organize and represent the scientists at Shell Development in Emeryville. They failed twice to do so, but the Shell chemists decided that representation by a separate independent union would not be so bad. They organized the Association of Industrial Scientists (AIS), which won an NLRB election. The result was challenged by the FAECT, which claimed that AIS was a company union. The issue was not settled until 1947 when the AIS was recognized as the bargaining agent for scientists at Shell Development, Emeryville. Relations between Shell Development and the AIS were often a bit strained, proving that AIS was not the company union alleged by FAECT. Beginning in the early ’40s the Section used the June issue of the Vortex to publish a Directory of Section members and their employers. This practice was carried on into the ’50s and ’60s. Eventually, the directory became too large to publish in a regular monthly edition, so it was published separately. When numerous individuals objected to being listed, the process of publishing became more difficult and the Directory was discontinued. (1) I have evidence that some members read these installments. Professor James Cason called and donated a copy of his book (Things Remembered, Rutledge Books, Inc., Danbury, CT, 2000). Material from that book will be referenced as we progress. Lloyd Ryland, a Shell Development retiree, contributed material about the civil defense organization of chemists early in WWII. I thank them and welcome any other historical material.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 7
by Glenn Fuller
As World War II ended, the California Section began to change in make-up. There were many more chemists in the Bay Area, and attendance at Section meetings was relatively constant in numbers, but a much smaller fraction of the total Section membership. In 1951 there were 1894 members and average attendance was 190. There were still several large employers: Shell Development, California Research Corporation (Chevron), University of California, Western Regional Research Laboratory (USDA), Stanford University and Dow Chemical. However, there was an increasing number of employers who had only a few chemists on the staff. Section dues were still only $1.00 per year, and the cost of mailing The Vortex was two cents per copy.
Up to the end of the war, the School of Chemistry at the University of California had been dominated by the physical chemists, but in 1954 Wendell Latimer, now the Dean recognized the need to establish a more balanced program, so he brought in James Cason, Bill Dauben and Henry Rapoport to strengthen organic chemistry. Professors Branch, Calvin and Cason were given the task of designing an organic chemistry curriculum. They proposed to create a five-unit undergraduate organic course for all chemistry majors which included laboratory sessions. According to Cason (1), the old guard physical chemists were scandalized. Remarks were made such as “What good is all that pot-boiling to physical chemists who make up nearly all the student body?” and “Gilbert Lewis would never have tolerated such an outrage”. Nevertheless, with Latimer’s support, organic chemistry became a significant part of the chemistry curriculum.
Under the editorship of Ted Cleveland, The Vortex became a really significant publication linking the Northern California chemists. Walter Peterson published a monthly column of news about section members, titled “Personals by Petersen”. In the early ‘50s there was a puzzle column entitled “Newhall’s Noggin Nockers” which was taken over by Ray Mugele and changed to “Mugele’s Mental Martinis. The Vortex used jokes as space fillers. Even back in 1947 there were complaints that many of the jokes were sexist. One of the very most inoffensive I could find went something like: Boy: “Let’s get married or something.” Girl: “Let’s get married or nothing.”
A valuable contribution of The Vortex was the write-ups of the talks and discussion groups at the monthly meetings. Table 1 lists some representative titles reflecting the interests of local chemists in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. In those days ACS Section meetings often had a general talk followed by break up into topical interest groups. At one meeting in 1944 the industrial group topic was “The Pattern of Waste Disposal Problems in California”. Quite notable to today’s reader, the report of this topic did not use the words “ecology” or “environment” even once. ?Some Presentations at California Section Meetings:
1945 ‘Genes and Biochemistry’ George Beadle ?‘New instruments for Oxygen Detection”, Arnold Beckman ??1946 ‘Oxygen-Carrying Synthetic Chelate Compounds’ Melvin Calvin ?‘A Review of the Catalytic Cracking of Pure Hydrocarbons’ B. S Greensfelder ?1947 ‘Silicones – New Engineering Materials’ H. L. Bolton ??1948 ‘Hydrogen Bromide Catalysis of the Oxidation of Hydrocarbons’ W.E. Vaughn ?1951 ‘Abnormal Grignard Reactions’ H. S. Mosher ??1955 ‘Theory of the Liquid State’ Edward Teller ??1956 ‘Einsteinium, Fermium, and Mendelevium, Atom by Atom’ Glenn Seaborg ??1957 ‘Spectroscopic Studies by the Matrix Isolation Method’ George Pimentel ??1958 ‘The Chemical Versatility of Boron’ Anton B. Burg ??1959 ‘Ultraviolet Light Induced Transformations of Organic Compounds” William Dauben ??1960 ‘Steroidal Hormone Research in Mexico’ Carl Djerassi ?‘The Origin of Life on Earth and Elsewhere’ Melvin Calvin
In 1951 the California Section had two active subsections which have since become independent sections, the Santa Clara Valley Subsection and the Fresno Subsection (now the San Joaquin Valley Section). Santa Clara Valley separated in 1955, but Harry Mosher stayed one more year to chair the California Section. The year 1951 saw Glenn Seaborg share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with E. D. McMillan. The same year, Eda Kinney came for the first of her three stints as office Manager of the Section. She left and was replaced by Anna Briggs in 1957. In 1958, the Section hosted the 133d National ACS Meeting in San Francisco. This account brings the Section through the 1950s. An item puzzling to me is that for sixty years we not only never had a woman chair, but no woman had served as an elected officer on the Executive Committee of the Section. This was not so with the Santa Clara Valley Section. Soon after they left there were women chemists taking an active part in their governance.
(1)Cason, James, Things Remembered, Rutledge Books, Inc., Danbury, CT 2000. ISBN: 1-58244-070-0. Professor Cason has written his life story and pulls no punches in discussing his colleagues in the School of chemistry at Berkeley.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 8
by Glenn Fuller
One must be cautious in writing history, especially in covering the more recent period. There are more and more readers around that experienced those times. The bulk of the next parts of this history comes from The Vortex embellished somewhat by my fallible memory.
In 1960, Anna Briggs was still the Administrative Secretary of the Section, but she left in 1961 to be replaced by the indefatigable Eda Kinney who had held the job earlier. The Section increased the workload to the extent that it was now full-time. Eda was the right person for the job. She knew everyone, and she handled people in a friendly but businesslike manner. She stayed with the Section this time until 1979, when she married Charles Gilman and left the Bay Area. She was replaced by Robin Bramwell.
Melvin Calvin was awarded the Nobel prize in 1961. That year, one of our long-time stalwarts, Richard Lemmon became Section Chairman (see obituary in the October issue). Dick also served the Section for more than twenty years as a councilor, followed by a period on the National ACS Board of Directors. He and Alan Nixon were involved in an unfortunate controversy over his election to the Board in 1978, a dispute that lasted through 1981. The election result, when first announced, indicated that Lemmon had defeated Nixon by three votes. Then the situation became reminiscent of last year’s Presidential election in Florida. Fifty-three votes initially not counted because of irregularities were inadvertently destroyed and the Board decided to seat Lemmon. The decision led to hard feelings among the supporters of both candidates, and a suit by Nixon against the Society. The dispute provided fodder for the “Letters to the Editor” column for three years.
There were some other events during the sixties and seventies that made The Vortex exciting to read. Starting in 1972, there was a concerted movement by two groups of creationists to remove the teaching of evolution from the California public school curriculum. Dick Lemmon and Prof. Thomas Jukes played leading roles in thwarting that attempt, both of them helping to organize an advisory panel to the California Board of Education. Another controversy between Profs. Cason Jukes was about laetrile as a cancer cure. For those who have forgotten, laetrile is another name for amygdalin, a glycoside of benzaldehyde cyanohydrin, which was extracted from apricot pits or bitter almonds. FDA had evaluated laetrile and had not approved it, but many advocates of laetrile argued that the protocols for evaluation had not been correct. Cason, with some help from Alan Nixon, took the pro-laetrile position, while Jukes was against it. Arguments were quite lively and sometimes quite personal. One donnybrook, the original cause of which I never fully understood, came from a 1972 Vortex article which led to disagreement between Bob Matteson, who had replaced Ted Cleveland in 1969 as Editor, and the Executive Committee over whether it should have been published. The outcome was that Matteson was forced out, and policy was established that writings, other than letters to the editor, concerning sensitive topics were subject to review prior to publication. Bill Stanley of the USDA, was recruited as Editor of The Vortex. He served until 1976.
Some other items which I can only mention in this installment should receive notice: ??1) Alan Nixon was elected President of ACS to serve in 1973. ??2) Hazel Perdue became the first elected woman officer of the Section when she became a Councilor in 1978. In 1983, Eileen Nottoli, then at Chevron Research, was our first female Section Chair (still called Chairman in those days). ??3) Bob Grinstead became Vortex Editor in 1976. He was to serve almost as long as Ted Cleveland. ??4) In 1981 Walter Petersen passed away. He had been Section Chairman in 1969, as well as Secretary for eight years, and he graced The Vortex for many years with his column, ‘Personals by Petersen’. Our Section Ser- vice Award was established in his honor. ??5) In November of 1961, 1971 and 1981, the Section celebrated the 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays of Prof. Joel Hildebrand. He had been Section Chairman in 1917 and Society President in 1955!
Note: As I mentioned in the initial paragraph, I am discussing history that many of you know first hand. If I have missed something important or made egregious errors, please contact me or write an indignant letter to the Editor.
The First 100 Years of the California Section 1901-2001 – Part 9
by Glenn Fuller
This part of the section history covers the period from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s and moves into current activities. At one time I planned for this article to be the last in the series, but I believe it would be better to take another installment to conclude our century’s extensive activities, so we will complete the story next month.
Much of our recent agenda has been concerned with closer cooperation with National ACS in its programs and activities. The California Section has always been a leader and sometimes it has seemed like a very independent maverick. During the past 100 years, seven Presidents of the Society have come from the Section, beginning with E. C. Franklin in 1923 and followed by Joel Hildebrand (1955), Melvin Calvin (1971), Alan Nixon (1973), Glenn Seaborg (1976), George Pimentel (1986) and Attila Pavlath (200 I ). Two of these presidents, Alan Nixon and Attila Pavlath, were elected because they were “populist” candidates, advocating more member services, e.g. career assistance and education, continuing education for chemists, and improved education in science for the general public.
The employment picture for chemists has changed drastically in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. In the middle of the century, the largest employers of chemists were the research arms of companies such as Shell, Chevron, Dow, and Stauffer; the USDA (Western Regional Research Center) and the two large research universities, UC Berkeley and Stanford. In 1954 Stanford chemists became members of the Santa Clara Valley Section. In the early seventies, Shell began moving its Emeryville Laboratories to Houston. Dow also left the Bay Area.
Stauffer went through several metamorphoses caused by mergers and acquisitions and ended up as part of Syngenta, which is now closing the Richmond Laboratory. UCB and the USDA remain, but even their staffs have changed in composition so that there are fewer chemists. Nevertheless the membership has increased to more than 3600. These members now work for small companies or are involved with biotechnology or other interdisciplinary fields of research. We are dealing today with a membership that is much different than that of 30 years ago. In 1991 employment of section members was as follows: Academic, 10.6%: Industrial, 35.6%: Government, 8.5%: Consulting, 3.2%: Student, 6.1 %: unreported, 35% (many of the latter category were retirees).
The Section has enthusiastically supported educational programs, both those of the Society and local ones. For many years we have awarded certificates of merit to high school chemistry students nominated by their teachers. In 1984, eighty-seven schools participated in the program. Project SEED, a national program initiated by Alan Nixon to encourage economically disadvantaged students to learn science, was begun in 1968. During the first few years, Malcolm Singer chaired the Urban Crisis (project SEED) committee. He was followed by Elaine Yamaguchi in 1983, who has built a program which is now the second largest in the country. In 1990 there were five students in our summer program, which comprised ten weeks of employment in a lab, supervised by a chemist, with a stipend coming from the ACS. By 1999 there were thirty- six students. We have had large donations from organizations such as the Bechtel Foundation, Chevron, Zeneca, and Raychem, which were matched by national ACS. All the money donated to Project SEED by corporations and individuals has been used for student stipends. A local activity which the Section supports is the Chemathon, initiated by Peggy Carlock, a teacher at Albany High School. On one Saturday every year, students from high schools in the Bay Area and its environs come to one of the local high schools. They are taught by ACS volunteers to perform multiple hands-on experiments in a ‘county fair’ situation. Finally, the section initiated a system of educational grants, given to local high schools and community colleges. The grants are small, and cannot be used for salaries, but they have been very useful to the recipient teachers.
During this time our regulars meetings continued to provoke interest. In June of 1990, two old adversaries, Richard Lemmon and Alan Nixon, shared the platform to speak and debate on “Whither Chemistry?” The extent of agreement was surprising to the audience, and perhaps to the participants. Another controversial talk was about creationism, presented by Professor Dean Kenyon, who spoke on “Chemical Evolution: Intelligent Design”. His position was rebutted skillfully by Dick Lemmon in a Vortex article.