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Willard C. Asbury

  • Born: December 16, 1900, Portland, Maine
  • Died: April 27, 1986, Westfield, New Jersey

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0065
Interview Date: December 9, 1985
Location: Westfield, New Jersey
Interviewer: Peter J.T. Morris
No. of pages: 58
Minutes: 44

  Abstract of Interview

Joint interview with A. Donald Green.

Peter Morris starts this interview by asking Donald Green and Willard Asbury about the early years at Standard Oil Development Company and the influence of Frank Howard and Eger Murphree. The arc process is discussed as well as the level of assistance obtained from IG Farben; Green and Asbury recall the IG research organization. The wartime pressures during the development of GR-S, and the problems at the Baton Rouge plant are discussed by Green, while Asbury tells of his visit to Germany with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. The political recriminations of the prewar cooperation between Standard Oil and IG Farben are recollected as are visits to Germany in the 1930s and 1950s. The interview ends with a survey of the postwar move into chemicals, the Ziegler process and the future of the oil and petrochemical industries.

NOTE: Both Donald Green and Willard Asbury died before this interview was edited and annotated.


1925 S.B., Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  Professional Experience

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1925 - 1927

Research Assistant, Laboratory of Applied Chemistry

Standard Oil Company of Louisiana

1927 - 1929 Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Development Company

1929 - 1930

Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Development Company

1933 - 1935

Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Development Company

1940 - 1941

Assistant to Vice President

Standard Oil Development Company

1941 - 1947

Manager, Research and Development

Hydrogenation Engineering and Chemical Company

1930 - 1933 Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil International Company

1935 - 1936 Chemical Engineer

Standard Oil Company, International Associates Ltd.

1936 - 1940 Executive

Esso Research and Engineering Company

1947 - 1964 Vice President and Director

Esso Research and Engineering Company

1964 - 1965 Executive Vice President

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Standard Oil Development Company 1

Recollections of Frank Howard and Eger Murphree. The arc process, assistance from IG Farben. Paul Baumann. Organization of research groups at IG. Martin Müller-Conradi. Butyl rubber process.

Wartime Synthetic Rubber Program 18

Wartime pressures. Development of GR-S. Problems at the Baton Rouge plant. Reactor kinetics. Association with Flory.

Germany 25

Asbury's visit to Germany with U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey; effectiveness of Allied bombing. Rubber from Oil. Recriminations of Standard Oil/IG Farben prewar agreement. Recollections of Germany pre- and postwar. Postwar move into chemicals. The Ziegler process.
Future of oil and petrochemical industries.

Notes 47

Index 49

  About the Interviewer

Peter J.T. Morris

Peter J. T. Morris is currently at the Department of the History of Science and Technology of the Open University, where he is Royal Society-British Academy Research Fellow. Morris was educated at Oxford University receiving his B.A., chemistry in 1978; D.Phil., modern history in 1983, and he was a research fellow at the Open University from 1982 to 1984. During the period 1985–1987, Peter Morris was Assistant Director for Special Projects at the Beckman Center. He was the Royal Society–British Academy Research Fellow at the Open University, Milton Keynes, between 1987 and 1991, and Edelstein International Fellow in 1991–92. He is author of the monographs, Archives of the British Chemical Industry, 1800–1914 and Polymer Pioneers; his volume The American Synthetic Rubber Research Program was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in December 1989. Morris also co-edited Milestones in 150 Years of the Chemical Industry in 1991 and The Development of Plastics in 1994.

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