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John C. Bailar, Jr.

John C. Bailar, Jr.

CHF Collections

  • Born: May 27, 1904, Golden, Colorado
  • Died: October 17, 1991

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0073
Interview Dates: May 28, 1987 and June 17, 1987
Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
Interviewer: Theodore L. Brown
No. of pages: 40
Minutes: 126

  Abstract of Interview

The interviews entail a discussion of John Bailar, Jr.'s scientific life, beginning with a description of his family background. His parents had a great influence on Bailar's early education; growing up, he often helped his father with his chemical research. This experience peaked Bailar's interest in pursuing chemistry at the University of Colorado, where he received a B.A. in 1924, followed by an M.A. in 1925. Bailar continued his education, earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1928. He then took a position teaching general chemistry at the University of Illinois. While there, he changed his emphasis to inorganic chemistry, conducting research on isomerism and molecular rearrangements, and later on coordination compounds. By the early 1930s, Bailar had become a member of the graduate faculty, supervising the research of several graduate students. Throughout his career, he was heavily involved with the ACS; in 1959, he was elected president. The interviews end with Bailar's recollections of some of his most successful students, and his reflections on graduate education.


1924 B.A., Chemistry, University of Colorado
1925 M.A., Chemistry, University of Colorado
1928 Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Michigan

  Professional Experience

University of Colorado

1924 - 1925 Chemistry Fellow

University of Michigan

1926 - 1928 Assistant in Chemistry

University of Illinois

1928 - 1930 Instructor in Chemistry

University of Illinois

1930 - 1935 Associate in Chemistry

University of Illinois

1935 - 1939 Assistant Professor

University of Illinois

1937 - 1951 Secretary of the Chemistry Department

University of Illinois

1939 - 1943 Associate Professor

University of Illinois

1941 - 1967 Head of Division of Inorganic Chemistry

University of Illinois

1943 - 1972 Professor

University of Illinois

1972 Professor Emeritus


1946 Foster Lecturer, University of Buffalo
1957 Clark Lecturer, University of West Virginia
1959 Noyes Lecturer, Phi Lambda Upsilon, University of Illinois
1959 Hon. Sc.D., University of Colorado
1959 Hon. Sc.D., University of Buffalo
1959 President, American Chemical Society
1960 Smith Lecturer, Oklahoma State University
1961 Award in Chemical Education, American Chemical Society
1962 Kuebler Award, Alpha Chi Sigma
1962 Merck Lecturer, Bucknell University
1963 - 1964

Member, President's Advisory Committee

1963 - 1971

Treasurer, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

1964 Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
1965 Dwyer Medal, Chemical Society of New South Wales
1966 Werner Memorial Lecturer, Zürich
1966 Werner Gold Medal, Swiss Chemical Society
1968 Dwyer Memorial Lecturer, Chemical Society of New South Wales
1968 Welch Foundation Lecturer
1968 American Cyanamid Lecturer, University of Connecticut
1968 Award for the Teaching of Chemistry, Manufacturing Chemists Association
1970 - 1971 National Lecturer, Sigma Xi
1972 Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1973 Hon. Sc.D., Lehigh University
1974 Honorary Fellow, Indian Chemical Society
1976 Honorary Member, Illinois State Academy of Science
1978 Heyrovsky Medal, Czechoslovakian Academy of Science
1982 Hon. Doctor of Humane Letters, Monmouth College
1983 Spicer Memorial Lecturer, Georgia Institute of Technology
1983 Ferst Award, Sigma Xi

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Early Education 1

Family background. Educational influence of parents. Early interest in chemistry.

College Education 5

Bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from University of Colorado. Graduate work in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan. Thesis research under Professor Moses Gomberg.

Teaching at the University of Illinois 7

First position teaching freshman chemistry. Research interests in inorganic chemistry. Work on stereo-isomerization, coordination compounds. Influence of "Speed" Marvel. Supervision of graduate students, placement work.

American Chemical Society 19

Attendance at national meetings. Involvement in physical and inorganic chemistry division. Creation of separate inorganic chemistry division. Election to office of President.

Involvement in IUPAC 24

Revamping of constitution. Selection as treasurer.

Summing Up 27

Reflections on graduate students. Importance of research freedom.

Notes 33

  About the Interviewers

Theodore L. Brown

Theodore L. Brown holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. Since 1956, he has been a member of the faculty of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he is now Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus. He served the University in various capacities, including as Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate College during 1980–1986, as Founding Director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology during 1987–1993, and as Interim Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs during 1993. He is currently a member of the American Chemical Society Governing Board for Publishing as well as of the Board of Directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

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