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Dale B. Baker

  • Born: September 19, 1920, Bucyrus, Ohio
  • Died: December 11, 2005, Columbus, Ohio

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0160
Interview Date: June 9, 1997
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Interviewers: Robert V. Williams and Leo B. Slater
No. of pages: 109
Minutes: 360
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Dale Baker begins the interview with a discussion of his early years and family background. Inspired by a high school teacher, Baker decided to major in chemical engineering upon entering Ohio State University in 1938, receiving his B.Ch.E. in 1942 and his M.Sc. in chemistry in 1948. While a student, Baker began working for the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Chemical Abstracts Service as an office boy. Aside from a brief time as a chemist working with explosives at DuPont, Baker spent his entire career with the ACS and Chemical Abstracts Service. In 1946, Baker became assistant editor of Chemical Abstracts. He took on the extra responsibilities of managing the publications' finances and administrative coordination. Baker and his staff at Chemical Abstracts learned indexing and abstracting through hands-on work while seeking to automate and quicken the availability of chemical information. In 1958, Baker became Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, a position he held until 1986. Baker was instrumental in developing an on-line system for Chemical Abstracts in the early 1980s. While Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, Baker also served the ACS in various capacities, from Acting Executive to Director Emeritus. Baker concludes the interview with a discussion of management techniques, and reflections on his career and family.


1942 B.Ch.E., Chemical Engineering, Ohio State University
1948 M.Sc. Ohio State University

  Professional Experience

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

1942 - 1945 Chemist-Supervisor

Chemical Abstracts Service

1946 - 1950 Assistant Editor

Chemical Abstracts Service

1951 - 1957 Associate Editor

Chemical Abstracts Service

1958 Associate Director

Chemical Abstracts Service

1958 - 1986 Director

American Chemical Society

1965 - 1966

Acting Executive, Columbus, Ohio, Office

American Chemical Society


Acting Manager, Columbus, Ohio, Office

American Chemical Society

1980 Chief Operating Officer, Columbus, Ohio, Office

American Chemical Society

1983 - 1986 Deputy Executive Director, Columbus, Ohio, Office

American Chemical Society

1986 - present Director Emeritus, Columbus, Ohio, Office


1968 Boss of the Year, Columbus Junior Chamber of Commerce
1968 Technical Man of the Year, Columbus Technical Council
1968 Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station
1970 Alumni Centennial Award, OSU Alumni Association
1970 Distinguished Alumnus Award, OSU College of Engineering
1971 Twenty-five year Service Award, American Chemical Society
1973 Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station
1974 Miles G. Conrad Award, NFAIS
1977 Doctor of Sacology, US Air Force, Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska
1979 Patterson-Crane Award, American Chemical Society
1983 Award of Merit, American Society of Information Science
1986 Directors, Officers, Councilors, Management, and Staff Award on Retirement American Chemical Society
1986 Honorary Ph.D., The Ohio State University
1986 Herman Skolnik Award, ACS Division of Chemical Information
1987 - present Honorary Fellowship, Royal Society of Chemistry
1991 Hall of Fame Inductee, Ohio Science, Technology & Industry
1992 Professional Achievement Award, OSU Alumni Association
1993 Distinguished Service Award, ACS Board of Directors
1997 Honorary Chairman, ACS Cols. Sect. Centennial (1897–1997)

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Beginnings 1

Growing up in Bucyrus, Ohio. Interest in science. Attending Ohio State University. First job with Chemical Abstracts Service. Working for DuPont. Getting master's degree.

Early Career 6

Leaving DuPont. Returning to Chemical Abstracts Service. Working with Dr. E.J. Crane. History of Chemical Abstracts. Becoming Assistant Editor. Hiring and training chemists to write nomenclature. Becoming Director of Chemical Abstracts Service.

Developing Chemical Abstracts Service 16

Hiring J. Malcolm Dyson. Test issues of Chemical Titles. Seeking grant from National Science Foundation. Difficulty with nomenclature. Indexing techniques for Chemical Abstracts.

Career with Chemical Abstracts Service 28

Information management. Fred A. Tate. Automation efforts. Improving internal processing of information. Contracts with the National Cancer Institute and the Food & Drug Administration. Interacting with the American Chemical Society board. Board decision to make Chemical Abstracts Service self-supporting. Borrowing from the ACS General Fund.

World Information 41

Discussing an on-line system. Working with British, German, Japanese, French, and Russian information societies. Formation of National Federation of Science Abstracting and Indexing Services. Visiting Russia's VINITI. DIALOG. Going on-line. DIALOG lawsuit.

Information Services 56

Marketing information. Threat of government take-over of information management. Eugene Garfield. Chemical registry system. Years as president of American Society for Information Science. Science Libraries Association and ASIS merger. National information policy.

Management 73

Nationalization of information policy. Managing Chemical Abstracts Service. Team work. SATCOM. Importance of chemical registry system. Positive effect of automation of Chemical Abstracts.

Final Thoughts 82

Reflections on family. Thoughts on history of chemistry. Information science education programs.

Notes 89

Index 92

  About the Interviewer

Robert V. Williams

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an M.S. in library and information science from Florida State University; and an M.A. in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.

Leo B. Slater

Leo Slater was the 2001–2002 John C. Haas Fellow and a senior research historian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, where he also served as Director of Historical Services from 1997 to 2000. A former research chemist at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, he received his doctorate in History from Princeton University in 1997.

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