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Raymond F. Boyer

Raymond Boyer

Dow Historical Collection, CHF Collections

  • Born: February 6, 1910, Denver, Colorado
  • Died: February 23, 1993

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0015
Interview Dates: January 14, 1986 and August 19, 1986
Location: Michigan Molecular Institute, Midland, Michigan
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 67
Minutes: 243

  Abstract of Interview

Raymond Boyer begins the interview with a brief description of his family, childhood, and school days in Ohio, touching on his early interest in electricity. He then tells of his undergraduate and graduate years at Case Institute of Technology, focusing on the influence of the faculty there. In discussing his career at the Dow Chemical Company, Boyer provides accounts of discoveries and innovations, especially involving polystyrene; several leading figures there, including Willard and H. H. Dow; and major organizational changes that occurred during his career. Concluding with a summary of his most recent research at the Michigan Molecular Institute, Boyer includes an interesting anecdote involving a Canadian chemist with the same name.


1933 B.S., Astronomy, Case Institute of Technology
1935 M.S., Physics, Case Institute of Technology

  Professional Experience

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1935 - 1945


Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1945 - 1945

Group Leader

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1945 - 1948 Assistant Director

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1948 - 1952 Director

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1949 - 1952 Secretary, Executive Research Committee

This group, consisting of Dr. William R. Veazey, chairman; Dr. Edgar C. Britton, vice chair; and R. F. Boyer, secretary; was responsible for Dow's R&D operations for a three-year period following the death of Willard H. Dow, president, Dow Chemical, in a plane crash in March 1949. This committee ceased to operate when Ray A. Boundy was appointed as the full-time research director for Dow.

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1952 - 1969 Director of Plastics Research

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1969 - 1972 Assistant Director, U.S. Area Research and Development (Polymer Science)

Dow Chemical Company Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)

1972 - 1975 Research Fellow

Michigan Molecular Insitute

1975 Research Professor and Affiliate Scientist


1955 Honorary D.Sc., Case Institute of Technology
1968 Gold Medal, Society of Plastics Engineers
1970 Borden Award in Organic Coatings and Plastics Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1972 Swinburne Gold Medal, Plastics Institute of Great Britain
1978 Member, National Academy of Engineering
1983 Best Papers Award, Midland Section, Sigma Xi
1991 Election to Plastics Hall of Fame, June 20, 1991, sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Washington, D.C.

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family and Childhood 1

Thinks highly of his school teachers. Benefits from The Book of Knowledge. Works for father after school. Interest in electricity inspired by Edison's influence in Ohio and The Electrical Experimenter magazine.

Case Institute of Technology 3

Choice to attend is arbitrary. Begins in electrical engineering but soon switches to physics. Astronomy professor Nassau very influential—assists to find job and convinces to write bachelor's thesis in astronomy. Master's in physics.

The Dow Chemical Company 7

Nassau recruits. Goes through student training course, gaining exposure to many different departments. Begins work in X-ray crystallography department; moves to Grebe's group in Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) as expected. Britton's Organic Laboratory. Burned in explosion in carbon disulfide plant. Devises ASTM test for heat distortion of plastics. Develops technique for direct observation of polychlorostyrene single molecules. Travels a great deal during World War II to develop special cables. Becomes director of PRL. Contact with Willard Dow. Member of executive research committee. Direction of plastics research and development under Branch. Publishes article on dependence of transition temperatures on chemical structure in polymers. First exposure to styrene through light and heat sensitivity. Dissatisfied with new financially based management style. Becomes director of U.S. Area Research and Development in Polymer Science and first Dow Research Fellow.

Michigan Molecular Institute 30

Research and writing flourishes. Lectures at Soviet and Polish Academies of Sciences.

"The Other Raymond Boyer" 36

Interesting experiences abroad due to existence of Canadian chemist with the same name.

Controversy over Order in Amorphous Polymers 39

Conflict with Flory, who maintains that amorphous polymers are free of order. Encourages continued experimental research on multiple transition behavior of atactic polystyrene and liquid-liquid transition and gelation. Despite disagreement, regards Flory as premier polymer scientist.

Notes 48

Index 51

  About the Interviewers

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning is professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he was a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and has presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was the foundation’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. He is currently a visiting research scientist and CESAR Fellow at Lehigh University. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

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