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Arnold Frankel

  • Born: March 17, 1922, New York, New York
  • Died: November 20, 1998

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0167
Interview Dates: March 13, 1998 and March 27, 1998
Location: New York, New York
Interviewer: Arnold Thackray
No. of pages: 19
Sponsor: Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation
Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Arnold Frankel begins the first interview with a discussion of his family background. His father emigrated from Poland to New York in 1907. Though he was a sign painter, he believed in the importance of education. Frankel spent most of his childhood in the Bronx; because of the Depression, the family moved frequently, but remained in the same area. Frankel attended City College, enrolling in the chemical engineering curriculum and receiving his B.S. in 1942. While at City College, he met Seymour Mann, who later became his business partner. After graduation, Frankel accepted a position with the U.S. Rubber Company, working at a TNT plant. Soon thereafter, he moved to Publicker Industries, where he did pilot plant work. He also encouraged Mann to join Publicker. Frankel and Mann began to discuss forming their own business, and planned to manufacture 2, 4-D, and antifreeze. Though they later discarded that idea, they did form Aceto Chemical, Inc., and exported a variety of chemicals. Frankel is joined in the second interview by his wife, Miriam Frankel, and they discuss the difficulties of beginning a business and a family at the same time.


1942 B.Ch.E., Chemical Engineering, City College of New York
1945 Graduate Courses University of Pennsylvania
1949 M.Ch.E., Chemical Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn

  Professional Experience

U.S. Rubber Company

1942 - 1943 Operating Engineer

Publicker Industries

1943 - 1947 R&D

Aceto Chemical Company, Inc.

1947 - 1997 Cofounder, Chairman


1980 Human Relations Award, American Jewish Committee

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background 1

Father's emigration from Poland to New York. Living in the Bronx during the Depression. Importance of education.

College Education and Early Career 4

Attending City College. Studying chemical engineering. Meeting Seymour Mann. Working in a TNT plant.

Publicker Industries 7

Accepting a position at Publicker. Research and development. Graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. Encouraging Seymour Mann to join Publicker. Pilot plant work.

Aceto Chemical 10

Decision to go into business with Seymour Mann. Plan to produce 2,4-D and antifreeze. Job at Irvington Varnish and Insulator Company. Exporting chemicals.

Notes 17

Index 18

Appendix 20

  About the Interviewers

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

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