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N. Bruce Hannay

  • Born: February 9, 1921, Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • Died: June 2, 1996, Bremerton, Washington

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0137B
Interview Date: December 28, 1995
Location: Seattle, Washington
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 16
Sponsor: Electrochemical Society
Electrochemical Society

  Abstract of Interview

The interview begins with N. Bruce Hannay discussing the origins of his interest in electrochemistry and his awareness of The Electrochemical Society as an ideal organization for discussions and publications on topics related to solid state chemistry. The interview continues as Hannay recalls Bell Labs' support for his early activities in The ECS, which included organizing meetings and suggesting speakers, particularly within the Electronics Division. Hannay emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between the Society and Bell Labs, where he served as Vice President for Research during his ECS presidency. Hannay helped to further the Society's interest in solid state and corrosion work while he had responsibility for electrochemistry at Bell Labs. Throughout the interview, he comments on positive aspects of the Society's internal operations; its relations with other scientific organizations and companies, including the American Chemical Society, GE, and Bell Labs; and the influence of colleagues such as R.M. Burns and Charles Tobias. He also describes the Society's strong responsiveness to its members' needs, its influence on his professional development during the middle of his career, and his views of the future of both The ECS and electrochemistry in general.


1942 B.A., Chemistry, Swarthmore College
1943 M.A., Physical Chemistry, Princeton University
1944 Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, Princeton University

  Professional Experience

Bell Telephone Laboratories

1942 - 1960 Research Chemist

Bell Telephone Laboratories

1960 - 1967 Chemical Director

Bell Telephone Laboratories

1967 - 1973 Executive Director, Research, Material Science and Engineering

Bell Telephone Laboratories

1973 - 1982 Vice President, Research and Patents


1978 Honorary Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
1979 Honorary D.Sc., Swarthmore College
1981 Honorary D.Sc., Polytechnic Institute of New York
1976 Acheson Medal, Electrochemical Society
1983 Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Years in the Electrochemical Society (ECS) 1

Contact with the ECS through Bell Laboratories. Development of interest in solid state chemistry. Honorary membership in The ECS. Takeover of The ECS Electronics Division by solid-state chemists. Colleagues in The ECS.

Presidency of the Electrochemical Society 5

Relationship between Bell Labs and the ECS. Presidency of The ECS simultaneous with Vice Presidency of Research at Bell Labs. Palladium Medal awarded to Jewish Soviet dissident scientist, Benjamin Levich.

Operation of the Electrochemical Society During Presidency 7

Relationship of The ECS with other scientific organizations. Relationship of TheECS with industrial sponsors. Relationship between divisions in The ECS. Contributions of The ECS to electrochemistry. Opinions on the future of The ECS.

Notes 14

Index 15

  About the Interviewer

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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