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J. Franklin Hyde

J. Franklin Hyde

CHF Collections, Photograph by Jim Bohning

  • Born: March 11, 1903, Solvay, New York
  • Died: April 23, 2001

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0026
Interview Date: April 30, 1986
Location: Marco Island, Florida
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 55
Minutes: 270

  Abstract of Interview

In this interview Franklin Hyde briefly tells of his childhood and his schooling in Solvay, New York. At Syracuse University, Hyde majored in chemistry and continued on to a master's degree. It was during this period, under the influence of Reginald Boehner that Hyde became an organic chemist and he continued with that speciality with Roger Adams at Illinois and then with Conant at Harvard. He recalls both his colleagues and the faculty at Urbana and at Cambridge. Despite an offer to join Carothers at DuPont, Hyde chose to accept the challenge of a position with Corning Glass works, where he was the lone organic chemist. At Corning, Hyde started his studies of organosilicon compounds and where he entered the growing field of polymer chemistry. During the interview Franklin Hyde summarizes several of his research endeavors that contributed to the present­day importance of silicones. Included in this section of the interview are instances of the critical role of newly introduced materials to the scientific contribution to World War II. Hyde also describes the chronology of the competition between Corning and General Electric that eventually led to a major patent interference suit. The interview ends with a survey of Hyde's later work with Dow Corning and his reflections on laboratory research and scientific management.


1923 A.B., Chemistry, Syracuse University
1925 M.A., Chemistry, Syracuse University
1928 Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Illinois

  Professional Experience

Harvard University

1928 - 1930 Postdoctoral Fellow

Corning Glass Works

1930 - 1938 Research Chemist

Corning Glass Works

1938 - 1951 Manager, Organic Laboratory

Dow Corning Corporation

1951 - 1975 Various Positions


1963 Distinguished Achievement Award, Dow Corning Corporation
1963 Honorary D.Sc., Syracuse University
1963 Outstanding Inventor Citation, Michigan Patent Law Association
1971 Whitehead Memorial Lecturer, Engineering Section, National Research Council
1971 Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
1974 Midgley Award, Detroit Section, American Chemical Society
1975 Honorary D.Sc., Michigan State University
1979 Elected to Plastics Hall of Fame, Society of the Plastics Industry
1980 Silicone Pioneer Award, Dow Corning Corporation
1982 Five of Genius Award, Saginaw Valley Patent Law Association

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood 1

Family background. Summer work with horsedrawn transportation. Schooling, development of liking for chemistry.

University Studies at Syracuse and Illinois 3

Concentration on math and chemistry at Syracuse, faculty and colleagues. Organic chemistry and master's degree. Graduate studies at Illinois and recollections of faculty and fellow students. Experiences as teaching assistant. Research with Roger Adams, recollections of Marvel and Carothers. Marriage.

Postdoctoral Study at Harvard 11

Research on chlorophyll. Reminiscences of Conant and other colleagues at Harvard. Effects of the Depression. Circumstances of acceptance of position as an organic chemist at Corning Glass Works.

Research at Corning 17

Initial research projects at Corning. Polymers and organosilicon compounds. Dispute with Kipping. Competition in silicone research with General Electric Company. Wartime activities and expansion of the research group.

Transfer to Midland 37

Resumption of research at Dow Corning, Midland. Continuous polymerization system. Study of equilibrium hydrolysis and bond rearrangement in siloxanes. Research and management.

Notes 48

Index 51

  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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