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John R. Schaefgen

John Schaefgen

CHF Collections

  • Born: April 9, 1918, Wilmette, Illinois

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0041
Interview Date: April 3, 1986
Location: Wilmington, Delaware
Interviewer: Raymond C. Ferguson
No. of pages: 41
Minutes: 120

  Abstract of Interview

In this interview John Schaefgen begins with his family history and early life in Gross Point, Illinois. He then discusses the development of his interest in science, and describes his education, including his professors and fellow students at Northwestern University and Ohio State University. In the central portion of the interview, Schaefgen considers his association with Paul Flory at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and recalls his move to the Pioneering Research Laboratory at DuPont. He then describes his interests and accomplishments in polymer chemistry. The interview concludes with a discussion of his colleagues, professional society activities, and views on the characteristics of innovative research.


1940 B.S., Chemistry, Northwestern University
1944 Ph.D., Physical Organic Chemistry, Ohio State University

  Professional Experience

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company

1944 - 1951 Research Chemist

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

1951 - 1952 Research Chemist

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

1952 - 1977 Research Associate

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

1977 - 1982 Research Fellow

ELJAY Associates, Inc.

1983 President

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood, family background and early education 1

Parents and brothers. Education at grade and high school. Childhood illness.

Undergraduate Education 5

Northwestern University, 1936-40. Organic and physical chemistry professors.

Graduate Education 7

Ohio State University, 1940-43. Teaching assistant duties. Graduate student accommodation. Professorial advisors. Fellow graduate students.

Employment with Goodyear 10

Discusses influence of P.J. Flory, his research supervision and his experience at DuPont. Research on polyesters and publications with Flory. Coworkers. Research on branched polymers and on polyelectrolyte effects. Break-up of the Goodyear research group.

Employment with DuPont 16

Organizational structure and style in Pioneering Research Laboratory. Discusses molecular structural requirements for strong fibers. Research reporting within the company. Flory as consultant to DuPont. Discusses function of outside consultants.

Retirement from DuPont 26

Consulting. Professional activities, ACS and Gordon conferences. Discusses publication policy in private industry. Innovative research. Family; wife, her scientific education. Children and grandchildren. Contact with retired colleagues. Alterations in chemistry during career. Influential polymer chemists.

Notes 37

Index 38

  About the Interviewer

Raymond C. Ferguson

Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (B.S., M.S.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.

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