New Search

Edwin J. Vandenberg

  • Born: September 13, 1918, Hawthorne, New Jersey
  • Died: June 11, 2005

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0077
Interview Date: September 1, 1987
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Interviewer: Herman Skolnik
No. of pages: 65
Minutes: 90

  Abstract of Interview

Vandenberg grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey, where his father owned a grain and feed store. After talking about his schooling, where he learned the violin, Edwin Vandenberg recalls a friend and his home laboratory. Attending Stevens Institute of Technology, Vandenberg concentrates on chemical subjects, influenced by F. J. Pond. His first years at Hercules were with Spurlin's paper chemistry group, where he contributed to the understanding of paper sizing as a colloid phenomenon. After a spell working on the wartime production of smokeless powder, Vandenberg returns to the Hercules research center to work on a wide range of polymer syntheses, which he describes in some detail. The interview concludes with an account of his retirement activities at Arizona State University, and reflections on his family, colleagues and ACS activities.


1939 M.E. Stevens Institute of Technology

  Professional Experience

Hercules Incorporated

1939 - 1944 Research Chemist

Sunflower Ordinance Works

1944 - 1945 Assistant Shift Supervisor

Hercules Incorporated

1946 - 1957 Research Chemist

Hercules Incorporated

1957 - 1965 Senior Research Chemist

Hercules Incorporated

1965 - 1982 Research Associate

Arizona State University

1983 - 2005 Adjunct Professor of Chemistry

Arizona State University

1983 - 2005 Visiting Professor of Chemistry


1964 Best Paper Award, Delaware Section, American Chemical Society
1965 Industrial Research 100 Award
1965 D.Eng., Stevens Institute of Technology
1979 Delaware Section Award, American Chemical Society
1981 Award in Polymer Chemistry
1983 Polymer Chemistry Division Service Award
1991 Award in Applied Polymer Science

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Schooling 1

Growing up in Hawthorne, New Jersey. School activities, violin in school orchestra. Friend with home chemistry laboratory.

College Education 11

Stevens Institute of Technology; engineering degree, with chemistry specialization. F. J. Pond and nature of Stevens teaching programs.

Hercules Corporation 16

Spurlin and paper chemistry. The sizing process and the electrostatic theory of rosin sizing.

Wartime Activities 19

Sunflower Ordinance Works, smokeless powder.

Hercules Research Center 22

Return to Wilmington. Emulsion polymerization, GR-S, redox initiation. Phenol process from cumene hydroperoxide. Copolymer synthesis. Ethylene polymerization. Hercules license of Ziegler process. Polypropylene production. Polyvinyl ethers and epoxy rubbers. Rigid-chain water-soluble polymers.

Retirement from Hercules 50

Family. ACS activities, Gordon conferences. Arizona State University and research activities.

Notes 60

Index 62

  About the Interviewer

Herman Skolnik

Herman Skolnik received a B.S. in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Hercules, Inc., as a research chemist in 1942, and served as a divisional research manager from 1952 until his retirement in 1979. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Chemical Documentation, and has published over 200 papers and four books, including A Century of Chemistry, the centennial history of the American Chemical Society.

Hear It Firsthand

The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

Annual Report

Annual Report
Take a look back at a year of preservation, research, and outreach in CHF’s annual report to supporters.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.