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Cheves Walling

Cheves Walling

Gift of Dr. Cheves Walling, CHF Collections

  • Born: February 28, 1916, Evanston, Illinois
  • Died: June 19, 2007

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0009
Interview Date: September 12, 1979
Location: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Interviewer: Leon B. Gortler
No. of pages: 38

  Abstract of Interview

Cheves Walling begins this interview by describing his family, early education, and undergraduate days at Harvard. He then discusses his graduate education at the University of Chicago, stressing the major review article on the peroxide effect that he and Frank Mayo wrote in 1940. Walling next examines the research that he undertook at DuPont, U.S. Rubber, and Lever Brothers, emphasizing the work that he did before 1950 at U.S. Rubber. Finally, Walling examines his academic career at Columbia and the University of Utah. Throughout the interview he reflects upon the emergence and maturation of physical organic chemistry.


1937 B.A., Chemistry, Harvard University
1939 Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Chicago

  Professional Experience

E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company

1939 - 1942 Research Chemist, Jackson Laboratories

U.S. Rubber Company

1943 - 1949 Research Chemist

Lever Brothers Company

1949 - 1952 Research Associate

Columbia University

1952 - 1970 Professor, Department of Chemistry

Columbia University

1963 - 1966 Chairman, Department of Chemistry

University of Utah

1970 Distinguished Professor


1964 Elected to National Academy of Sciences
1965 Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1971 James Flack Norris Award, American Chemical Society
1975 Editor, Journal of the American Chemical Society

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family and Youth 1

Parents. A famous uncle. Familial influences. Youth in Winnetka. Early schooling and interest in science.

Undergraduate Education at Harvard 3

Influences of professors. Chemistry courses and textbooks. Research with C. H. Fisher and Max Tishler. Perceptions of chemistry. Classmates who became chemists.

Graduate Education at Chicago 7

Morris Kharasch and other organic chemists at Chicago. Wheland's and Westheimer's courses. Completion of the Ph.D. degree. The Kharasch group. Major review article with Mayo. Books and scientific papers read. Approach to organic chemistry.

Professional Career in Industry 13

Research position at DuPont. Marriage. State of organic chemistry around 1940. Research and colleagues at U. S. Rubber Co. Work at the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Organic chemistry in the postwar period. The Organic Reactions Mechanisms Conference of 1946. Papers published. Research at Lever Brothers.

Academic Career 25

Position at Columbia University. Colleagues. Creating a research group. Comments about graduate students. Chairmanship of chemistry department. Consulting for industry. The move to the University of Utah. Editorship of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Contributions to the field of chemistry.

Developments in Physical Organic Chemistry 29

Possible gap in development early in this century. Dichotomy between physical chemists and organic chemists. Transition from classical to modern organic chemistry. State of physical organic chemistry today.

Index 34

  About the Interviewer

Leon B. Gortler

Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds A.B. and M.S. degrees from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.

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