Dipping anti-vesicant synthetic rubber gloves, Providence, RI, 1942(?). Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USZ62-96636.

Polymers, one of the most diverse groups of natural and man-made chemical substances—including plastics like polyethylene, cellulose, polyamides like nylon, and natural and synthetic rubber—have been a notable interest of the Chemical Heritage Foundation.  Polymer materials developed rapidly in the twentieth century, as chemists from the government, industry, and the academy developed new compounds and new uses for them.  Our Polymer Project documented the growth of this field of research  from the perspective of some of the most prominent chemists involved.  The project also provided insight into various specific topics like: the role of polymer research in World War II, including the United States Synthetic Rubber Program; the rise of polymer chemistry education; and the part that institutions such as DuPont and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn) played in the development of polymer research.

The Polymer Project oral histories have been utilized in many facets of CHF’s work, such as in the production of Polymers and People, a traveling exhibit; in Polymer Pioneers, a publication focusing on influential polymer chemists; and in Peter J. T. Morris’s The American Synthetic Rubber Research Program (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989).   

Individuals interviewed for this collection so far are:



Click here for a more detailed description of each of the oral histories in this collection.