Roger Adams:

An Inventory of the Papers of Roger Adams at the University of Illinois Archives.

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Roger Adams
Title: Papers of Roger Adams
Dates: (1889-1971)
Abstract: Papers of Roger Adams (1889-1971), professor of chemistry (1916-57), & department head (1926-54), including personal items; photographs; correspondence; tape-recorded interviews; speeches; reports; manuscripts; reprints; books; documents; programs; and newspaper clippings.
Volume: 24 cubic feet.
Record Series Number:15/5/23

Biographical or Historical Notes

Roger Adams (1889-1971), organic chemist and Head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (1926-54), was a native of Massachusetts and was educated at the Cambridge Latin School, Harvard University (AB 1909, AM 1910, and Ph.D. 1912), the University of Berlin (1912-13) and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (1913).

After teaching organic chemistry three years at Harvard and Radcliffe he became an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1916. In 1919 he advanced to full professor and seven years later was selected head of the department. Building upon the foundation laid by his predecessor, William A. Noyes, he made the department one of the strongest in the nation. His reputation within the university was also very high. He was seriously considered as a candidate for the presidency in 1929, 1933, 1944, and 1954.

His extensive research included work in the fields of organic arsenic compounds, local anesthetics, stereochemistry, the structure of natural products, and gossypol. Of particular interest is his research on Chaülmoogric acid, which is used in the treatment of leprosy, and the chemistry of marihuana. He was the author or co-author of three books and over 430 articles.

During World War I he served as a major in the Chemical Warfare Service in Washington, working as a Section Chief with James B. Conant in the development of gases for the military. A sternutator which he synthesized was named "Adamsite." During World War II he returned to Washington to serve as a member of the National Defense Research Committee. At the termination of hostilities he became the Scientific Advisor to the Military Governor of Germany, General Lucius M. Clay, and served as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Mission to the Military Government in Japan.

His students have attained important positions in the chemical industry and institutions of higher education and have made significant contributions to chemistry on their own. Among the more notable were Wallace H. Carothers, the developer of nylon, Ernest H. Volwiler, the director of research for Abbott Laboratories, and Wallace R. Brode of the National Bureau of Standards.

Adams served as a consultant for several chemical companies - E. I. Du Pont and Abbott Laboratories in particular - and was on the board of directors of such research foundations as the Battelle Memorial Institute, the Alfred Sloan Fund, the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, the Robert Welch Foundation, and the Otto Haas Trust Fund.

He served as an officer in many of the leading scientific organizations in the country. He was president of the American Chemical Society (1935) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1950) and was chairman of the Chemical Section of the National Academy of Sciences (1938-1941). He received many honorary awards and degrees, including the Priestly Medal (1946) and the Parsons Award (1958) of the American Chemical Society, the National Medal of Science (1964), and honorary membership in most of the chemical societies of Europe.

His research, consulting, and professional activities produced a sizable correspondence with foreign and domestic scientists, including Conant, Carothers, Volwiler, Glenn T. Seaborg, Warren Weaver, Alan T. Waterman, Detlev Bronk, Wallace R. Brode, Frederick Seitz, E. K. Bolton, Vannevar Bush, George Kistiakowski, Vladimir Prelog, P. E. Verkade, Sir Robert Robinson, and Richard Willstätter.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Papers of Roger Adams (1889-1971), professor of chemistry (1916-57), & department head (1926-54),including personal items relating to family, education and travel; photographs; correspondence with family, foundation officials, businessmen, officials of professional societies, scientists & former students; tape-recorded interviews on the chemistry department and financial support of research & graduate work; speeches; reports; manuscripts; reprints; books; correspondence & research on the chemistry on marijuana (1938-41); documents about service in the Chemical Warfare Service (1917-18) & National Defense Research Committee (1941-46) & as scientific advisor in Germany (1945-46) & Japan (1947-48); programs of symposia & award ceremonies & newspaper clippings relating to awards & activities. Three subject files (1949-71) contain correspondence, reports, agendas, minutes, memoranda & newsletters relating to associations with the Battelle Memorial Institute, Otto Haas Trust Fund, Robert Welch Foundation, Alfred Sloan Fund, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Institute, International Sugar Research Foundation, National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council, National Science Foundation, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, American Philosophical Society, International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry, American Institute of Chemists, The Chemurgic Council, Illinois Board of Natural Resources & Conservation, Abbott Laboratories, E.I . DuPont Co., Coca Cola Co., Organic Reactions, Organic Syntheses, Cosmos Club & dealing with election, appointment of personnel, research, awarding of grants & securities investments. Correspondents include Wallace Carothers, James Conant, Ernest Volwiler, Robert Robinson & Richard Willstatter.


Arranged by type of material & chronologically or alphabetically thereunder

Subject Terms

The subject headings used by the University of Illinois Archives were developed by University of Illinois Archivist Maynard Brichford and University Archivist Bill Maher. They are specific to this institution
Abbott Laboratories
Alfred Sloan Foundation
Alpha Chi Sigma
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Association for the Advancement of Sciences
American Chemical Society
American Institute of Chemists
American Philosophical Society
Battelle Memorial Institute
Chemical Warfare Service
Chemurgic Council
Coca Cola Company
Cosmos Club
Du Pont De Nemours Corporation, E.I.
Harvard University
Illinois Board of Natural Resources
International Sugar Research Foundation
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
National Defense Research Committee
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Robert Welch Foundation
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Institute
Australia - Science and Technology
Berlin, Germany
Boston, Massachusetts
Germany - Business and Industry
Germany - Science and Technology
India - Science and Technology
Japan - Business and Industry
Japan - Science and Technology
New Guinea - History and Geography
New Zealand - Business and Industry
New Zealand - Science and Technology
American Literature
European Travel
Graduate Study
Industrial Chemistry
Laboratory Notes
Organic Chemistry
Organic Reactions
Organic Syntheses
Otto Haas Trust Fund
Synthetic Products
University Patents
World War II - Diplomacy and Politics
World War II - Intelligence, Morale and Propaganda
World War II - Military Government and Peace
World War II - Scientific Research and Development
World War I - Scientific Research and Development

Related Material

The University Archives holds a wide range of material related to the School of Chemical Sciences

Detailed Description/Box and Folder Listing

Genealogical, 1872-1903. Box 1 - 1

Roger Adams File, 1889-1905. Box 2 - 2

Roger Adams File, Harvard, 1905-12 . Box 3 - 3

Roger Adams File, 1912-39. Box 4 - 4

Roger Adams File , 1942-47. Box 5 - 5

Roger Adams file, 1948-71. Box 6 - 6

Social Files, 1912-71. Box 7 - 8

Certificates and Honorary Degrees, 1954, 1957. Box 9 - 9

Roger Adams Memorial Exhibit, 1971-72. Box 9 - 9

Dictated Statements, 1964. Box 9 - 9

Tape-Recorded Interviews, 1964-65 and August 8, 1967. Box 9 - 9

William Lycan Retirement Dinner, January 1969. Box -

Manuscripts, Publications, Speeches, and Programs. Box 9 - 11

Subject File, 1953-71. Box 12 - 15

Subject File, 1949-70. Box 15 - 27

Subject File, 1959-71. Box 27 - 51

Marihuana Research, 1938-41 . Box 52 - 52

Administrative Files. Box 52 - 53

Speeches, Reports and Manuscripts, ca. 1923-1967. Box 54 - 54

Publications, Newspaper Clippings and Reprints, 1884-1968. Box 55 - 57

Germany, 1936, 1945-46. Box 58 - 58

Japan. Box 59 - 60

World War II and Occupation Publications. Box 61 - 61

Family Photograph Albums, 1860-88. Box 62 - 62

Photographs. Box 63 - 63

Honors, Awards, and Citations, 1905-64. Box 64 - 64

Harvard. Box 65 - 66

Oversized Items. Box 66 - 66