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Oral history interview with Tadeus Reichstein

  • 1985-Apr-22

Oral history interview with Tadeus Reichstein

  • 1985-Apr-22

In this interview Tadeus Reichstein discusses his long and distinguished career as an organic chemist. He begins by recalling his family and early education in Germany and Switzerland. The interview continues with Reichstein describing his advanced work at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and recalling his professors and colleagues, especially Staudinger and Ruzicka. In 1938, Reichstein moved to the Pharmaceutical Institute at Basel, and the central portion of the interview focuses on his research leading to the Nobel Prize in 1950. This includes work in Vitamin C synthesis, cortisone and other adrenal hormones, and glycosides. The interview concludes with Reichstein expressing his personal philosophy, his views on the changes in chemistry, and his interest in botany.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 34 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

Tonja A. Koeppel received a master’s degree in chemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1944. Since then she has written about chemistry, done research, and taught college chemistry. Dr. Koeppel is also a historian of chemistry. In 1973 she earned a PhD degree in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania. She is especially interested in the development of organic chemistry in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0040

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • July 20, 1897
  • Wloclawek, Poland
  • August 01, 1996
  • Basel, Switzerland


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1920 Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich Diploma Chemical Engineering
1922 Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich DIng Chemistry

Professional Experience

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

  • 1929 Lecturer
  • 1934 Assistant Professor
  • 1937 Associate Professor

Universität Basel

  • 1938 to 1950 Head, Pharmaceutical Institute
  • 1938 to 1950 Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • 1946 to 1960 Head, Institute of Organic Chemistry
  • 1950 to 1960 Professor, Organic Chemistry


Year(s) Award
1947 Marcel-Benoist Prize
1950 Nobel Prize

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PDF — 1.4 MB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

3 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads