Oral history interview with William Wishnick

Oral history interview with William Wishnick

  • 1991-May-13

William Wishnick begins this interview by describing his parents' careers and the founding of the Wishnick-Tumpeer Chemical Company in 1920. His father's company, now called Witco, expanded with the acquisition of several domestic arid international companies and went public in 1958. After serving in the military and completing his education, Wishnick began working for the company in 1949. Wishnick served as vice president and treasurer, executive vice president, president, and chairman of the board and chief operating officer until his retirement in 1990. Wishnick discusses how the company grew with the addition of manufacturing and marketing, the purchase of other companies, and the diversification of product lines. Wishnick concludes the interview by discussing how the nature of doing business has changed over the years.

Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 65 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

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.

Physical location


Interviewee biographical information

  • November 09, 1924
  • Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • April 29, 2010
  • Park City, Utah, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1924 University of Texas at Austin BA Business Administration

Professional Experience

Witco Chemical Corporation

  • 1949 to 1950 Manufacturing Department, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1950 to 1951 Chief, Manufacturing Operations, Perth Amboy, New Jersey
  • 1951 to 1953 Sales Department, Organic Division, New York
  • 1953 to 1955 Vice President and Treasurer
  • 1955 to 1960 Executive Vice President
  • 1960 to 1964 Vice Chairman of the Board
  • 1964 to 1990 Chairman of the Board
  • 1971 to 1975 President
  • 1971 to 1990 Chief Executive Officer


Year(s) Award
1989 DEng (honorary), Polytechnic University

Cite as

William Wishnick, interviewed by James J. Bohning in Witco Chemical Corporation on May 13, 1991. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0093. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/05741s953.

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PDF — 295 KB

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

6 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads