Oral history interview with Delbert H. Meyer

Oral history interview with Delbert H. Meyer

  • 1997-Jan-20

Delbert Meyer begins his oral history with a description of his family life as a youth in Maynard, Iowa. He was uncertain of his future career choice and served for two years in the U.S. Navy. Influential professors at Wartburg College and later at the University of Iowa fueled his interest in chemistry. Meyer spent thirty-nine years with Amoco, beginning as an exploratory researcher for Standard Oil Company in 1953 and, later, becoming a research consultant at Amoco in 1992. During his career at Amoco Corporation, Meyer developed a faster and more economical method for producing purified terephthalic acid (PTA), the major material used to make polyester. He eventually moved into research management and product development. Meyer concluded with a discussion scientific innovation as a result of need for products in the marketplace, speculation on the future of research and development management in the chemical sciences, and reflections on winning the 1995 Perkin Medal.

Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 30 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 G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.

Physical location


Interviewee biographical information

  • August 28, 1926
  • Maynard, Iowa, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1949 Wartburg College BA Chemistry
1953 University of Iowa PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Amoco Corporation

  • 1953 to 1961 Research Chemist, Standard Oil Company, Whiting, Indiana
  • 1961 to 1967 Research Chemist, Amoco Chemical Company, Whiting, Indiana
  • 1967 to 1977 Research Supervisor, Naperville, Illinois
  • 1977 to 1989 Director, Explorator Research Division, Naperville, Illinois
  • 1989 to 1992 Research Consultant, Naperville, Illinois
  • 1992 Retired


Year(s) Award
1983 Alumni Citation Award, Wartburg College
1989 William M. Burton Award, Amoco Chemical Company
1992 U. S. Medal of Technology
1993 Honorary D. Sc. , Wartburg College
1995 Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)

Cite as

Delbert Henry Meyer, interviewed by James G. Traynham in Naperville, Illinois on January 20, 1997. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0151. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/3j3333291.

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PDF — 174 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

2 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads