Oral history interview with Donald J. Cram

Oral history interview with Donald J. Cram

  • 1981-Jan-14

In this interview Donald Cram talks briefly about his family and growing up in Vermont, Florida and New York, and this is followed by a description of his experiences at Rollins College and his start in the world of chemistry. Next he talks about his graduate work at the University of Nebraska with Norman Cromwell, the circumstances which led him to work at Merck during World War II, and his work at Merck and the chemists with whom he collaborated. He then talks at length about his doctoral work at Harvard, his research, his coursework, cumulative and foreign language exams, and his interaction with various members of the faculty.

In 1947 he took a position at UCLA, and he describes much of his research through the early 1960s, Saul Winstein and his interactions with Winstein, and the changes that took place over thirty years in the UCLA chemistry department. The last part of the interview includes comments on the changes that have taken place in organic chemistry as a result of various factors, the advantages to the academic community of interactions with industry, the state and future of organic chemistry, and a description of his major research effort in the late 1970s, guest-host chemistry. It was this research that led to his sharing the Nobel Prize in 1987. In the final pages of the interview he talks about the influence of theory and theoretical papers on the development of chemistry.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 53 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Donald J. Cram, interviewed by Leon B. Gortler in University of California, Los Angeles on January 14, 1981. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0079. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/6w924c960.

  Export citation (RIS) ?

This citation is automatically generated and may contain errors.

Transcript (Published Version)

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

5 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads