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Oral history interview with Elizabeth Dyer

  • 1986-Oct-13

Oral history interview with Elizabeth Dyer

  • 1986-Oct-13

Elizabeth Dyer recounts her childhood in Haverill, Massachusetts and entering Mount Holyoke College at the age of seventeen. There she was influenced by two outstanding teachers, Louisa Stevenson and Dorothy Hahn, which led first to a major in chemistry, and then to the M. A. degree. It was at Mount Holyoke that Dyer had her first experience of teaching chemistry before she moved to Yale for Ph.D. studies and later post-doctoral work, researching heterocyclic chemistry under the guidance of Treat B. Johnson. In 1933 Elizabeth Dyer accepted an instructorship at the Women's College, University of Delaware, where she was to remain for the rest of her career. She discusses her early years there before the merger of the Women's and Men's Colleges and recounts her sabbatical year working with George Barger at the University of Edinburgh. In 1943 she commenced her research studies in polymer chemistry, largely at the suggestion of the Armstrong Cork Company. She describes her linoleate copolymerization work and her later polyurethane studies. As a consequence of the new research initiative, Dyer set up courses in polymer chemistry, some of the earliest after the polymer program at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. In the final section of the interview Elizabeth Dyer reflects on her priorities as an academic and briefly discusses her retirement hobbies.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 36 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

Herman Skolnik received a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Hercules, Inc., as a research chemist in 1942, and served as a divisional research manager from 1952 until his retirement in 1979. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Chemical Documentation, and has published over 200 papers and four books, including A Century of Chemistry, the centennial history of the American Chemical Society.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0060

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • May 10, 1906
  • Haverill, Massachusetts, United States
  • November 25, 1995
  • Hockessin, Delaware, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1927 Mount Holyoke College BA Chemistry
1929 Mount Holyoke College MA Chemistry
1931 Yale University PhD Chemistry
1933 Yale University Postdoctoral Fellowship

Professional Experience

University of Delaware

  • 1933 to 1940 Instructor, Department of Chemistry
  • 1940 to 1947 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • 1947 to 1951 Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • 1951 to 1971 Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • 1971 to 1987 Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry


Year(s) Award
1969 Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Delaware
1971 Elizabeth Dyer Teaching Award established for graduate assistants in chemistry, University of Delaware

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PDF — 1.7 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

2 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads