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Oral history interview with Dale B. Baker

  • 1997-Jun-06

Oral history interview with Dale B. Baker

  • 1997-Jun-06

Dale Baker begins the interview with a discussion of his early years and family background. Inspired by a high school teacher, Baker decided to major in chemical engineering upon entering Ohio State University in 1938, receiving his B.Ch.E. in 1942 and his M.Sc. in chemistry in 1948. While a student, Baker began working for the American Chemical Society's [ACS] Chemical Abstracts Service as an office boy. Aside from a brief time as a chemist working with explosives at DuPont, Baker spent his entire career with the ACS and Chemical Abstracts Service. In 1946, Baker became assistant editor of Chemical Abstracts. He took on the extra responsibilities of managing the publications' finances and administrative coordination. Baker and his staff at Chemical Abstracts learned indexing and abstracting through hands-on work while seeking to automate and quicken the availability of chemical information. In 1958, Baker became Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, a position he held until 1986. Baker was instrumental in developing an on-line system for Chemical Abstracts in the early 1980s. While Director of Chemical Abstracts Service, Baker also served the ACS in various capacities, from Acting Executive to Director Emeritus. Baker concludes the interview with a discussion of management techniques, and reflections on his career and family.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 100 pages
  • 6 h 4 s
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewers

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a PhD in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an MS in library and information science from Florida State University; and an MA in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.

Leo Slater was the 2001–2002 John C. Haas Fellow and a senior research historian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, where he also served as Director of Historical Services from 1997 to 2000. A former research chemist at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, he received his doctorate in History from Princeton University in 1997.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0160

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • September 19, 1920
  • Bucyrus, Ohio, United States
  • December 11, 2005
  • Columbus, Ohio, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1942 Ohio State University BChE Chemical Engineering
2016 Ohio State University MSc Chemistry

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

  • 1942 to 1945 Chemist-Surpervisor

American Chemical Society. Chemical Abstracts Service

  • 1946 to 1950 Assistant Editor
  • 1951 to 1957 Associate Editor
  • 1958 Associate Director
  • 1958 to 1986 Director

American Chemical Society

  • 1965 to 1966 Acting Executive
  • 1972 Acting Manager
  • 1980 Chief Operating Officer
  • 1983 to 1986 Deputy Executive Director
  • 1986 to 1998 Director Emeritus


Year(s) Award
1968 Boss of the Year, Columbus Junior Chamber of Commerce
1968 Technical Man of the Year, Columbus Technical Council
1968 Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station
1970 Alumni Centennial Award, OSU Alumni Association
1970 Distinguished Alumnus Award, OSU College of Engineering
1971 Twenty-five year Service Award, American Chemical Society
1973 Man of the Day, WCOL Radio Station
1974 Miles G. Conrad Award, NFAIS
1977 Doctor of Sacology, US Air Force, Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska
1979 Patterson-Crane Award, American Chemical Society
1983 Award of Merit, American Society of Information Science
1986 Directors, Officers, Councilors, Management, and Staff Award on Retirement American Chemical Society
1986 Honorary PhD, The Ohio State University
1986 Herman Skolnik Award, ACS Division of Chemical Information
1987 to 1998 Honorary Fellowship, Royal Society of Chemistry
1991 Hall of Fame Inductee, Ohio Science, Technology & Industry
1992 Professional Achievement Award, OSU Alumni Association
1993 Distinguished Service Award, ACS Board of Directors
1997 Honorary Chairman, ACS Cols. Sect. Centennial (1897-1997)

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PDF — 472 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

12 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads