Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Keith J. Laidler

  • 1983-Oct-13 (First session)
  • 1983-Oct-14 (Second session)
  • 1983-Oct-18 (Third session)

Oral history interview with Keith J. Laidler

  • 1983-Oct-13 (First session)
  • 1983-Oct-14 (Second session)
  • 1983-Oct-18 (Third session)

In this interview, K. J. Laidler recalls his childhood, early education, and undergraduate days at Oxford University. He then speaks about his colleagues and teachers at Princeton University where he did graduate work. A consideration of the inception and development of the transition-state theory follows. Laidler then appraises the research that he did both with Steacie in Canada an independently at the Catholic University of America. He also comments upon the nitric oxide research of Hinshelwood and on his own recent work at the University of Ottawa. Finally, Laidler recollects the personal characteristics of several eminent chemists, among them Cyril Hinshelwood, Henry Eyring, and Hugh Stott Taylor.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 48 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

Mary Christine King was born in China and educated in Ireland. She obtained a BSc degree in chemistry from the University of London in 1968, which was followed by an MSc in polymer and fiber science (1970) and a PhD for a thesis on the hydrodynamic properties of paraffins in solution (1973), both from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. After working with Joseph Needham at Cambridge, she received a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the Open University (1980) and thereafter worked at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Ottawa, where she carried out research with Dr. Keith Laidler. King died in an automobile accident in late 1987; her recent biography E. W. R. Steacie and Science in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 1989) was published posthumously.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0002

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • January 03, 1916
  • Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • August 26, 2003
  • Ottawa, Canada


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1937 University of Oxford BA Chemistry
1940 Princeton University PhD Physical Chemistry
1955 University of Oxford MA Physical Chemistry
1956 University of Oxford DSc Physical Chemistry

Professional Experience

National Research Council Canada

  • 1940 to 1942 Research Chemist

Canadian Armaments Research and Development Establishment

  • 1942 to 1944 Science Officer
  • 1944 to 1946 Chief Science Officer and Superintendent of Physics and Math Wing

Catholic University of America, Chemistry Department

  • 1946 to 1955 Assistant to associate professor

University of Ottawa, Department of Chemistry

  • 1955 to 1981 Professor
  • 1961 to 1966 Chairman
  • 1962 to 1966 Vice-Dean, Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

University of Sussex

  • 1966 to 1967 Commonwealth Visiting Professor

University of Ottawa

  • 1981 to 1984 Emeritus Professor of Chemistry


Year(s) Award
1977 Queen's Jubilee Medal

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PDF — 3.7 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

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads