Oral history interview with Raymond F. Boyer

Oral history interview with Raymond F. Boyer

  • 1986-Jan-14 (First session)
  • 1986-Aug-19 (Second session)

Raymond Boyer begins the interview with a brief description of his family, childhood, and school days in Ohio, touching on his early interest in electricity. He then tells of his undergraduate and graduate years at Case Institute of Technology, focusing on the influence of the faculty there. In discussing his career at The Dow Chemical Company, Boyer provides accounts of discoveries and innovations, especially involving polystyrene; several leading figures there, including Willard and H. H. Dow; and major organizational changes that occurred during his career. Concluding with a summary of his most recent research at the Michigan Molecular Institute, Boyer includes an interesting anecdote involving a Canadian chemist with the same name.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 59 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 J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.

Physical location


Interviewee biographical information

  • February 06, 1910
  • Denver, Colorado, United States
  • February 23, 1993
  • Midland, Michigan, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1933 Case Institute of Technology BS Astronomy
1935 Case Institute of Technology MS Physics

Professional Experience

Dow Chemical Company

  • 1935 to 1945 Physicist, Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)
  • 1945 Group Leader, Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)
  • 1945 to 1948 Assistant Director,, Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)
  • 1948 to 1952 Director,, Physics Laboratory (Physical Research Laboratory)
  • 1949 to 1952 Secretary, Executive Research Committee
  • 1952 to 1969 Director of Plastics Reserach
  • 1969 to 1972 Assistant Director, US Area Research and Development (Polymer Science)
  • 1972 to 1975 Research Fellow

Michigan Molecular Institute

  • 1975 to 1987 Research Professor and Affiliate Scientist


Year(s) Award
1955 Honorary DSc, Case Institute of Technology
1968 Gold Medal, Society of Plastics Engineers
1970 Borden Award in Organic Coatings and Plastics Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1972 Swinburne Gold Medal, Plastics Institute of Great Britain
1978 Member, National Academy of Engineering
1983 Best Papers Award, Midland Section, Sigma Xi
1991 Election to Plastics Hall of Fame, June 20, 1991, sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Washington, D. C.

Cite as

Raymond F. Boyer, interviewed by James J. Bohning in Michigan Molecular Institute on August 19, 1986. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0015. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/bn999774m.

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PDF — 3.8 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

9 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads