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Oral history interview with Frederick T. Wall

  • 1991-Jun-21

Oral history interview with Frederick T. Wall

  • 1991-Jun-21

Frederick Wall begins his oral history discussing his family background and childhood in Minnesota, attending the University of Minnesota, and studying chemistry and chemical engineering. After a stint at Caltech with Pauling, Wall moved back to the University of Minnesota and earning his Ph.D. in 1935. At the University of Illinois he worked on infrared spectroscopy, gradually becoming interested in polymers. During World War II he volunteered to work on the rubber problem. In 1963, Wall moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara and later the University of California, San Diego. In 1969, he became executive director of the American Chemical Society (ACS), but soon rejoined academia, becoming professor of chemistry at Rice University.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 61 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.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0098

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Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • December 14, 1912
  • Chisholm, Minnesota, United States
  • March 31, 2010
  • Los Angeles, California, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1933 University of Minnesota BS Chemistry
1937 University of Minnesota PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • 1937 to 1939 Instructor
  • 1939 to 1941 Associate
  • 1941 to 1943 Assistant Professor
  • 1943 to 1946 Associate Professor
  • 1946 to 1964 Professor
  • 1950 to 1963 Chairman, University Research Board
  • 1955 to 1963 Dean of Graduate College and Research Professor

University of California, Santa Barbara

  • 1964 to 1966 Professor and Chairman, Department of Chemistry
  • 1965 to 1966 Vice Chancellor for Research

University of California, San Diego

  • 1966 to 1969 Professor of Chemistry, Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Researc
  • 1981 to 1991 Adjunct Professor of Chemistry

American Chemical Society

  • 1969 to 1972 Executive Director

Rice University

  • 1972 to 1978 Professor of Chemistry

San Diego State University

  • 1979 to 1981 Lecturer in Chemistry


Year(s) Award
1945 Award in Pure Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1959 Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Minnesota
1959 Member, National Academy of Sciences
1959 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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PDF — 392 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

9 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads