Oral history interview with Malcolm E. Pruitt

Oral history interview with Malcolm E. Pruitt

  • 1986-Jan-15

In this interview Mac Pruitt discusses his early upbringing in a rural area of Texas and his struggles to complete undergraduate education during the Depression. After starting as a control chemist on the graveyard shift at the Dow facility in Freeport, Texas, Pruitt progressed through the laboratories and embarked on his extensive studies of the ionic polymerization of cyclic oxide monomers. The circumstances of his move into senior research management and his eventual transfer to Midland, Michigan, are embellished by Pruitt's reflections on R&D and on his initiatory role in the formation of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology and the Council for Chemical Research.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 51 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


Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • October 15, 1915
  • Hamilton, Texas, United States
  • May 30, 2003
  • Brazoria, Texas, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1941 Abilene Christian University BS Chemistry

Professional Experience

Hamilton County Public School

  • 1936 to 1941

Clyde Independent Schools

  • 1941 to 1942

Dow Chemical Company

  • 1942 to 1943 Control Chemist
  • 1943 to 1944 Research Chemist, Gas Laboratory
  • 1944 to 1946 Research Chemist, Organic Laboratory
  • 1946 to 1948 Project Leader
  • 1948 to 1951 Group Leader
  • 1951 to 1954 Laboratory Group Leader
  • 1954 to 1962 Director, Organic Products Development Laboratory
  • 1962 to 1967 Director of Product Research
  • 1967 to 1971 Director of Research & Development, Dow Chemical USA
  • 1971 to 1978 Director of Research and Development, Dow Chemical Company
  • 1975 to 1980 Vice-President
  • 1978 to 1980 Corporate Director of Research and Development

Council for Chemical Research

  • 1980 to 1982 Chairman
  • 1982 to 1989 Honorary Chairman


Year(s) Award
1972 Alumni Citation, Abilene Christian University
1973 Honorary Doctor of Science, Abilene Christian University
1978 Industrial Research Institute Medal
1981 Society of Research Adminstrators Award
1982 Commercial Development Association Award
1983 Outstanding Alumnus, Abilene Christian University
1985 First Recipient of Mac Pruitt Award, Council for Chemical Research
1987 Earle Barnes Award, American Chemical Society

Cite as

Pruitt, M. E. (Malcolm E.), interviewed by James J. Bohning in Midland, Michigan on January 15, 1986. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0039. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/fn107014d.

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PDF — 262 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

6 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads