Digital Collections

Oral history interview with John C. Bailar, Jr.

  • 1987-May-28 – 1987-Jun-17

Oral history interview with John C. Bailar, Jr.

  • 1987-May-28 – 1987-Jun-17

The interviews entail a discussion of John Bailar, Jr.'s scientific life, beginning with a description of his family background. His parents had a great influence on Bailar's early education; growing up, he often helped his father with his chemical research. This experience peaked Bailar's interest in pursuing chemistry at the University of Colorado, where he received a BA in 1924, followed by an MA in 1925. Bailar continued his education, earning a PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1928. He then took a position teaching general chemistry at the University of Illinois. While there, he changed his emphasis to inorganic chemistry, conducting research on isomerism and molecular rearrangements, and later on coordination compounds. By the early 1930s, Bailar had become a member of the graduate faculty, supervising the research of several graduate students. Throughout his career, he was heavily involved with the ACS; in 1959, he was elected president. The interviews end with Bailar's recollections of some of his most successful students, and his reflections on graduate education.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 33 pages
  • 02:06:00
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

Theodore L. Brown holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in chemistry. Since 1956, he has been a member of the faculty of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he is now Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus. He served the University in various capacities, including as Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate College during 1980–1986, as Founding Director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology during 1987–1993, and as Interim Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs during 1993. He is currently a member of the American Chemical Society Governing Board for Publishing as well as of the Board of Directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0073

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • May 27, 1904
  • Golden, Colorado, United States
  • October 17, 1991
  • Urbana, Illinois, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1924 University of Colorado Boulder BA Chemistry
1925 University of Colorado Boulder MA Chemistry
1928 University of Michigan PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Colorado Boulder

  • 1924 to 1925 Chemistry Fellow

University of Michigan

  • 1926 to 1928 Assistant in Chemistry

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • 1928 to 1930 Instructor in Chemistry
  • 1930 to 1935 Associate in Chemistry
  • 1935 to 1939 Assistant Professor
  • 1937 to 1951 Secretary of the Chemistry Department
  • 1939 to 1943 Associate Professor
  • 1941 to 1967 Head of Division of Inorganic Chemistry
  • 1943 to 1972 Professor
  • 1972 to 1987 Professor Emeritus


Year(s) Award
1946 Foster Lecturer, University of Buffalo
1957 Clark Lecturer, University of West Virginia
1959 Noyes Lecturer, Phi Lambda Upsilon, University of Illinois
1959 Hon. ScD, University of Colorado
1959 Hon. ScD,  University of Buffalo
1959 President, American Chemical Society
1960 Smith Lecturer, Oklahoma State University
1961 Award in Chemical Education, American Chemical Society
1962 Kuebler Award, Alpha Chi Sigma
1962 Merck Lecturer, Bucknell University
1963 to 1964 Member, President's Advisory Committee
1963 to 1971 Treasurer, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
1964 Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
1965 Dwyer Medal, Chemical Society of New South Wales
1966 Werner Memorial Lecturer, Zürich
1966 Werner Gold Medal, Swiss Chemical Society
1968 Dwyer Memorial Lecturer, Chemical Society of New South Wales
1968 Welch Foundation Lecturer
1968 American Cyanamid Lecturer, University of Connecticut
1968 Award for the Teaching of Chemistry, Manufacturing Chemists Association
1970 to 1971 National Lecturer, Sigma Xi
1972 Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1973 Hon. ScD, Lehigh University
1974 Honorary Fellow, Indian Chemical Society
1976 Honorary Member, Illinois State Academy of Science
1978 Heyrovsky Medal, Czechoslovakian Academy of Science
1982 Hon. Doctor of Humane Letters, Monmouth College
1983 Spicer Memorial Lecturer, Georgia Institute of Technology
1983 Ferst Award, Sigma Xi

Cite as

See our FAQ page to learn how to cite an oral history.

PDF — 218 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.

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads