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Oral history interview with Henry Taube

  • 1986-Mar-19

Oral history interview with Henry Taube

  • 1986-Mar-19

This brief, informal interview begins with Taube describing his early career at Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley, and his decision to accept a position at the University of Chicago, where In 1956 he became chairman of the chemistry department. Taube then discusses his relationship with Warren Johnson, the dean of the physical sciences, who he felt helped the department survive in terms of balancing the budget and finding financial support. Taube then reflects on the history of the chemistry department and the various members of the faculty who ran the department in its early years. Next, Taube discusses his means of funding his research during his early years at the University of Chicago and his work with mass spectrometry. While at the University of Chicago, Taube worked with Frank H. Westheimer amd Willard H. Libby. Taube concludes his interview by discussing the ways in which his career as an instructor at Cornell and the research he was involved with negatively affected his first marriage and how he learned later to delegate authority and find balance between his professional and personal life.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 19 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

Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds AB and MS degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0298

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • November 30, 1915
  • Neudorf, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • November 16, 2005
  • Stanford, California, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1935 University of Saskatchewan BS
1937 University of Saskatchewan MS
1940 University of California, Berkeley PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of California, Berkeley

  • 1940 Instructor

Cornell University

  • 1941 to 1944 Instructor
  • 1944 to 1946 Assistant Professor

University of Chicago

  • 1946 to 1948 Assistant Professor
  • 1948 to 1953 Associate Professor
  • 1953 to 1961 Professor
  • 1956 to 1959 Chairman

Stanford University

  • 1961 to 1986 Professor
  • 1972 to 1974 Chairman
  • 1978 to 1979 Chairman
  • 1986 Professor Emeritus


Year(s) Award
1949 Guggenheim Fellow
1955 Guggenheim Fellow
1955 American Chemical Society Award for Nuclear Applications in Chemistry
1960 Harrison Howe Award, Rochester Section, American Chemical Society
1964 Chandler Medal, Columbia University
1966 John Gamble Kirkwood Award, New Haven Section, Society
1967 American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry
1971 Nichols Medal, New York, American Chemical Society
1971 Willard Gibbs Medal, Chicago Section, American Chemical Society
1973 F. P. Dwyer Medal, University of New South Wales, Australia
1973 Honorary Doctorate, (L.L.D.) University of Saskatchewan
1976 Marguerite Blake Wilbur Endowed Professorship
1977 National Medal of Science, Washington, DC
1979 Allied Chemical Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Innovative Science
1979 Degree of PhD honoris causa of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
1980 T. W. Richards Medal of the Northeastern Section, American Chemical Society
1981 American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry of the Monsanto Company
1981 The Linus Pauling Award, Puget Sound Section, American Chemical Society
1983 National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences
1983 Bailar Medal, University of Illinois
1983 Doctor of Science, University of Chicago
1983 Robert A. Welch Foundation Award in Chemistry
1983 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1984 Doctor of Science, Polytechnic Institute, New York
1984 Honorary Member, College of Chemists of Catalonia and Beleares
1985 Priestly Medal, American Chemical Society
1985 Doctor of Science, State University of New York
1985 Corresponding Member, Academy of Arts and Science of Puerto Rico
1986 Honorary Member, Canadian Society for Chemistry
1986 Distinguished Achievement Award, International Precious Metals Institute
1986 The Oesper Award, The Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society
1987 Doctor of Science, University of Guelph
1988 Honorary Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
1988 Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Seton Hall University
1988 Doctor of Science, Lajos Kossuth University of Debrecen, Hungary
1989 Honorary Fellowship, Royal Society of Chemistry
1989 Honorary Fellowship, Indian Chemical Society
1990 G. M. Kosolapoff Award, Auburn Section, American Chemical Society
1990 Doctor of Science, Northwestern University

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PDF — 110 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

2 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads