Oral history interview with Herman E. Schroeder

Oral history interview with Herman E. Schroeder

  • 1986-Dec-30 (First session)
  • 1987-Jan-12 (Second session)
Photograph of Herman Schroeder
Science History Institute Collections, Photograph by Ray Ferguson

Herman Schroeder starts the interview by discussing his family background and growing up in Brooklyn. An early learner, Schroeder attended public and private high schools where his scientific interests were first aroused. After an early graduation he entered Harvard, and initially planned for a career in medicine. However, Schroeder soon changed set his mind on chemistry, in part influenced by his tutor, John Edsall. Staying on at Harvard for graduate study in the physical aspects of organic chemistry, Herman Schroeder investigated the rates and mechanism of the closure of large rings. He discusses the choice between industrial and academic careers and the advice of the Harvard faculty.

Arriving at the Du Pont Experimental Station in 1938, Schroeder outlines his initial assignments and his important wartime research on tire cord adhesives. Transferring to the Jackson Laboratories, he worked on both dyestuff synthesis and the mechanisms of dyeing synthetic fibers, as well as obtaining experience in production control. Moving to greater research responsibilities, Schroeder played an important role in the development of several polymers, which is described towards the end of the first interview. In a second interview, Ferguson asks Schroeder to comment on some of his Du Pont colleagues and on some of the academic consultants to the company. The interview concludes with some of Schroeder's retirement activities and a full account of the Louisville plant explosion.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 86 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

Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.

Physical location

Oral history number 0063

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Interviewee biographical information

  • July 06, 1915
  • Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • November 28, 2009
  • New Castle, Delaware, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1936 Harvard University AB Chemistry
1937 Harvard University AM Chemistry
1939 Harvard University PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

  • 1938 to 1945 Research Chemist, Chemical Department
  • 1945 to 1946 Research Chemist, Organic Chemicals Department, Jackson Laboratory
  • 1946 to 1948 Research Supervisor, Organic Chemicals Department, Jackson Laboratory
  • 1949 to 1950 Research Division Head, Organic Chemicals Department, Jackson Laboratory
  • 1951 to 1956 Assistant Laboratory Director, Organic Chemicals Department, Jackson Laboratory
  • 1957 to 1963 Assistant Director of Research, Elastomer Chemicals Department
  • 1963 to 1965 Director of Research, Elastomer Chemicals Department
  • 1965 to 1980 Director of Research and Development, Elastomer Chemicals Department

Schroeder Scientific Services, Inc.

  • 1980 to 1988


Year(s) Award
1936 summa cum laude, Harvard University
1936 Phi Beta Kappa
1979 General Award, International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers
1984 Goodyear Medal, American Chemical Society, Rubber Division

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PDF — 380 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

12 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads