Oral history interview with Alfred R. Bader

Oral history interview with Alfred R. Bader

  • 1987-Jul-31
Photograph of Alfred R. Bader

Alfred Bader begins this interview with a discussion of his early years in Vienna, including his family background and Gymnasium education. This is followed by additional education in England, living in Canada as a refugee, and his undergraduate education at Queen's University. Bader then describes his graduate education with Louis F. Fieser at Harvard, and discusses the faculty and friends during his tenure there. The interview continues with Bader's move to Milwaukee, his research with PPG, and the origin and growth of the Aldrich Chemical Company, including the merger with Sigma Chemical Company and the decision to go public. The interview concludes with Bader's comments on his art collection and family matters.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 51 pages
  • 02:59:00
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute
Digitization funder
  • Audio synchronization made possible through the generous funding of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

About the Interviewer

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

Physical location

Oral history number 0074

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • April 28, 1924
  • Vienna, Austria
  • December 23, 2018


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1940 Brighton College of Technology
1945 Queen's University (Kingston, Ont.) BSc Engineering Chemistry
1946 Queen's University (Kingston, Ont.) BA History
1947 Queen's University (Kingston, Ont.) MS Chemistry
1949 Harvard University PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

Murphy Paint Company

  • 1943 to 1947 Chemist

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company

  • 1950 to 1954 Research Chemist and Organic Group Leader

Aldrich Chemical Company

  • 1951 Co-founder
  • 1954 to 1955 Chief Chemist
  • 1955 to 1975 President

Sigma-Aldrich Corporation

  • 1975 to 1980 President
  • 1980 to 1988 Chairman


Year(s) Award
1980 Honorary ScD degree, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
1983 Engineer-of-the-Year Award, Engineers and Scientists of Milwaukee, Inc.
1984 Honorary ScD degree, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1984 Honorary ScD degree, Purdue University
1986 Honorary LLD degree, Queen's University
2009 Pittcon Heritage Award, Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and the Chemical Heritage Foundation

Cite as

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

PDF — 274 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