Oral history interview with Sally Chapman

Oral history interview with Sally Chapman

  • 2009-Jan-05 (First session)
  • 2009-Jan-06 (Second session)

Sally Chapman's interest in science was fostered both by her "tinkerer" father and by the nationwide interest in innovative science education that occurred after Sputnik. She attended Smith College and worked for the Quaker Chemical Corporation, where she assisted technicians and experienced basic, day-to-day activities in a lab. Realizing she was not ready for graduate school as she completed undergraduate work at Smith, Chapman became a computer programmer at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in New York. After her stint in New York, she pursued graduate school, choosing Yale University, where she worked with Raymond Suplinskas on Hot Atom Chemistry. After two postdoctoral positions, Chapman accepted a position at Barnard College. During the interview Chapman talked about her work in the community of women in chemistry, which has included the Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACh), advising and mentoring students, and various other activities.

Property Value
Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 68 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

Hilary Domush was a Program Associate in the Center for Oral History at CHF from 2007–2015. Previously, she earned a BS in chemistry from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 2003.  She then completed an MS in chemistry and an MA in history of science both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her graduate work in the history of science focused on early nineteenth-century chemistry in the city of Edinburgh, while her work in the chemistry was in a total synthesis laboratory.  At CHF, she worked on projects such as the Pew Biomedical Scholars, Women in Chemistry, Atmospheric Science, and Catalysis.

Physical location


Interviewee biographical information

  • July 28, 1946
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • June 02, 2012


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1968 Smith College AB
1973 Yale University PhD

Professional Experience

University of California, Irvine

  • 1973 to 1974 Post Doctorate, Chemistry, under Donald L. Bunker

University of California, Berkeley

  • 1974 to 1975 Post Doctorate, Chemistry, under William H. Miller

Barnard College

  • 1975 to 1981 Assistant Professor, Chemistry
  • 1981 to 1986 Associate Professor, Chemistry
  • 1986 to 2011 Professor, Chemistry
  • 1989 to 1994 Ann Whitney Olin Professor


Year(s) Award
1970 to 1973 NSF Predoctoral Fellow
1978 to 1980 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow
2002 AWIS Metro-NY: Outstanding Woman Scientist
2005 AWIS Fellow

Cite as

Sally Chapman, interviewed by Hilary Domush in Barnard College on January 5, 2009. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0633. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/ng451j41f.

  Export citation (RIS) ?

This citation is automatically generated and may contain errors.

PDF — 868 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