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Photograph of Sidney M. Edelstein

Oral history interview with Sidney Edelstein

  • 1987-Aug-31 (First session)
  • 1988-Feb-24 (Second session)

Oral history interview with Sidney Edelstein

  • 1987-Aug-31 (First session)
  • 1988-Feb-24 (Second session)

In this interview Sidney Edelstein begins with his family life in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and includes his early education and experiences at the Baylor School in Chattanooga. He describes his undergraduate career at MIT, his interest in cellulose chemistry, and recalls his first employment at the Dixie Mercerizing Company in the midst of the Depression. The interview continues with Edelstein's early entrepreneurial activities, and his term as an AATCC Research Associate. The formation of Lamede, Inc., and Edelstein's position as research director at Hart Chemical Company are discussed in detail. Edelstein continues with his work with the Army Quartermaster Corps during World War II, and difficulties with the Sylvania Industrial Company. The second section of the interview begins with the formation of the Dexter Chemical Corporation, and continues with the company's development, first products, sales figures, subsidiaries, and international operations. Edelstein explains his interest in the history of dyestuffs, including the articles he wrote, and the benefit of history to the textile industry. The interview continues with Edelstein's key role in the history of the American Chemical Society Division of the History of Chemistry, and focuses on the personalities and operations in the early days of the Division. The origin of the Dexter Award is described, and the first recipients discussed. The interview concludes with Edelstein's philanthropic activities, and the Edelstein Center at the Hebrew University.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 90 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 Interviewers

Jeffrey L. Sturchio is president and CEO of the Global Health Council. Previously he served as vice president of corporate responsibility at Merck & Co., president of the Merck Company Foundation, and chairman of the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa. Sturchio is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Healthy Next Generation of the World Economic Forum. He received an AB in history from Princeton University and a PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0075

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • January 22, 1912
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
  • September 15, 1994
  • Bronx, New York, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1932 Massachusetts Institute of Technology BS Chemistry

Professional Experience

Dixie Mercerizing Company

  • 1935 Textile Microscopist and Research Chemist

American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists

  • 1935 to 1938 Research Associate, University of Chattanooga

Lamede, Inc.

  • 1938 to 1939 Vice President and Director of Research

Hart Products Coporation

  • 1939 to 1945 Vice President and Director of Research

Dexter Chemical Corporation

  • 1945 to 1985 President
  • 1985 to 1989 Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer


Year(s) Award
1956 Honorary DSc degree, Lowell Technological Institute
1959 Fellow, Textile Institute (Great Britain)
1960 Fellow, Society of Dyers and Colourists (Great Britain)
1970 Honorary citizen of Biella and Venice, Italy
1987 Honorary PhD, Hebrew University

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PDF — 444 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