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Oral history interview with Henry Earl Lumpkin

  • 1992-Jan-02

Oral history interview with Henry Earl Lumpkin

  • 1992-Jan-02

Henry Earl Lumpkin begins the interview by discussing his family background and how he learned to value education. His family had a tradition of attending Southwestern Texas State University and becoming school teachers. Watching his father's career persuaded him not to be a teacher and Lumpkin decided to major in chemistry and minor in physics and mathematics at Southwestern Texas State University. After graduating in three and a half years, Lumpkin joined the US Army Air Corps. In the Air Corps, he took graduate classes in meteorology at the University of California at Los Angeles. During World War II, Lumpkin was promoted to a captain and served as a Base Weather Officer.

After the Air Corps, he went to work for Humble Oil and Refining Company as a mass spectrometrist. He then describes the state of instrumentation during his career at Humble and the innovations that were being made in that field. Lumpkin speaks highly of Humble's professional development program. Humble Lectures in Science Series allowed employees to take time away from work and attend classes taught by esteemed professors. Lumpkin also talks about the freedom he was given by the company's administration when submitting publications to research journals. He feels that the company's encouraging attitude towards scientific pursuit was very important. Along with his many achievements in the development of mass spectrometry, Lumpkin also played key roles in the American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM] and the American Society for Mass Spectrometry [ASMS]. He was chairman of ASTM E-14 and Vice President of ASMS. Lumpkin ends the interview with thoughts on his colleagues and the future of mass spectroscopy.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 46 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

Michael A. Grayson is a member of the Mass Spectrometry Research Resource at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his BS degree in physics from St. Louis University in 1963 and his MS in physics from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1965. He is the author of over 45 papers in the scientific literature. Before joining the Research Resource, he was a staff scientist at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratory. While completing his undergraduate and graduate education, he worked at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, where he learned the art and science of mass spectrometry. Grayson is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), and has served many different positions within that organization. He has served on the Board of Trustees of CHF and is currently a member of CHF's Heritage Council. He currently pursues his interest in the history of mass spectrometry by recording oral histories, assisting in the collection of papers, and researching the early history of the field.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0194

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • March 01, 1920
  • Ingram, Texas, United States
  • July 05, 2012
  • Round Rock, Texas, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1941 Southwest Texas State University BS Chemistry
1942 University of California, Los Angeles Meteorology
2016 University of Chicago Institute of Tropical Meteorology (University of Chicago San Juan, Puerto Rico, Campus)

Professional Experience

United States. Air Force

  • 1942 to 1943 Second Lieutenant
  • 1943 to 1944 First Lieutenant
  • 1944 to 1945 Captain

Humble Oil and Refining Company (Incorporated in Tex.)

  • 1945 to 1948 Physicist in Research and Development
  • 1948 to 1960 Research Chemist
  • 1960 to 1963 Senior Research Chemist
  • 1963 to 1965 Research Specialist

Esso Research and Engineering Company

  • 1965 to 1968 Senior Research Specialist

Exxon Research and Engineering Company

  • 1969 to 1980 Research Associate


Year(s) Award
1938 Freshman scholarship, Southwest Texas University
1963 Secretary and Treasurer, ASTM E-14
1964 Director of Analytical Group, American Chemical Society, Southeast Texas Section
1967 Principle Speaker on Mass Spectrometry, Seventh World Petroleum Conference
1972 Chairman, ASTM E-14
1972 Vice President, Data and Standards, ASMS
1982 Organizer and first President, Young at Heart Round Rock Social
1985 President, Cedar Park Chapter, American Association for Retired Persons

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PDF — 413 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

3 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads