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.