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Department of Chemistry records

Identifier: 572, 915; 916; 917

Scope and Content

The collection consists of administrative correspondence and memos, committee minutes, histories, departmental publications, curriculum and teaching materials, research and grant reports, conference proceedings, sponsored lectures, budgets, and purchase ledgers. Inclusive dates are 1880-1991: bulk dates are 1894-1949. The collection provides extensive documentation of the beginnings of the School of Chemistry, its faculty, facilities, students, finances and administrative organization. A large collection of correspondence of Dr. Samuel C. Lind, director of the school of chemistry and dean of the Institute of Technology, is also included in the collection in the Historical series. Of note is the correspondence regarding radium research, on which Dr. Lind was an expert.

Much of the collection consists of administrative materials concerning the year-to-year administration of the school under Dr. Lind during the 1940s. Users of the collection will find a well-documented overview of how the school functioned in the years prior to re-organization in 1949. Consult the Committee Minutes, Curriculum and Research and Reports subseries for additional content reflecting the period under Lind and George Frankforter.

The collection has been intellectually reorganized to allow for easier access to to the contents by material types and broad subject catagories. The arrangement consists of the following series: Administration; Committee Minutes; Conferences and Lectures; Correspondence; Curriculum; Historical Files; Organizations; Papers and Publications; Research and Reports; and Miscellaneous Subject Files.


  • Creation: 1880-1991


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. A single file has been identified as restricted. Please confer with the University Archivist regarding this material.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

Chemistry was first taught at the University of Minnesota when Edward Twining, a member of the first University faculty, was appointed professor of chemistry and French in 1869 in the Preparatory Department. Additional chemistry faculty were added when James Dodge was appointed professor of chemistry in 1880 and George B. Frankforter in 1893.

The first four year course of study in chemistry was offered in 1891 when the College of Engineering, Metallurgy and the Mechanical Arts was established. Dr. Frankforter was named director of the laboratory in 1895.

The School of Chemistry was established in 1896 as a source of instruction in technical and applied chemistry, with a single course in analytical chemistry taught within the College of Science, Literature and the Arts. In 1903, the School was made an independent unit with George B. Frankforter as dean.

Frankforter remained dean until 1917. He was succeeded by Laudner Jones (1918-1920). Ora M. Leland became dean in 1920 and remained as head of the School of Chemistry and the College of Engineering and Architecture until 1935. Under Leland, the position of director of the school was created, and Samuel Lind was appointed as Director of Chemistry in 1926.

During Leland's tenure as dean, the school split into divisions representing various branchs of chemistry study and research, including Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organixc Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry.

In 1935, the Institute of Technology was established, comprised of the College of Engineering and Architecture, the School of Chemistry and the School of Mines and Metallurgy. Lind left as director of chemistry in 1935 to become dean of the Institute of Technology, where he served he served until 1947.

In 1949, the School of Chemistry was reorganized. Two departments within the school were established, the department of chemistry including the divisions of analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, and the department of chemical engineering. Lloyd H. Reyerson, former dean of the Institute of Technology (1945-1954) was the first chair of the department of chemistry. Reyerson was succeeded by Richard Arnold (1953-1955), Bryce Crawford (1955-1960), Stuart Fenton (1960-1966), Robert Hexter (1968-1975), and Paul Gassman (1975-1979, Harold Swofford (1981-1983), Larry Miller (1983-1985), and W. Ross Gentry (1986-1998).

The School of Chemistry was originally located in the Laboratory of Chemistry and Physics. In 1902, the building was dedicated exclusively to chemistry and later called Nicholson Hall. In 1914, a new chemistry building was built and in 1971 it was renamed Smith Hall for Lee I. Smith who served as chair of the Division of Organic Chemistry from 1932-1958.

A chemistry annex was built next to Smith Hall in 1971 and named Kolthoff Hall in honor of Isaac M. Kolthoff, chair of the Division of Analytical Chemistry from 1930-1962.


31.25 Cubic Feet (25 boxes)


Collection contains records of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota.

Other Finding Aid Available

A finding aid with a contents list is available in University Archives.

Source of acquisition

The collection was transferred to University Archives in multiple deposits between 1951-1997.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

James Gray papers

Isaac M. Kolthoff papers

University of Minnesota. Board of Regents papers

University of Minnesota. Comptroller papers

University of Minnesota. Dept. of Inorganic Chemistry papers


Department of Chemistry records, 1880-1991
Karen Klinkenberg; updated by Susan Hoffman
July 2005, April 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area