Guide to the Lucius A. Bigelow Papers, 1915-1973
Lucius A. Bigelow (1892-1973) served as a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Duke University from 1929 to 1961. Papers of Lucius A. Bigelow include correspondence, class examinations and procedures, research papers, research status reports, and photographs during his career as a professor of chemistry at Brown University and Duke University. Major subjects within the papers are fluorine chemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry education, and research conducted for the Manhattan Project, the Office of Naval Research, and the Army Research Office. Professional correspondents include H. S. Booth, Henry Gilman, and William A. Noyes. English.
- Record Group
- Lucius A. Bigelow papers
- Bigelow, Lucius A., b. 1892
- 2 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Records produced by Lucius A. Bigelow throughout his career as a professor of chemistry both at Brown University and Duke University. Materials are present from 1915 to 1973. The bulk of the records consist of correspondence, class examinations and procedures, research papers, research status reports, and photographs. The majority of the material pertains to Bigelow's time at Duke University however, there is some material stemming from his tenure at Brown University.
Access to the Collection
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
For a period of twenty-five years from the origin of the material, permission in writing from the office of origin and the University Archivist is required for use. After twenty-five years, records that have been processed may be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.
In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Lucius A. Bigelow Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
This series consists of material relating to the personal life of Lucius A. Bigelow and includes biographical information, correspondence, and photographs. The correspondence contains letters to both Lucius and his wife Mary, discussing family and health matters. These include an interesting letter to Mary from her sister, regarding missionary work in South Africa as well as a Woman's Christian Temperance Union speaking tour through local schools extolling the "Value of Raisins". The photograph album in this series is of particular interest. It contains photos of chemistry faculty from both Brown and Duke universities during the 1920's, including Paul Gross, J. H. Saylor, and C. H. Hauser. It also has several interesting photos of the campus and Durham, including the construction of the chemistry building. The photographs folder contains photographic portraits of Dr. Bigelow. This series also includes a short memoir by Bigelow entitled Memorable Things Happening to a University and College Teacher of Organic Chemistry in the Course of a Lifetime. The memoir is professional in nature, relating lessons both taught and learned during his over forty years as a teacher.
The correspondence consists chiefly of letters relating to students and about their research work, letters of recommendation, letters to colleagues in academe and industry, and letters regarding the publishing of scholarly papers. Bigelow's role as mentor and teacher and his relationships with his graduate students are particularly well revealed throughout the course of this correspondence. He was tireless in his work to secure good jobs for his graduates. Of particular note are letters describing two explosions that happened in the chemistry laboratories, one in 1931 and another in 1954. Another interesting series of letters describes Bigelow's attempts to aid one of his graduate students, who happened to be Japanese, right on the eve and in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Names of his professional correspondents include chemists such as Henry Gilman, William A. Noyes, H. S. Booth, and Arthur Lamb. These letters are chiefly regarding research questions relating to his work with fluorine.
This series contains material related to the Department of Chemistry at Duke. It includes student papers, quizzes and examinations, some syllabi, and lab procedures for classes taught by Bigelow. The bulk of the course material relates to Chemistry 151 and 152. The research council material details grants given to Bigelow for research and assistants. Finally, this series contains an article written for the Journal of Chemical Education by Bigelow, Warren Vosburgh, and John Saylor entitled "Chemical Education in American Institutions-Duke University." It is an excellent source for the early history of the department.
This series and subseries contain papers and reports regarding Dr. Bigelow's research in organic chemistry. The earliest work is his thesis from MIT, whereas the majority of the articles and papers document his continuing series of papers on "The Action of Elementary Fluorine Upon Organic Compounds." Most of the papers are co-written with his doctoral students. The series also contains his entry on fluorine for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The subseries contains correspondence and status reports to the Office of Naval Research and Army Research Office (Office of Ordnance Research) where Bigelow was under contract to conduct fundamental research in organic fluorine chemistry. The status reports detail the lab experiments and results of research conducted by Bigelow and his doctoral students.
Lucius Aurelius Bigelow was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 31, 1892 to Lucius Aurelius and Mary Elizabeth Bigelow. He graduated from Boston English High and from there went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his S.B. in 1915. He attended Harvard from 1916 to 1917 and then went to Yale as a Howard Fellow from 1918 to 1919, leaving with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. He began his teaching career at St. Lawrence University but only stayed a short time until moving to Brown University, where he taught for nine years. In 1929 Bigelow came to Duke University where he served as a member of the chemistry department faculty until 1961. Bigelow's primary field of research was fluorine chemistry and the direct fluorination of organic compounds. His research provided the foundations for the preparation of fluorocarbons by direct fluorination carried out during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. After retiring from active teaching at Duke, he continued his research work at Hynes Chemical Research, a firm started by several of his former graduate students. In 1958 he was the recipient of the Herty Medal by the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society, recognizing him as an outstanding Southern chemist. Lucius Bigelow married Mary Louise Cummings of Warren, Massacusetts, in 1932 and the couple had two children, Mary Elizabeth Bigelow (later Mary Johnson), born 1938, and Lucius C. Bigelow, born 1939. Mary Cummings Bigelow died in February, 1972, and Lucius A. Bigelow died December 11, 1973.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Booth, Harold Simmons, b. 1891
- Bigelow, Lucius Aurelius, b. 1892
- Brown University -- Faculty
- Duke University -- Faculty
- Duke University. Department of Chemistry
- Gilman, Henry, 1893-
- Noyes, William A. (William Albert), 1857-1941
- United States. Army Research Office
- United States. Office of Naval Research
This collection consists of material acquired in accession number 74-197 on January 18, 1974.
Processed by Sarah G. Carr
Completed April, 2000
Encoded by Joshua McKim, December 2002