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Roald Hoffmann Nobel Prize in Chemistry Autographed Lecture


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Roald Hoffman, birth name Roald Safran, was born in Złoczów, Poland on July 18, 1937 into a Polish-Jewish family. Following the German invasion of Poland during the Second World War, Hoffmann's family was placed in a labor camp. After escaping the labor camp and spending eighteen months hiding in the attic of a Ukrainian neighbor from January 1943 to June 1944, Hoffmann and his mother moved to Krakow, where his mother remarried and adopted her new husband's surname. Hoffmann's biological father died in a labor camp for his involvement in a plot to arm his fellow prisoners.

Following the conclusion of the war, Hoffmann graduated from New York City's Stuyvesant High School in 1955. He then received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1958, followed by a Master of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1960. Subsequently Hoffmann went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Harvard while working with 1976 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner William N. Lipscomb, Jr. on the study of molecular orbital theory of polyhedral molecules. Under Lipscomb, Hoffmann co-directed the extended Hückel method. In 1965 Hoffman went to Cornell University where he has remained and has become professor emeritus.

Hoffmann's professional work has frequently revolved around the research of the electronic structure of stable and unstable molecules, as well as the study of transition states in reactions. Through the observation of organic and inorganic molecules, Hoffmann has contributed to the development of semiempirical and nonempirical computational tools and methods including the extended Hückel method used when determining molecular orbitals. Hoffmann also collaborated with American organic chemist Robert Burns Woodward in the development of the Woodward-Hoffmann rules for elucidating reaction mechanisms and their stereochemistry. This work eventually resulted in Hoffmann receiving the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Kenichi Fukui. In addition to his many contributions to science, Hoffmann is also a published author of several pieces of non-fiction, poetry, and plays.


Roald Hoffmann Nobel Prize in Chemistry Autographed Lecture, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Roald Hoffmann Nobel Prize in Chemistry Autographed Lecture includes an autographed copy of the lecture titled "Building Bridges Between Inorganic and Organic Chemistry" written by him at the awards ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden in December 1981. Also included is a letter from the Cornell University Department of Chemistry detailing the contents of the attached Nobel Lecture that is addressed to "Dear Colleague" and is signed "Earl."

The Roald Hoffmann Nobel Prize in Chemistry Autographed Lecture was found in the collection of the Science History Institute.

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Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Sean Cureton.
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