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Papers of Paul D. Bartlett


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

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Paul D. Bartlett was an American physical-organic chemist. Bartlett was born on August 14, 1907, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended Amherst College and was a devoted member of The Class of 1928. Bartlett began his studies toward a doctoral degree at Harvard University, working under James Bryant Conant, and received his master's degree in 1929. In 1931 Bartlett received his Ph.D. and became a National Research Fellow. The following year Bartlett began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota. By 1934 Bartlett had returned to Harvard as an instructor in Chemistry, where he eventually became a full professor in 1946. As a physical-organic chemist, Paul D. Bartlett conducted original work in several areas, including bridgehead halogens (1939), the hydrogen-halide exchange reaction (1944), and free radical chemistry. As an educator, his Harvard courses on organic reaction mechanisms were the first to stress studying the reactions themselves rather than mere memorization of facts. This teaching method went on to become the worldwide accepted standard. Bartlett worked with professional organizations like the Gordon Research Conferences, where he helped initiate the long-running series of Conferences on Reaction Mechanisms, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). At Harvard University, he championed academic freedom and was an early opponent of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. Bartlett remained at Harvard until his retirement from the university in 1972. He then moved to Fort Worth, Texas to accept a Welch Professorship at Texas Christian University (TCU). In 1982 Bartlett was the recipient of the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry. In 1985 he fully retired and stepped down from the TCU's Welch Chair of Chemistry.

Bartlett remained in touch with his former students. The "Red Book," a memory book compiled by his Harvard students, was a prized possession. In 1997, Bartlett students worldwide honored their former professor with well-wishes on his 90th birthday. Paul D. Bartlett died of natural causes in Lexington, Massachusetts, on October 11, 1997.


Papers of Paul D. Bartlett, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett contain the professional and personal papers of American physical-organic chemist Paul D. Bartlett. The collection is arranged into the following six series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Lectures
  3. Reprints
  4. Reports
  5. Notebooks
  6. Personal Items

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Sarah W. Bartlett in five accretions: 1991, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2015.

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett were processed by Stephanie Morris in August 1991. The finding aid was revised by Andrew Mangravite on September 22, 2009, and Patrick Burden on March 28, 2022.

Science History Institute Archives
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Finding aid prepared by Stephanie Morris, revised by Andrew Mangravite, and encoded into EAD by Patrick Burden
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Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Use Restrictions

The Science History Institute holds the copyright to the Papers of Paul D. Bartlett. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

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