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James M. Church Notebooks


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

James M. Church (1903-1979) was an American chemical engineer. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1903, Church earned his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College (1925), then served as a teaching fellow at Harvard University's Chemistry Department. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1933. After receiving his doctorate, Church taught at Allegheny College and the Drexel Institute of Technology. For a time, he also worked as a chemist and development engineer with Monsanto Chemical Company.

In 1939, Church joined the faculty of Columbia University's Department of Chemical Engineering, where he enjoyed a noteworthy thirty-two-year career. At Columbia, he was a recognized expert on fire-resistant treatments for textiles and an advocate for flame-resistant clothing. During the 1950s, Church developed the "Columbia Test" for testing the flammability of fabrics. He was also an authority on plastics and was the co-author of Concise Guide to Plastics (1953) and the Encyclopedia of Basic Materials for Plastics (1957).

In addition to his faculty duties, during World War II, Church served as director of a United States Army Quartermasters project at Columbia that developed Thermo-Cast, a lightweight material used for making aircraft parts. He also served as Chairman of the American Chemical Society's Division of Colloid Chemistry.

James M. Church passed away on August 1, 1979.


"Dr. James M. Church, An Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Is Dead." New York Times, August 5, 1979.

James M. Church Notebooks, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The James M. Church Notebooks contain two notebooks prepared by American chemical engineer James M. Church. Church prepared these notebooks in 1927 while serving as a teaching fellow at Harvard University's Chemistry Department. The notebooks were created for Chemistry 17 - Advanced Organic Chemistry, a class taught at Harvard by American organic chemist and inventor of nylon Wallace H. Carothers. The notebooks contain Church's lecture and class notes.

The James M. Church Notebooks were donated to the Science History Institute by Thomas Church in October 2019.

The James M. Church Notebooks were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in October 2021.

Science History Institute Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Finding Aid Date
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 copyright to the James M. Church Notebooks. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Collection Inventory

Notebook - Chemistry 17 - Advanced Organic - Dr. Carothers, 1927.
Box 1 Volume 1
Notebook - Chemistry 17 - Organic - Volume II - Lectures of Dr. W.H. Carothers, 1927.
Box 1 Volume 2

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