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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 68.xx

Papers of Robert Burns Woodward, 1873-1980, 1930-1979

Overview

Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979), American chemist, Harvard professor, and 1965 Nobel Prize winner, is noted most for his work in organic synthesis.

Dates

  • 1873-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1979

Creator

Conditions on Access

Access restrictions apply to portions of this collection.

Extent

70.5 cubic feet (224 containers)

Biography of Robert Burns Woodward

Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979), American chemist, Harvard professor, and 1965 Nobel Prize winner, is noted most for his work in organic synthesis.

Woodward was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on April 10, 1917, the son of Arthur and Margaret Woodward. He received his elementary and high school education in Quincy public schools, and was graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1937 with both B.S. and Ph.D. degrees. In 1938 Woodward came to Harvard as private assistant to Professor E. P. Kohler and was soon thereafter appointed to the Society of Fellows. In 1941, he became an instructor in chemistry, progressing to an appointment as full professor in 1950. Woodward was appointed Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry in 1953, and held the Donner Professorship of Science from 1960 until his death on July 8, 1979.

The following chronology of his work was adapted from that provided by his daughter Crystal Woodward in Art and Elegance in the Synthesis of Organic Compounds: Robert Burns Woodward published in Creative Peogle at Work, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Professional Chronology of Robert Burns Woodward
  • 1934 Publishes first scientific paper
  • 1940-1942 Publishes four papers on rules for the correlation of ultraviolet spectroscopy with molecular structure; known as the Woodward Rules
  • 1942 Writes early paper on the Diels-Alder reaction
  • 1944 Completes synthesis of quinine
  • 1945-1956 Determines the structure of penicillin, patulin, strychnine, terramycin, aureomycin, and magnamycin
  • 1951 Synthesis of the steroids cholesterol and cortisone
  • 1954 Synthesis of strychnine and lysergic acid
  • 1956 Synthesis of reserpine
  • 1960 Completes synthesis of chlorophyll, which took four years
  • 1963 Begins work at the Woodward Research InstituteSynthesis of cephalosporin C
  • 1965-1969 Development of the laws of the conservation of orbital symmetry, with Roald Hoffman
  • 1972 Synthesis of vitamin B12 completed with A. Eschenmoser
Professional Chronology of Robert Burns Woodward
1934
Publishes first scientific paper
1940-1942
Publishes four papers on rules for the correlation of ultraviolet spectroscopy with molecular structure; known as the Woodward Rules
1942
Writes early paper on the Diels-Alder reaction
1944
Completes synthesis of quinine
1945-1956
Determines the structure of penicillin, patulin, strychnine, terramycin, aureomycin, and magnamycin
1951
Synthesis of the steroids cholesterol and cortisone
1954
Synthesis of strychnine and lysergic acid
1956
Synthesis of reserpine
1960
Completes synthesis of chlorophyll, which took four years
1963
Begins work at the Woodward Research Institute
Synthesis of cephalosporin C
1965-1969
Development of the laws of the conservation of orbital symmetry, with Roald Hoffman
1972
Synthesis of vitamin B12 completed with A. Eschenmoser

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. Biographical, Personal, and Family
  2. ___Biographical folder
  3. ___News clippings
  4. ______Scrapbooks of news clippings
  5. ______Loose news clippings
  6. ______Reprints
  7. ___Research Corporation Award
  8. ___Family papers
  9. ___Robert Burns Woodward personal
  10. ______Early personal correspondence
  11. ______Late personal correspondence
  12. ______Restricted personal papers
  13. ___Visitors' book from Woodward's office
  14. ___60th birthday celebration
  15. ___Photographs
  16. ______Photographic prints
  17. ______Photographic negatives
  18. ______ Large-format photographs
  19. ______ Transparencies and slides
  20. ______Unidentified slides
  21. ______Photograph albums
  22. ___Audio tapes
  23. ___Motion pictures
  24. Research
  25. ___Subject files
  26. ___Students and research fellows
  27. ___Papers written by Robert Burns Woodward
  28. Records of the Woodward Research Institute
  29. ___Subject files
  30. ___Personnel
  31. ___Research reports
  32. ___New substances
  33. Academia
  34. ___Early subject files
  35. ___Late subject files
  36. ___Department and university subject files
  37. ___Postdoctoral and graduate students

Acquisitions Information

  1. Accession 09610; received 3 December 1982 from Woodward Family
  2. Accession 10968; received 25 November 1986 from Eric Woodward
  3. Accession 13012; received 5 December 1984 from International Management

Online access

Two items from this collection have been digitized and are available online. Links to the online images accompany the item descriptions.

Related Materials

Collections in the Harvard University Archives:
  1. The Nobel legacy. Chemistry (HUGBW 653.80.40)
  2. The Nobel legacy, 1993 (HUGBW 653.83)

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 October 7.
Title
Woodward, R. B. (Robert Burns), 1917-1979. Papers of Robert Burns Woodward : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
Language of description
EN
EAD ID
hua06001

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
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