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Ira Remsen papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0039
Ira Remsen, American chemist, educator and second President of Johns Hopkins University was born in New York City on February 10, 1846. The collection spans the years 1868 - 1938. The material consists of correspondence, speeches, publications, lectures and lecture notes, notebooks, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, reprints, books annotated by Remsen, and memorabilia.

Dates

  • 1846 - 1927

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Extent

9.53 Cubic Feet (1 letter size document box, 17 legal size document boxes, 2 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches), 3 pamphlet boxes (7.25 x 4 x 10 inches), 1 over-sized folder)

Biographical Note

Ira Remsen, American chemist, educator and second President of Johns Hopkins University was born in New York City on February 10, 1846, the son of Rosanna Secor and James Vanderbilt Remsen. At the age of 14 Ira Remsen became a freshman at the New York Free Academy (later the College of the City of New York). However, before the completion of his college course Remsen's father decided that his son should enter the medical profession. Ira Remsen was removed from college and placed under the tutelage of a practicing physician. He later received the degree of A.B. nunc pro tunc from the College of the City of New York. He enrolled as a student in the College of Physicians and Surgeons and in 1867 he graduated with honors as a Doctor of Medicine. He then became apprenticed to a physician in New York City and for about a year was actively engaged in the practice of medicine. By 1868, however, Remsen decided to abandon his medical career and devote himself to the serious study of chemistry. He went to Germany and commenced work at the University of Munich in the autumn of that year under the laboratory instruction of Jacob Volhard and attending the lectures of Justus von Liebig. The following year Remsen went to Gottingen to work under Rudolf Fittig, and he received his Ph.D. degree in 1870.

Remsen returned to the United states in 1872, and after some delay took up the post of Professor of Physics and Chemistry at Williams College. He remained at Williams for four years during which he published 9 papers on the results of original investigations and a book on theoretical chemistry which became one of the leading textbooks of the day. In 1876 Remsen was offered and accepted the chair of chemistry at the newly established Johns Hopkins University, and in 1877 he delivered his first lecture on advanced organic chemistry.

In 1879 Remsen established the American Chemical Journal of which he remained editor until 1915. Remsen's numerous published works include: The Principles of Theoretic Chemistry (1876); Organic Chemistry (1885); Introduction to the study of Chemistry (1887); Elements of Chemistry (1888); A Laboratory Manual (1889); Chemical Experiments (1895); Inorganic Chemistry (1898); The University Movement (1915).

In 1881 Remsen was called upon for advice on major problems in the Boston water supply. After the Baltimore fire in 1904 he was the most important member of a commission to design a new system of sewage disposal for the city. In 1909 he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt the Chairman of a Board commissioned to study administration of the Pure Food Law. Remsen found distasteful all the publicity and the political and commercial influences connected with this work.

While Daniel Coit Gilman was absent in Europe from 1889 - 1890, Ira Remsen served as Acting President of Johns Hopkins University. When Gilman retired in 1901 Remsen was chosen as his successor. Remsen's administration was a period of steady progress against difficulties and marked the founding of the School of Engineering and the removal of the University to the Homewood site. Remsen retired from Johns Hopkins University in 1913. Ira Remsen died in Carmel, California on March 4, 1927.

Scope and Contents

The collection spans the years 1868 - 1938. The material consists of correspondence, speeches, publications, lectures and lecture notes, notebooks, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, reprints, books annotated by Remsen, and memorabilia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Following Ira Remsen's death in 1927, his papers were acquired gradually by Johns Hopkins University over a period of years. In September 1931 the Chemistry Alumni of Johns Hopkins University established the Remsen Memorial Collection with addresses, reports, articles, recollections and reminiscences. A considerable quantity of material was collected which was at first lodged in the Library of the Chemistry Department at Johns Hopkins University, before it eventually came to the Eisenhower Library. The Collection was catalogued in about 1950 and consists of approximately 4,000 items of correspondence, speeches, lectures, publications, notes, notebooks, ledgers, photographs, newspaper clippings, annotated books, and memorabilia.

Related Materials

Additional materials related to Ira Remson are available in the Edward Renouf letters about Ira Remsen, MS.0839, Special Collections.

Processing Information

This is no known processing information for this collection. Series 1 was revised and corrected in March 2019 by Ye Ji Choi.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA