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Noyes, Arthur A. (Arthur Amos), 1866-1936



  • Existence: 1866 September 13 - 1936 June 3


Arthur Amos Noyes, 1866-1936, was an American chemist, inventor, and acting president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1907 to 1909 [1]. BS, Chemistry, MIT, 1886; MS, Chemistry, MIT, 1887; PhD, University of Leipzig, 1890

Noyes started his professorship of chemistry at MIT in 1887, immediately following the completion of his thesis on organic chemistry. In 1888, after a year of teaching, he relocated to Leipzig to study under Wilhelm Ostwald in the new field of physical chemistry [2]. In 1890, Noyes earned his doctorate of chemistry working in Ostwald's laboratory, and would soon return to the United States, resuming his teaching career at MIT. He would hold his position as professor of chemistry for the next 30 years, until 1920. During this time he'd publish several works discussing analytical, organic, and physical chemistry: Qualitative Analysis of Inorganic Substances (1895); Laboratory Experiments on the Class Reactions and Identification of Organic Substances (with S. P. Mulliken, 1899); and The General Principles of Physical Science (1902) [2].

Noyes founded the Research Laboratory of Physical Chemistry at MIT in 1903, later becoming the chairman of the MIT faculty in 1906. In 1907, after publishing an article opposing the MIT / Harvard merger, he would become acting President of the Institute until 1909. As President, Noyes was devoted to the idea that students should learn the principles of science by solving problems. His research interests focused on the nature of the solutions of electrolytes [1].

Noyes would direct his laboratory for 17 years until his departure in 1920, officially leaving MIT to direct the Gates Chemical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

In 1904, Noyes also became the youngest president of the American Chemical Society. Then, during the first World War, he served as chairman of the National Research Council in Washington, assisting the government across all scientific inquiry [2]. He later became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1927 [3].

Arthur Amos Noyes died on June 3rd, 1936. His estate was left to the California Institute of Technology for the support of research in chemistry [3].

1. "ARTHUR AMOS NOYES, 1866-1936" MIT LIbraries (October 2004) 2. Miles S. Sherrill, "Arthur Amos Noyes (1866-1936)" American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 74, No. 6 (November 1940) 3. Linus Pauling, "Arthur Amos Noyes 1866-1936" National Academy of Sciences (1958)


Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Arthur A. Noyes, Address to the Graduating Class of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1908

 File — Box 01-005: Series 1 [Barcode: 39080032202308]
Identifier: 1
Scope and Contents of the Collection From the Series:

Series 1, Student Life Items (items collected by or about students), documents the elements of student life that are separate from academic pursuits. The collection spans the years 1876 to 2013 and includes photographs, brochures, scrapbooks, and correspondence related to social activities, athletic pursuits, and a variety of campus events documenting MIT students engaging with each other and with the larger Boston and Cambridge communities.

Dates: 1908

Dugald C. Jackson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0005
Abstract The collection documents the career of Dugald C. Jackson, a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1907 to 1935. Correspondence, reports, and other materials document Jackson's years as head of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering, his innovations in the department and the undergraduate curriculum, the establishment of a cooperative education program (course 6-A), and his work on MIT committees. His work as a consulting engineer and inventor is...
Dates: 1878 - 1952

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0013
Abstract The collection documents the administration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the responsibilities and activities of the Institute's presidents between 1897 and 1930. This was a period of enormous growth and development of the Institute, which was chartered in 1861 and graduated its first class of undergraduates in 1868. There is correspondence about the proposed merger with Harvard University in 1904 and a proposed alliance in 1911. The purchase of land, the planning...
Dates: 1883 - 1941; Majority of material found within 1897 - 1931