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John C. Sheehan papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0424

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Sheehan's work on synthetic penicillin is documented in laboratory notebooks, graphs of spectral analyses, and in his book The Enchanted Ring: The Untold Story of Penicillin (1982). His research is also described in copies of journal articles, talks he gave between 1952 and 1989, and patent files. The collection includes a biography of Sheehan, correspondence with pharmaceutical companies he consulted for, correspondence with colleagues and professional organizations, and correspondence with his students.


  • Creation: 1956 - 1989


Access note

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


John Clark Sheehan, 1915-1992, BS 1932, Battle Creek College; PhD in organic chemistry, 1941, University of Michigan, came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946 as assistant professor of chemistry. He became associate professor in 1949, professor of organic chemistry in 1952, and professor emeritus and senior lecturer in 1977. He was a scientific advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961 through 1965 and served on a number of presidential advisory committees. His work on penicillin chemistry culminated in the invention of synthetic penicillin in 1957. He also did research on the synthesis of beta-lactams, amino acids, peptides, alkaloids, and steroids, and in 1941 helped develop the large-scale method for manufacturing the high explosive RDX (Cyclonite).


68 Cubic Feet (68 record cartons)

Language of Materials



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Processing Information note

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Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of John C. Sheehan
Ready For Review
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

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