Harris, Milton, 1906-1991

Alternative names
Birth 1906-03-21
Death 1991-09-12

Biographical notes:

Milton Harris was born in Los Angeles, California in 1906. He received his bachelor of science degree from Oregon Agricultural College in 1926 in chemical engineering and his doctorate in chemistry from Yale in 1929. An innovator, inventor, and a leader in textile fiber utilization, he developed shrink-proof wool, permanent press treatment of wool, and wrinkle-resistant cotton finishing. He revolutionized the razor blade shaving industry during his long association with Gillette. Milton Harris received top honors from many professional societies for his work in applied science and was energetic in corporate and university advisory groups throughout his career. In 1931, Harris, along with colleagues, formed an institute for the study of textiles at the National Bureau of Standards. Ultimately, their work resulted in fibers that were water-repellent, flameproof, and rot proof. His work ultimately led to the development of synthetic polymers such as nylon, polyester, and plastics. This research was vital during during World War II when Harris was asked to work with the U.S. Army Quartermaster General office to develop textiles for use by soldiers. In 1945, Harris founded his own research laboratory, which later became a subsidiary of the Gillette Company. He was director of research and vice president of Gillette from 1956 until his retirement in 1966. He then devoted his energies to the American Chemical Society, of which he served as chairman for five years, and to a host of other scientific organizations and government advisory groups. He was the holder of 35 patents and the recipient of several medals in the field of chemistry, including the Harold DeWitt Smith Memorial Medal (1966), the Perkin Medal Award (1970), and the Priestly Medal in 1980. He established the first endowed chair, the Milton Harris Chair in Polymer Chemistry, at Oregon State University, his alma mater, in 1984. Milton Harris died in 1991.

From the description of Milton Harris papers, 1925-1987. (Eugene Public Library). WorldCat record id: 50587911

From the guide to the Milton Harris Papers, 1925-1996, (Oregon State University The Valley Library, Special Collections)


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  • Military
  • Textile chemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Polymers
  • Synthetic products
  • Science


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