Herzfeld, Karl F. (Karl Ferdinand), 1892-

Alternative names
Birth 1892-02-24
Death 1978-06-03
French, English, German

Biographical notes:

Died 1978.

From the description of Oral history interview with Karl F. Herzfeld, 1978 May 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77898623

From the description of Oral history interview with Karl F. Herzfeld, 1962 June 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78112200

Dr. Karl Ferdinand Herzfeld, 1892-1978, was a noted physicist, author, educator, and humanitarian. Born in Vienna, Austria, on February 24, 1892, he received his primary education from the Benedictines. He continued his education at the Universities of Vienna (Ph. D. 1914), Zurich, and Gottingen. During the First World War, Dr. Herzfeld served as a First Lieutenant of Artillery for the Austrian Army, and saw combat on the Italian and Russian fronts. After the war he returned to his academic career, taking the position of Privatdozent (loosely translated as junior faculty) and assistant professor at the University of Munich 1920-1926. In 1926, he accepted appointment as professor of physics at the Johns Hopkins University. He remained in that position until 1936, when he accepted appointment as professor of physics and Head of the department at The Catholic University of America. While at Catholic University, Herzfeld met his future wife, then Regina Flannery, who was studying anthropology under the esteemed John Montgomery Cooper (Dr. Regina Flannery Herzfeld would go on to her own distinguished career as an anthropologist). After a brief courtship, the two were married by Msgr. Cooper on June 9, 1938. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Dr. Herzfeld served as a consultant to the Naval Ordnance Laboratory to improve artillery shells. He continued his service to the Navy after the war by creating and chairing the Mine Advisory Committee, which studied the scientific issues of mine warfare for the Chief of Naval Research. In 1959 Dr. Herzfeld was named the area editor of physical sciences and mathematics for the New Catholic encyclopedia. He relinquished his chairmanship of the Department of Physics at Catholic University in 1961, and he retired from teaching in 1968. Dr. Herzfeld was named professor emeritus the following year, and remained active as a scholar and teacher. During his long career, he attained international recognition for significant contributions to the knowledge of physics and physical chemistry. Through his numerous books and scholarly journals, his outstanding work advanced the fields of ultrasonics, liquids and gases, chemical kinetics, and interior ballistics. The professional and academic community recognized Dr. Herzfeld's achievements with numerous awards. Dr. Herzfeld died following a stroke on Sunday, June 4, 1978 at the age of 86.

From the description of The Karl F. Herzfeld papers. 1886-1974. (Catholic University of America). WorldCat record id: 67153222

Physicist, (solid state physics). On the physics faculty at Universität München, 1920-1926; Johns Hopkins University, 1926-1936; and Catholic University, 1936-1961, department chair, 1936-1961.

From the description of Papers, 1914-1977. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80923386

Physicist (solid state physics). On the physics faculty at Universität München (1920-1926), Johns Hopkins University (1926-1936), and Catholic University (1935-1961), department chair (1936-1961).

From the description of Papers, 1941-1974. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77974031

From the description of Papers, 1951-1974. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122575303

Herzfeld died in 1978.

From the description of An illustrated history of the Herzfeld family, 1972. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78225781


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  • Solid state physics
  • Quantum theory
  • Physical sciences
  • Ultrasonic waves
  • Chemistry, Physical and theoretical--Research
  • Atomic theory
  • Science--History
  • Science--Philosophy
  • Genealogy
  • Statistical mechanics
  • Physics--Study and teaching
  • Religion and science
  • Statistical physics
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives--Austrian
  • Physics--Research
  • Universities and colleges--History
  • Jewish refugees
  • Nuclear physics


  • Physicists
  • Physicists--Interviews


  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)