Woodward, R. B. (Robert Burns), 1917-1979

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Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979) joined the Chemistry Department at Harvard University in 1938. He was appointed Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry in 1958 and held the Donner Professorship of Science from 1960 until his death. Woodward was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in organic chemistry.

From the description of Papers of Robert Burns Woodward, 1873-1980 (inclusive), 1930-1979 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973225

Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979), American chemist, Harvard professor, and 1965 Nobel Prize winner, is noted most for his work in organic synthesis.

Woodward was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on April 10, 1917, the son of Arthur and Margaret Woodward. He received his elementary and high school education in Quincy public schools, and was graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1937 with both B.S. and Ph.D. degrees. In 1938 Woodward came to Harvard as private assistant to Professor E. P. Kohler and was soon thereafter appointed to the Society of Fellows. In 1941, he became an instructor in chemistry, progressing to an appointment as full professor in 1950. Woodward was appointed Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry in 1953, and held the Donner Professorship of Science from 1960 until his death on July 8, 1979.

The following chronology of his work was adapted from that provided by his daughter Crystal Woodward in Art and Elegance in the Synthesis of Organic Compounds: Robert Burns Woodward published in Creative Peogle at Work , Oxford University Press, 1989.

  • 1934: Publishes first scientific paper
  • 1940 - 1942 : Publishes four papers on rules for the correlation of ultraviolet spectroscopy with molecular structure; known as the Woodward Rules
  • 1942: Writes early paper on the Diels-Alder reaction
  • 1944: Completes synthesis of quinine
  • 1945 - 1956 : Determines the structure of penicillin, patulin, strychnine, terramycin, aureomycin, and magnamycin
  • 1951: Synthesis of the steroids cholesterol and cortisone
  • 1954: Synthesis of strychnine and lysergic acid
  • 1956: Synthesis of reserpine
  • 1960: Completes synthesis of chlorophyll, which took four years
  • 1963: Begins work at the Woodward Research Institute Synthesis of cephalosporin C
  • 1965 - 1969 : Development of the laws of the conservation of orbital symmetry, with Roald Hoffman
  • 1972: Synthesis of vitamin B12 completed with A. Eschenmoser

From the guide to the Papers of Robert Burns Woodward, 1873-1980, 1930-1979, (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Papers, 1918-1993 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Woodward, R. B. (Robert Burns), 1917-1979. Autograph signature. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Simon, Myron S. (Sydney), 1926-. Myron S. Simon Notebooks 194? Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn International Symposium on the Chemistry of Natural Products (3rd : 1964 : Kyoto, Japan). International Symposium on the Chemistry of Natural Products motion picture : [Robert Burns Woodward speaking?], 1964 Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Indenture for lease of land for What Cheer House signed by Joseph L. Folsom and Robert B. Woodward, 1854 May 14. California State Library
referencedIn Donohue, Jerry, 1920-. Papers, 1941-1985. University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
referencedIn The Nobel legacy, 1993. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Eschenmoser, Albert,. Oral history interview with Albert Eschenmoser 1985 October 7 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
creatorOf American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society sound recording Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Papers of Robert Burns Woodward, 1873-1980, 1930-1979 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Blout, E. R. (Elkan Rogers), 1919-2006,. Oral history interview with Elkan Blout, 1991 May 30 , 2002 September 13 and November 22 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
creatorOf Woodward, R. B. (Robert Burns), 1917-1979. Papers of Robert Burns Woodward, 1873-1980 (inclusive), 1930-1979 (bulk). Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Berson, Jerome A. Oral history interview with Jerome A. Berson, 2001 March 21 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn California. Superior Court (San Francisco City and County). R.B. Woodward, et al, vs. Mary C. Raum. Statement of motion for a new trial, 1891. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Brownschweige meeting motion picture Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Meyerson, Seymour. The Papers of Seymour Meyerson, 1944-1999 (bulk 1955-1975) Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
creatorOf Corse, Joseph W. The Papers of Joseph W. Corse, 1944 - 1949 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn Doering, W. von E. (William Von Eggers), 1917-. Oral history interview with William von Eggers Doering 1990 November 9 and 1991 May 29 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn Simon, Myron S. (Sydney) 1926-. The Papers of Myron S. Simon, 1941-1990 (bulk 1958-1988) Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn Knowles, William S. Oral history interview with William S. Knowles 2008 January 30 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn Breslow, Ronald,. Oral history interview with Ronald C. Breslow 1999 March 19 and April 9. Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn Seeman, Jeffrey I. Collection of Jeffrey I. Seeman, 1944-1961. Harvard University, Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Alfred Eisenstadt person
associatedWith Berson, Jerome A. person
associatedWith Blout, E. R. (Elkan Rogers), 1919-2006, person
associatedWith Breslow, Ronald, person
associatedWith California. Superior Court (San Francisco City and County) corporateBody
associatedWith Copernicus, Nicolaus, 1473-1543. person
associatedWith Corse, Joseph W. person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Doering, W. von E. (William Von Eggers), 1917- person
associatedWith Donohue, Jerry, 1920- person
associatedWith Eschenmoser, Albert, person
associatedWith G. Singh person
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Dept. of Chemistry. corporateBody
associatedWith International Symposium on the Chemistry of Natural Products 1964 : Kyoto, Japan) corporateBody
associatedWith International Symposium on the Chemistry of Natural Products (3rd : 1964 : Kyoto, Japan) corporateBody
associatedWith Knowles, William S. person
associatedWith Meyerson, Seymour person
associatedWith Office of Scientific Research and Development corporateBody
associatedWith Paul A. Freund person
associatedWith Seeman, Jeffrey I. person
associatedWith Shell Development Company corporateBody
associatedWith Simon, Myron S. (Sydney), 1926- person
associatedWith T. Singh person
associatedWith Winthrop Chemical Company corporateBody
associatedWith Woodward Research Institute (Basel, Switzerland) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Subject
Chemistry, organic--Research
Vitamin B12--Motion pictures
Chemistry, organic--Study and teaching (Higher)
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1917-04-10

Death 1979-07-08

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