Van Name, Ralph Gibbs, 1877-1961

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Josiah Willard Gibbs, mathematician and physicist, was born in New Haven on February 11, 1839, the son of Josiah Willard Gibbs, professor of sacred literature at Yale, and Mary Anna Van Cleve. He received a B.A. from Yale in 1858, an M.A. in 1861, and a Ph.D. in 1863. After serving as tutor in Latin (1863-65) and natural philosophy (1865-66), Gibbs went to Europe to study for three years. He returned to New Haven in 1869 and was appointed professor of mathematical physics at Yale in 1871, a position he held until his death.

Best known for developing the theory of thermodynamics, Gibbs wrote a number of extremely important and influential scientific works, the most significant being "Graphical Methods in the Thermodynamics of Fluids" (1873), "A Method of Geometrical Representation of the Thermodynamic Properties of Substances by Means of Surfaces" (1873), "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances" (1876, 1878), "Electrochemical Thermodynamics" (1886, 1888), and Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics (1902).

He lived at the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Julia Gibbs and Addison Van Name, and died unmarried in New Haven on April 28, 1903.

For additional biographical information, see the Dictionary of American Biography, IV, pp. 248-51; Muriel Rukeyser, Willard Gibbs (1942), and Lynde Phelps Wheeler, Josiah Willard Gibbs, the History of a Great Mind (1951).

Ralph Gibbs Van Name was born in New Haven on October 22, 1877. The son of Addison and Julia Gibbs Van Name and nephew of Josiah Willard Gibbs, he was educated at Yale, receiving a B.A. in 1899 and a Ph.D. in 1902. Van Name was an instructor at Yale 1904-09, assistant professor 1909-24, associate professor of physical chemistry 1924-36, research associate in chemistry 1936-44, and research associate emeritus until his death on January 4, 1961. On June 25, 1925 he married Josephine Earl; the couple had two children, John Addison and Virginia Gibbs Van Name.

While serving on the Yale faculty, Van Name devoted much attention to memorializing the life and work of his uncle Josiah Willard Gibbs. He helped edit The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs (1906) and through the Gibbs Memorial Fund assisted in the publication of The Collected Works of J. Willard Gibbs (1928) and A Commentary on the Scientific Writings of J. Willard Gibbs (1936). He also provided assistance to biographers Muriel Rukeyser and Lynde Phelps Wheeler.

From the guide to the Gibbs-Van Name papers, 1843-1959 (inclusive), 1929-1957, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Gibbs-Van Name papers, 1843-1959 (inclusive), 1929-1957 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Van Name, Ralph Gibbs, 1877-. [Miscellaneous pamphlets]. Yale University Library
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associatedWith Angell, James Rowland, 1869-1949 person
associatedWith Day, George Parmly, 1876-1959 person
associatedWith Donnan, F. G. (Frederick George), 1870-1956 person
associatedWith Epstein, P. (Paul), b. 1871 person
associatedWith Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947 person
associatedWith Gibbs family. family
associatedWith Gibbs, J. Willard (Josiah Willard), 1839-1903 person
associatedWith Haas, Arthur Eric, 1884-1941 person
associatedWith Hewlett, G. A. person
associatedWith Johnston, John, 1881- person
associatedWith Morey, G. W. (George Washington), 1888-1965 person
associatedWith Pearson, Norman Holmes, 1909-1975 person
associatedWith Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980 person
associatedWith Swann, W. F. G. (William Francis Gray), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Van Namee family. family
associatedWith Van Name, Theodora. person
associatedWith Van Name, Willard Gibbs, 1872- person
associatedWith Wheeler, Lynde Phelps, 1874-1959 person
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University Press. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Authors, American
Biography
Publishers and Publishing
Occupation
Biographers--United States
Scientists--United States
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Birth 1877

Death 1961

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