Frank, Robert

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Adolph (or Adolf) Frank (1834-1916) was an important chemist of nineteenth-century Germany. Born in 1834 in Kloette, he began his career as an apothecary's apprentice and received his license in 1857; afterwards he studied chemistry at the University of Berlin. He then obtained a position as a chemist with a beet sugar refinery and used the results of his work there as a basis for his dissertation, which was accepted at the University of Goettingen in 1872.

In the late 1860s, Frank played a leading role in the development of potash deposits and their application as an agricultural fertilizer in Strassfurt, Germany. He remained interested in the problems of German agriculture, especially its chemical aspects, for the rest of his life. In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Frank ran a glass factory in Charlottenburg, which he sold in 1882.

Together with his co-worker Nikodem Caro, Frank invented a process for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen in 1895. This process, related to modern cyanamid manufacture, attracted interest in industrial circles, and with the backing of Deutsche Bank, Siemens & Halske, and Deutsche Gold und Silber Scheideanstalt . The Cyanid Gesellschaft was founded in 1899 to exploit the process. At first the company was not commercially successful. It was only during and after World War I that the process was sufficiently refined to become profitable.

For many years Frank was on the Board of Directors of the Charlottenburg Municipal Gas Works and of the Vereinigte Chemische Werke . He received many awards, including an honorary professorship from the Technische Universitaet Dresden and the title of Geheimer Regierungsrat.

Albert Frank (1872-1965) was the son of Adolph and Meta (née Warburg) Frank. Like his father, Albert Frank became a chemist. From 1895 onwards, he worked with his father and his father's colleague, Nikodem Caro, at their cyanid and cyanamide production facilities. In the early 1920s he became director of the Bayrische Stickstoff Werke . Albert Frank retained this position until his emigration to the USA in 1938. In America, Frank obtained a post with American Cyanamid for whom he had previously acted as German consultant. Albert Frank died in New York in 1965.

Robert Frank was Albert Frank's nephew. He worked as a freelance consultant for the chemical industry and put a lot of effort into preserving the memory of his relatives' scientific achievements.

From the guide to the Adolph and Albert Frank Collection, 1872-1995, bulk 1900-1960s, (Leo Baeck Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Biographical Information, 1916-1998 (bulk 1960s-1980s) David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Adolph and Albert Frank Collection, 1872-1995, bulk 1900-1960s Leo Baeck Institute.
referencedIn Grove Press Records, 1953-1985 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Iconographic Collection, 1848-2005 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith a Frank family family
associatedWith American Cyanamid Company corporateBody
associatedWith Bayerische Stickstoff-Werke AG corporateBody
associatedWith Caro, N. (Nikodem) person
associatedWith Frank, Adolph, 1834-1916 person
associatedWith Frank, Albert person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 person
associatedWith Grove Press. corporateBody
associatedWith J. Walter Thompson Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Ruebenzucker-Raffinerie Bennecke und Hecker corporateBody
associatedWith Vereinigte Chemische Fabriken corporateBody
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Ark ID: w66b9g8x

SNAC ID: 41816018