Boltwood, Bertram Borden, 1870-1927

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Ph.D. from Yale 1897; opened a private laboratory in New Haven with Joseph Hyde Pratt and acted as consultant to industry, 1900-1906; began work on radioactivity in 1904; Yale professor of physics in 1906, professor of radiochemistry, 1910-1927.

From the description of Bertram Borden Boltwood papers 1890-1932 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702165927

Ph.D. from Yale 1897; opened a private laboratory in New Haven with Joseph Hyde Pratt and acted as consultant to industry, 1900-1906; began work on radioactivity in 1904; Yale professor of physics in 1906, professor of radiochemistry, 1910-1927.

Bertram Borden Boltwood (1870-1927), born in Amherst, Massachusetts, was the son of Thomas Kast Boltwood (1844-1872) and Margaret Mathilda Van Hoesen (1842-1909), and the grandson of Lucius Boltwood (1792-1872) and Fanny Haskins Shepard (d. 1888).

Boltwood attended Albany Academy, Albany, New York, before entering Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University in 1889. He graduated from Sheffield in 1892 with the highest rank in chemistry. From 1892 to 1894 Boltwood studied rare earths and analytical methods in Germany. Boltwood returned to Yale as an assistant in chemistry in 1894 and was made an instructor of chemistry in 1896. He received his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Yale in 1897. In 1900 Boltwood left Yale to open a private laboratory in New Haven which he operated with mining engineer Joseph Hyde Pratt until 1906. It was during this latter period that Boltwood began his career as a consulting chemist to manufacturers, miners, and prospectors.

Boltwood became interested in the field of radioactivity around the time Rutherford and Soddy announced their theory of disintegration of radioactive elements in 1900. Stimulated by the prospect of a visit by Rutherford to New Haven in 1904, Boltwood began experiments to prove that uranium and radium exist in a constant ratio in unaltered minerals. The results of the experiments gave strong support to the disintegration theory. Impressed with Boltwood's work, Rutherford urged him to continue working in the field. Rutherford's visit to Boltwood's laboratory in New Haven marked the beginning of a productive, friendly association between the two men. Boltwood's successive experiments in radioactivity led to the important discoveries and proofs referred to in the preceding pages.

Boltwood returned to Yale in 1906 as assistant professor of physics. During the academic year 1909-1910 Boltwood worked in Rutherford's laboratory at the University of Manchester. Upon his return from abroad, Boltwood was made professor of radiochemistry of Yale College, a position he held until his death in 1927. By this time, however, Boltwood's years of productivity in the field of radioactivity were largely over.

In the years following his return from England, Boltwood assisted Professor H. A. Bumstead in the building of the Sloane Physics Laboratory (1912) and became its acting director during Bumstead's absence in 1913-1914. Boltwood later devoted much of his time to planning the construction and equipment of the Sterling Chemical Laboratory (1921). This work seems to have put a tremendous strain on Boltwood's health and he suffered several nervous breakdowns before his eventual suicide in Maine on August 15, 1927.

From the guide to the Bertram Borden Boltwood papers, 1890-1932, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Boltwood, Bertram Borden, 1870-1927. [Reprints]. Yale University Library
creatorOf Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Letters, 1904-1924, to Bertram Borden Boltwood. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Ernest Rutherford correspondence, 1890-1937, 1890-1937 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Boltwood, Bertram Borden, 1870-1927. Bertram Borden Boltwood papers 1890-1932 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Niels Bohr Library. History of physics manuscript biography collection A-C, 1901-1989, [ca. 1960]-1989 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Yale University. President's Office. Records of Arthur Twining Hadley as president of Yale University, 1899-1921 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Bertram Borden Boltwood papers, 1890-1932 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Correspondence, 1906-1937. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Ernest Rutherford correspondence, 1906-1937. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Boltwood, Bertram Borden, 1870-1927. Autobiography, ca. 1923. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. Correspondence, 1890-1937. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Yale University. President's Office. Records of Arthur Twining Hadley as president of Yale University, 1899-1921 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Ernest Rutherford letters, 1904-1924, to Bertram Borden Boltwood, 1904-1924 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Kovarik, Alois Francis, 1880-1965. Alois Francis Kovarik papers, 1902-1951 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Alois Francis Kovarik papers, 1902-1951 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Arthur Twining Hadley, president of Yale University, records, 1899-1921 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Kovarik, Alois Francis, 1880-1965. person
associatedWith Niels Bohr Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937. person
associatedWith Rutherford, Ernest Rutherford, Baron, 1871-1937. person
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. Faculty. corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. Kent Chemical Laboratory corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. President's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. President's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. President's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University. Sheffield Scientific School. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Radioactive substances
Chemistry--Research
Radioactivity
Nuclear physics
Laboratories--Administration
Science
Occupation
Chemists
Educators
Physicists
Function

Person

Birth 1870-07-27

Death 1927-08-15

Britons

English,

German,

French

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