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Rudolph Pariser Papers

Identifier: 2002-001-001

Scope and Content

The Rudolph Pariser Papers consist of four and a half linear feet of original material pertaining to the Pariser-Parr-Pople method. Pariser’s papers offer a glimpse into the development, and subsequent application, of one of the most widely used methods in quantum chemistry. Pariser’s later work with polymer science is not included in these archives, nor is there any representation of his personal life. The Rudolph Pariser Papers are an invaluable resource for scholars of quantum chemistry and molecular structure, and they are especially valuable for scholars of the Pariser-Parr-Pople method. The collection is arranged into the following eight series:

  1. Computer Programming Information
  2. Correspondence
  3. Manuscripts
  4. Meetings and Symposia
  5. Notes and Data
  6. References
  7. Visual Materials
  8. Addenda


  • Creation: 1946-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1951-1966


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Rudolph Pariser Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Rudolph Pariser was born in Harbin, China on December 8, 1923. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California (1944), and subsequently attended the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry (1950). Shortly after graduating, Pariser began work as a research chemist for DuPont’s Jackson Laboratory in Deepwater, New Jersey. One of his first tasks at DuPont was to characterize several of the organic dyes the company was synthesizing for its new synthetic fibers. Pariser felt the best way to understand these dyes was to study their structure/property relationships, and he believed quantum chemistry to be the best way to begin.

In July 1951, Pariser consulted with Robert Parr, also a University of Minnesota alumnus, regarding the application of quantum calculations to determine the electronic spectra of complex dyes. It was during this meeting that they began their collaboration. After much research and experimentation, Pariser and Parr had developed a “semi-empirical theory… designed for the correlation and prediction of the wavelengths and intensities… of complex unsaturated molecules.” Their theory became known as the Pariser-Parr-Pople (PPP) method. Theoretical chemist John Pople was simultaneously performing parallel studies to those of Pariser and Parr.

Pariser and Parr first presented their findings on June 9, 1952 at the Symposium on Molecular Structure and Spectroscopy. Their work was well received by the chemical community. Later that year, they wrote a two-paper series entitled “A Semi-Empirical Theory of the Electronic Spectra and Electronic Structure of Complex Unsaturated Molecules,” which further outlined their method. These papers, first published by The Journal of Chemical Physics in 1953, became two of the most heavily cited publications in chemistry and physics.

After a few initial applications of the PPP method to complex molecules, Pariser turned his attention to polymer science. He was named Research Supervisor of DuPont’s Polymer Division in 1954, and by 1974, he had been named Director of Pioneering Research in the Elastomer Chemicals Department. As director, Pariser oversaw the development of many new elastomer products. In 1980, he was appointed Research Director of the Polymer Products Department. Pariser retired in 1989 after working as Director for Advanced Materials Science for the Central Research and Development Department. However, even after his retirement, he remained active as a consultant in his areas of expertise, and as President of Pariser and Company, Incorporated.

Rudolph Pariser is a member of numerous professional associations, including, but not limited to, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, and the National Science Foundation.


Rudolph Pariser Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Pariser, Rudolph. “On the Origins of the PPP Method.” International Journal of Quantum Chemistry XXXVII (1990): 319-325.

Pariser, Rudolph and Robert G. Parr. “A Semi-Empirical Theory of the Electronic Spectra and Electronic Structure of Complex Unsaturated Molecules. I.” Journal of Chemical Physics 21 (1953): 466-471.


5.0 Linear Feet (11 boxes.)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, manuscripts, notes, data, photographs, publications, and glass slides belonging to American physical and polymer chemist Rudolph Pariser.

Acquisition Information

The Rudolph Pariser Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Rudolph Pariser in 2001.

Related Materials

There is one other known collection created by Rudolph Pariser preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Photographs from the Papers of Rudolph Pariser.

Processing Information

The Rudolph Pariser Papers were processed by Kristin D. Clark in 2002 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.

Rudolph Pariser Papers
The Rudolph Pariser Papers were processed by Kristin D. Clark in 2002 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Samantha Brigher.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)