Skip to main content

Aldrich Chemical Company Collection

 Collection
Identifier: 2007-168

Scope and Content

The Aldrich Chemical Company Collection contains the corporate records of Aldrich Chemical Company, which were collected and maintained by its founder Alfred R. Bader. The contents of the collection include miscellaneous publicity materials and a selection of corporate papers dealing with the early years of the corporation. The collection is arranged into the following three series:

  1. Stock Certificates and Corporate Record Books
  2. Public Relations Material
  3. Alfred R. Bader Material

Dates

  • 1947-1997
  • Bulk 1951-1980

Creator

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Aldrich Chemical Company Collection. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Alfred R. Bader and Aldrich Chemical Company

Alfred Robert Bader was an Austrian Canadian research chemist, entrepreneur, historian, and collector of fine art. Bader was born on April 28, 1924 in Vienna, Austria. In June 1938, he was forced out of school because Jews were forbidden to attend beyond the age of fourteen. On December 10, 1938, he was sent from Austria to England as part of the Kindertransport to escape Nazi persecution. While in England, Bader attended the East Hove Senior School for Boys, and Brighton Technical College in Brighton. In 1940, his immigrant status changed upon the outbreak of hostilities with Germany, causing him to be deported to Canada and sent to a Canadian internment camp for European refugees.

While in the camp, Bader passed his junior and senior matriculation, taking exams from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. A Montreal sponsor, Martin Wolff, welcomed him into a Canadian Jewish family in late 1941 and encouraged him to study further. After being rejected by McGill University, which had a Jewish "quota" and by the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario where the chemistry department was doing sensitive war work, Bader was accepted by Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario. He received his B.S. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s University (1945), followed by a B.A. in History (1946) from the same school. During the summers, Bader worked for the Murphy Paint Company in Montreal, Quebec, formulating paints, lacquers, and varnishes to order. He completed his M.S. in Chemistry (1947) at Queen’s University, while doing considerable work on the oxidation of linoleic acids and isomeric tetrahydroxy stearic acids. While working for the Murphy Paint Company, Bader was offered financial support to do graduate work, on the condition that he return to work at the company.

Bader was awarded a research fellowship allowing him to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a student of Louis F. Fieser. He received both an M.A. in Chemistry (1949) and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry (1950) from Harvard University. In 1950, Bader moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to take up a position as a research chemist with Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG). His appointment to PPG’s Milwaukee research facilities broke an unwritten rule against the hiring of Jews and African-Americans.

While at PPG, where he served as Research Chemist and Organic Group Leader (1950-1954), Bader did significant work in noncatalytic transesterification and in the development of monomers, including systematic studies of alkenylphenols, unsaturated phenols, and phenolic resins. This work led to a number of patents. The patent for his method of creating diphenolic acid was later sold by PPG to S. C. Johnson and Son, Incorporated for one million dollars.

Aldrich Chemical Company was founded in 1951 by Bader and his friend, attorney Jack N. Eisendrath, each of them putting two hundred-fifty dollars into the venture. The company started as a mail order business, selling domestic and imported chemicals from a series of catalogs which grew in size and reputation. At the time of the firm’s founding, Bader was still employed by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, but when the company decided to move its research facilities to the east, Bader declined to follow, resigning to devote his full attention to his business. In 1955, he bought out Eisendrath and became sole proprietor of Aldrich until 1966, when it became a publicly traded company following an initial offer of one hundred thousand shares of stock, of which only fourteen thousand shares were sold. Aldrich’s expertise lay in the field of organic chemicals, but with the burgeoning of research in the biochemical area, Aldrich viewed expansion as both natural and desirable.

In 1971, Aldrich purchased sixteen percent of the stock of Hexagon Laboratories, Incorporated, a New York manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and biochemical intermediates. In January 1975, Hexagon received a tender offer from Pharma-Investment Limited, a Canadian affiliate of Boehringer Ingelheim, G.m.b.H., a German pharmaceutical manufacturer. Around the same time, Aldrich and Sigma International, Limited, a St. Louis, Missouri-based manufacturer of biochemical products, announced plans for a merger. The resultant holding company became known as Sigma-Aldrich Corporation and is based in St. Louis, although it has divisions throughout the world. With sales in excess of two billion dollars, Sigma-Aldrich became the most profitable chemical company in the world.

From 1975 to 1980, Alfred R. Bader served as president of Sigma-Aldrich. He served as chairman of the company from 1980 to 1988. In an unexpected corporation upheaval, Bader was voted off the board of the company in 1992, losing the title of chairman emeritus, but remaining one of the largest holders of the company's stock. The company later reinstated him in the role of "chemist collector," in which he provided the company journal, Aldrichimica Acta, with paintings for its covers.

After Bader was expelled from the board of Sigma-Aldrich, he decided to pursue his great love for art, becoming a respected art historian as well as a dealer in fine art. His specialty was the Dutch School, and he had a special fondness for works depicting alchemical and biblical scenes. Bader was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University, and Queen’s University. Alfred R. Bader passed away on December 23, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sources

Aldrich Chemical Company Collection, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Alfred R. Bader, Science History Institute Center for Oral History, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Extent

4.0 Linear Feet (4 Boxes.)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Accounts ledgers, stock certificates, notebooks, check stubs, market reports, annual reports, registration statements, press releases, news clippings, catalogs, slides, and correspondence belonging to Aldrich Chemical Company, which were collected and maintained by its founder, Austrian Canadian chemist Alfred R. Bader.

Acquisition Information

The Aldrich Chemical Company Collection was donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Alfred R. Bader in 2007.

Related Materials

The Alfred R. Bader Oral History is preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Alfred Bader Family Collection is preserved at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, New York.

Title
Aldrich Chemical Company Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Date
2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Samantha Brigher.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

Contact:
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.8265
215.873.5265 (Fax)