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Herbert T. Pratt Papers

Identifier: GB14-030

Scope and Content

The Herbert T. Pratt Papers contain the research files and memorabilia of American chemical engineer, chemistry historian, and collector of rare chemistry books and chemistry memorabilia Herbert T. Pratt. The collection is arranged into the following eleven series:

  1. Research Files
  2. Printed Materials
  3. Manuals
  4. Papers
  5. Sample Cards and Sample Books
  6. Notebooks
  7. Miscellaneous Materials
  8. Signed Items
  9. Artifacts
  10. Oversized
  11. Images


  • Creation: 1793-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1945-2000


Language of Materials

A majority of the materials in this collection are in English. Also includes small amounts of materials in French and German.

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Copyright Information

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

Background Note

Herbert T. Pratt (1926-2014) was an American chemical engineer, chemistry historian, and a collector of rare chemistry books, chemistry memorabilia, and textiles memorabilia. A native of Eden, North Carolina, Pratt earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Tri-State College (now called Trine University) in 1945. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as a development engineer with King-Seeley Corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1946, he went to work for Fieldcrest Mills in Eden, North Carolina, where he served as Textile Chemist (1946-1948) and Head of Analytical and Applied Chemistry (1948-1952).

In 1952, Pratt joined Du Pont Company’s (E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company) Textile Fibers Department in Wilmington, Delaware, where he went on to enjoy a distinguished career. At Du Pont, he became a noted expert on textile chemistry, which included the areas of physical and chemical properties of fibers, textile dyeing and finishing, and quality management systems. Over the course of his career at Du Pont, Pratt rose through the Textile Fibers Department’s ranks, serving as Customer Service Representative (1952-1963), Research Engineer (1963-1966), Technical Representative (1966-1972), Technical Specialist (1972-1976), Senior Technical Specialist (1976-1980) and Technical Marketing Associate (1980-1985). From 1975 to 1985, he also served as Du Pont’s contact for law enforcement agencies seeking assistance in the use of textile fibers as legal evidence in criminal cases. Pratt retired from Du Pont in 1985.

While still working at Du Pont, Pratt embarked on a second career as a historian of chemistry, with a strong interest in textile chemistry. After retiring from Du Pont, he earned his M.A. in History from Goddard College (1987) and took up this avocation on a full-time basis. Pratt contributed a number of biographies to the 1976 and 1994 editions of American Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He was an active member of several historical organizations, including the National Foundation for History of Chemistry, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now called the Science History Institute). He was involved in several historic preservation projects, including the preservation of Viscose Village in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania.

In addition to his activities as a historian, Pratt was an avid collector of rare chemistry books. He eventually amassed a rare books collection of over 4000 volumes, many of which are now preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was also the founder of the Science History Institute’s Bolton Society, an organization for chemical bibliophiles. Pratt was also a collector of historic chemistry and textiles memorabilia, which included, but was not limited to, printed materials, notebooks, and signed items. Some of the memorabilia items he collected are also preserved at the Science History Institute (including the items in this archives collection).

Herbert T. Pratt authored numerous research papers on a variety of technical subjects, including textile chemistry and the history of chemistry. He was also an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and the American Chemical Society. Pratt was also the recipient of several awards, including the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists’ Olney Medal (1993) and Harold C. Chapin Award (1997).

Herbert T. Pratt passed away on January 23, 2014.


“Herbert T. Pratt.” Chemical & Engineering News, April 21, 2014 - Herbert T. Pratt (

Herbert T. Pratt Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Herbert T. Pratt to Receive The Olney Medal” - OlneyPratt.pdf (

“Herbert Thomas Pratt, 1926-2014” - Herbert Pratt Obituary (1926 - 2014) - Newark, DE - The News Journal (


9.0 Linear Feet (5 Record Boxes, 1 Hollinger Box, 2 Half Hollinger Boxes, and 1 Oversized Box. )


Research files, printed materials, manuals, sample cards and sample books, notebooks, and signed items of Herbert T. Pratt, an American chemical engineer, chemistry historian, and collector of rare chemistry books, chemistry memorabilia, and textiles memorabilia.

Acquisition Information

The Herbert T. Pratt Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Mary S. Pratt in August 2014.

Related Materials

There is one other known archival collection created by Herbert T. Pratt preserved at Rockingham Community College’s Rockingham County Historical Collections in Wentworth, North Carolina.

Processing Information

The Herbert T. Pratt Papers were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in August 2021.

Herbert T. Pratt Papers
Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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