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Papers of Paul D. Bartlett

Identifier: 91-08-001

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett contain the professional and personal papers of American physical-organic chemist Paul D. Bartlett. The collection is arranged into the following six series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Lectures
  3. Reprints
  4. Reports
  5. Notebooks
  6. Personal Items


  • Creation: 1929-19890
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1956-1989


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 the copyright to the Papers of Paul D. Bartlett. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Paul D. Bartlett was an American physical-organic chemist. Bartlett was born on August 14, 1907, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended Amherst College and was a devoted member of The Class of 1928. Bartlett began his studies toward a doctoral degree at Harvard University, working under James Bryant Conant, and received his master’s degree in 1929. In 1931 Bartlett received his Ph.D. and became a National Research Fellow. The following year Bartlett began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota. By 1934 Bartlett had returned to Harvard as an instructor in Chemistry, where he eventually became a full professor in 1946. As a physical-organic chemist, Paul D. Bartlett conducted original work in several areas, including bridgehead halogens (1939), the hydrogen-halide exchange reaction (1944), and free radical chemistry. As an educator, his Harvard courses on organic reaction mechanisms were the first to stress studying the reactions themselves rather than mere memorization of facts. This teaching method went on to become the worldwide accepted standard. Bartlett worked with professional organizations like the Gordon Research Conferences, where he helped initiate the long-running series of Conferences on Reaction Mechanisms, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). At Harvard University, he championed academic freedom and was an early opponent of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Bartlett remained at Harvard until his retirement from the university in 1972. He then moved to Fort Worth, Texas to accept a Welch Professorship at Texas Christian University (TCU). In 1982 Bartlett was the recipient of the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry. In 1985 he fully retired and stepped down from the TCU’s Welch Chair of Chemistry.

Bartlett remained in touch with his former students. The “Red Book,” a memory book compiled by his Harvard students, was a prized possession. In 1997, Bartlett students worldwide honored their former professor with well-wishes on his 90th birthday. Paul D. Bartlett died of natural causes in Lexington, Massachusetts, on October 11, 1997.


Papers of Paul D. Bartlett, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


20.0 Linear Feet (25 Boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the correspondence, notes, article reprints, reports, and notebooks of American physical-organic chemist Paul D. Bartlett.

Acquisition Infromation

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Sarah W. Bartlett in five accretions: 1991, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2015.

Digitized Materials

Selected materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online in our Digital Collections:

Related Materials

The Photographs from the Papers of Paul D. Bartlett are preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Paul D. Bartlett Family Correspondence is preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Papers of Paul Doughty Bartlett are preserved at the Harvard University Archives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An oral history interview with Paul Doughty Bartlett is preserved at the American Institute of Physics’ Niels Bohr Library and Archives in College Park, Maryland.

Processing Information

The Papers of Paul D. Bartlett were processed by Stephanie Morris in August 1991. The finding aid was revised by Andrew Mangravite on September 22, 2009, and Patrick Burden on March 28, 2022.

Papers of Paul D. Bartlett
In Progress
Finding aid prepared by Stephanie Morris, revised by Andrew Mangravite, and encoded into EAD by Patrick Burden
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2022: Finding aid revised by Patrick Burden
  • 8/28/2023: Digitized Materials note added.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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