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Ira Remsen

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Ira Remsen (1846-1927)


1927 Obituary[1]

"THE LATE PROF. IRA REMSEN.

Chemical science has recently lost another veteran of international renown in Dr. Ira Remsen, who died at the age of 81 years, and may be said to have instigated chemical research in the United States and contributed eminently to its remarkable development.

Ira Remsen, born on February 10, 1846, in New York, descended from early Dutch settlers on Long Island. Trained as a medical man, he took his M.D. at Columbia College when only 21 years old. Unable to satisfy his desire for chemical teaching, he went to Munchen, Gottingen and Tubingen, acting in the latter University as assistant to his teacher Fifctig. Returning to America in 1872, he was appointed professor of physios and chemistry at Williams College, but was informed, when asking for a laboratory, that they were a college and not a school. He obtained a laboratory, however, and also did much for technical and medical chemistry, studying furnace gases, pure food, and the denaturation of alcohol. He gave his approval to the use of alum in bread and to food preservation by means of sodium benzoate, on the strength of experiments on his own body. His “ Principles of Theoretical Chemistry,” published in 1876, was translated into several languages, and was followed by other equally popular text-books. As professor of chemistry at Johns Hopkins’ University, in Baltimore, together with his colleague, H. A. Rowland, he represented American science worthily on many occasions.

He founded the American Chemical Journal in 1879, but as first volume of the Journal of the American Chemical Society was also published in the same year, there was much confusion between the two periodicals until Remsen’s journal was absorbed by the other in 1914. A very popular genial man, he retired from the presidency of Johns Hopkins’ University in 1912, with the title of Professor Emeritus, and spent the last years of his life in California, where he died. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Chemical Society in this country."


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