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HENRY WURTZ PAPERS, 1733; 1861-1885
#6

(2 cubic ft.; 3 DB, 1 F/O)

by:  Robert S. Harding, 1982

Biography

Henry Wurtz (1828-1910), chemist and editor, contributed to both the theory and practice of chemistry. He was born in Easton Pennsylvania and studied at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), where his interest in scientific pursuits was awakened by studies under Joseph Henry and John Torrey. He graduated in 1848 and then undertook graduate studies at M.I.T., Harvard, and Yale.  He received an Honorable Phd. from the Stevens Institute of Technology.   Between 1854 and 1856 he was state chemist and geologist of the New Jersey Geological Survey. In 1858 he was appointed professor of chemistry and pharmacy at the National Medical College of Washington, D.C. (later George Washington University). During these years he also served as chemical examiner in the United States Patent Office.  In 1861 in New York he opened a private laboratory for general consulting work. During the years 1877-1887 he was engaged in developing processes for increasing the yields of paraffin oils and other by-products of the distillation of coal.  He devoted the remaining years of his life to his private consulting practice and took out  numerous patents relating to the distillation of paraffin hydrocarbons and other chemical products.  The mineral "Wurtzilite" was named after him by Professor George Kunz.

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Union Chemical Manufacturing Company, 1883-1885  

This series relating to the Union Chemical Manufacturing Company (UMC) includes patent specifications, 1881; a prospectus on coal distillation, 1885; correspondence with the Patent Office;  and a notebook of minutes from meetings of the UCM, 1881-1883.  Wurtz's scheme, presented in a report to the stockholders of UCM in 1883, was a new method for the dry distillation of non-caking coal to obtain liquid oils and paraffin.

Series 2: Petroleum Distillation and Miscellaneous Chemical Consulting, 1884-1885

This box contains material relating to Wurtz's interest in petroleum distillation (1884-1885), and his attempt to market inventions for obtaining lubricants from petroleum distillates. Related material includes: correspondence with prospective investors; proofs and galleys for the prospectus; news clippings on petroleum; various contracts.  The box also includes correspondence with A.R. Leeds, F.W. Clark and others regarding Wurtz's search for a new assistant (1881); and catalogs for scientific books and instruments (1880's). 

Series 3: The Book of Inventions, 1861

"The Book of Inventions, made by Henry Wurtz from about 1850, Compilation and Arrangement, from Scattered Notes, Commenced in September 1861, by H.W,"  is a day book that includes brief descriptions of various subjects in the chemical arts.  It includes a subject index. Slipped inside is a letter from Wurtz to Joseph Henry, dated November 9, 1861, relating to "warlike inventions."  The box also contains four copies of the book.

Series 4: Wurtz Biographical Material & Family Photographs

This series contains family photographs and Wurtz's business card.

Series 5: Publications

This series includes several books that Wurtz presumably used in his research.

Container List

Box   Folder

Series 1: UNION CHEMICAL MANUFACTURING COMPANY, 1881-1885

1

1

-"Coal Distillation," by Henry Wurtz, No. #1, New York: July 1, 1885

-"Coal Distillation," by Henry Wurtz, No. #2, New York: July 1, 1885

-Statement to the stockholders of Union Chemical Manufacturing Co. (UCM), 1883

2

Petition/specification for Improvements in the Method and Apparatus for Dry Destructive Distillation, Henry Wurtz,  August 24, 1881 (hand written)

3

-Correspondence with inventors and stockholders, including Wurtz and Franz Edo Bruckmann; Miscellaneous correspondence

-List of Stockholders, March 14, 1882;

4

-Specification: for describing an improved method and apparatus on coal distillation (hand written)

-"The Process of Distillation;"

5

-Notebook listing stockholders, October, 1881

-Postcards to Wurtz, 1882 & 1885

-List of officers of company

6

-"Quality of Dr. Wurtz’s Products

-"Coal Distillation," regarding Wurtz’s work on distillation (article)

-Correspondence from Wurtz regarding patents of UCM to H.M. Farley, Acting president of UCM, October 20, 1883; to Mr. Heye, April 11, 1885

-Estimate of Expenditures

7

Correspondence to Wurtz from Cotton Manufacturers, 1882-1883

8

Wurtz notes on coal distillation

9

Wurtz notes on his work & accomplishments, includes brief biography, and bibliography of his writings.

10

-Copy of Tariff bill

-Envelope labeled: "Dr Henry Wurtz, Cancelled orders: for Stocks Delivered"

-notes

11

Correspondence: USM Co., 1884

12

Notebook with incorporation statement and minutes from meetings of UCM, 1881-1883

Series 2: PETROLEUM DISTILLATION AND MISCELLANEOUS CHEMICAL CONSULTING, 1881-1885

2

1

News clippings:

- "The Jumel Mansion"

-"A Beethoven Portrait Belonging to the House of Brunswick"

2

Correspondence with A.R. Leeds, F.W. Clark and others regarding Wurtz’s search for a new assistant, 1881

3

Catalogs of scientific pamphlets:

-"Monthly List of Engineering Books,", New York: E. & F. N. Spon Jan., June, Aug.-Oct., 1884

-Catalogue of books relating to Applied Science," New York: E. & F. N. Spon, 1885

-Supplementary Catalogue New and Second Hand Microscopes..." Philadelphia: James W. Queen & Co., 1880

-"Price List...Asbestos Materials," New York: Robert M. Gilmour, 1882.

4

Miscellaneous news clippings regarding Petroleum Distillation

5

Notes and correspondence to Wurtz from and regarding George F. Sandt and Mr. Sheldon

6

Correspondence in two packets labeled:

a) "Contracts - Stocks"

b) "Correspondence," 1881

7

Correspondence and miscellaneous notes in two packets labeled:

a) "Firman and Pierce" regarding formation of stock company: Standard Coal Distilling Company

b) "Bills and Vouchers: Accounts and Expenses"

Series 3: THE BOOK OF INVENTIONS, 1861

3

1

"Book Of Inventions," 1861

2-5

"Book Of Inventions," copies

Series 4: WURTZ BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL & FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS, 1848-1891

2

8

Photoprints of Wurtz family, from two glass negatives, #83-1890, #83-1891.
[negatives sent to OPPS for storage, March, 1983]

9

Three photoprints of Augusta Harrison Clark Wurtz, 1870s

10

-Miscellaneous biographical material

-Wurtz business card

11

Photoprint (hand-tinted) of Dr. Henry Wurtz, ca. 1860-1870

4 F/O

1

Wurtz Diploma, membership certificate Whig Society, College of New Jersey (Princeton), 1848

Series 5: PUBLICATIONS, 1733; 1878

2

12

Arbuthnot, John. Essay Concerning the Effects of Air on Human Bodies. London, England: J Tonson in the Strand, 1733

13

Hart, Edward. A Handbook of Volumetric Analysis. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1878.

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Revised: January 4, 2001