Charles H. Herty papers, 1860-1938

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zf9s

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Herty, Charles H. (Charles Holmes), 1867-1938.
Title: Charles H. Herty papers, 1860-1938
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 8
Extent:73.5 linear ft. (147 boxes), 3 bound volumes (BV), 42 oversized papers (OP), and 54 microfilm reels (MF)
Abstract:Personal and professional papers of Georgia chemist Charles Holmes Herty, including correspondence, financial and legal records, manuscripts, notes, photographs, clippings and copies of articles and speeches dealing with Herty's research and interests, records of his work with professional organizations, and family photographs and memorabilia.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 1957, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Charles H. Herty papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Monica J. Blanchard, 1981.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Charles Holmes Herty was born December 4, 1867, in Milledgeville, Georgia, to Bernard R. Herty, a druggist, and Louisa Turno (Holmes) Herty. He and his younger sister Florence were orphaned at an early age. They were brought up by an aunt, Florence I. Holmes of Athens, Georgia. After graduating from Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College in Milledgeville (1884), Herty went to the University of Georgia (B.Ph. 1886) and Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., chemistry, 1890). His dissertation research on double halides of lead and alkali metals was directed by Dr. Ira Remson.

He worked as an assistant chemist at the Georgia State Experiment Station (1890-1891), and was an instructor and adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia (1891-1902). He introduced football to the University, and served as the first athletic director. In 1899, Herty went to Europe and studied under eminent chemists including Dr. Alfred Werner and Dr. Otto N. Witt. He returned to the United States in 1901 disturbed by Witt's criticism of the wastefulness of the American naval stores industry. His own observations confirmed the validity of the criticism. In the summer of 1901, Herty introduced a cup and gutter system for collecting turpentine on an experimental scale in Statesboro, Georgia, under a grant from naval stores factors. The results were encouraging. He worked for the U. S. Bureau of Forestry (1902-1904) refining and publicizing his patented process. In 1904 and 1905 he was employed by the Chattanooga Pottery Company, the distributor of his patented turpentine cups. The cup and gutter system was efficient, more productive, and less destructive of trees than the boxing method used by most American turpentine gatherers, and it quickly became the standard process for collecting turpentine.

As a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1905-1916), Herty continued to do some research on the theory of chemical compounds, but increasingly he turned his efforts to the practical application of chemistry for the improvement of industry. At Chapel Hill he carried out research on various pine products, cottonseed oil, soaps and leather.

Herty became nationally prominent in 1915 when he was elected president of the American Chemical Society. He was twice president of the American Chemical Society (1915-1916), editor of the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (1917-1921), president of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (1921-1926), and advisor to the Chemical Foundation, Inc. (1926-1928). During these years he was primarily a publicist for the cause of chemistry and the American chemical industry. He called for the development of Southern chemical resources, cooperation research between universities and industries, more fundamental chemical research, and an improvement in the quality of industrial chemical education. He attempted to educate the public on the importance of chemistry in everyday life through a series of speeches, articles and joint efforts with the Chemical Foundation. He played an important role in the establishment of an independent American organic chemical industry, particularly the coal-tar industry. In 1919 President Wilson sent him to Europe to negotiate the purchase of impounded German dyestuffs. Herty stressed the importance of chemical industry to the national defense, and energetically defended the establishment of the U. S. Chemical Warfare Service (1918-1929). He also helped in the creation of the National Institute of Health (1918-1930).

From 1928 to 1938 he concentrated his efforts on developing and promoting chemical industry in the South. As an independent industrial consultant (1928-1935) he encouraged financial investments in existing southern industries, and he helped to create new industries. It was commonly believed that young southern pines were too resinous for use as newsprint paper pulp. Herty discovered that this was not true. In 1932 he was appointed director of the Division of Pulp and Paper Research of the Georgia Department of Forestry and Geological Development. Grants from the State of Georgia, the Chemical Foundation, and the City of Savannah provided for the construction of a laboratory in Savannah (this became the Herty Foundation Laboratory in 1938) for experimental work with pine pulps. Herty's successful experiments opened the way for a southern newsprint paper industry. A 1938 March of Time newsreel gave wide publicity to this work.

In 1933 and 1934 Herty served as a deputy administrator of the National Recovery Administration. He was also a member of the Georgia State Planning Board (1937-1938). He was actively involved in the organization and work of the National Farm Chemurgic Council (1935-1938).

In 1932 he received the medal of the American Institute of Chemists. In 1934 he received the first Herty medal, a chemistry award given annually in his honor by the Georgia State College for Women and the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society. He was awarded honorary degrees by Colgate University, Duke University, Oglethorpe University, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Herty married Sophie Schaller of Athens in 1895. They had three children: Dr. Charles Holmes Herty, Jr., a steel metallurgist; Frank Bernard Herty, a business executive; and Sophie Dorothea Herty Minis, plant physiologist. Herty died in Savannah on July 27, 1938, following heart attack, and was buried in Milledgeville. After his death, the Slash Pine Forestry Association campaigned for the establishment of a Herty Forest Institute in Waycross, Georgia, to carry on a forestry education program for young people. The Charles Holmes Herty Memorial Highway, from Columbus to Savannah by way of Statesboro, became part of the official Georgia state highway system in 1940. The liberty ship S.S. Charles H. Herty, launched from Savannah on November 17, 1943, was another tribute to Herty's work. A plaque was set up in the State Capitol of Georgia in 1946 to commemorate his achievements in Georgia and in the South.

More biographical information can be found in the following articles: Frank K. Cameron, "Charles Holmes Herty (1867-1938)," Journal of the American Chemical Society, 61 (1939): 1619-1624; D. H. Killeffer, Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 2: 300-302; A. V. H. Mory., "American Contemporaries-Charles Holmes Herty," Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 24 (December 1912): 1441-1442; Florence E. Wall, "Charles Holmes Herty-Apostle to the South.," The Chemist, 9 (February 1932): 123-131.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the personal and professional papers of Charles Holmes Herty from 1860-1938. The papers include personal and professional correspondence; financial and legal records; manuscripts, notes, photographs, clippings and copies of articles and speeches dealing with Herty's research and interests; records of his work with professional organizations; and family photographs and memorabilia.

Series 6, Industrial Progress and National Defense, is the largest of the fifteen series. Most of the papers are from the years 1915 to 1928. They concern Herty's work for the development and protection of the American chemical industry, particularly the coal-tar industry; his defense and promotion of the U. S. Chemical Warfare Service; and his campaign linking a strong national defense to an independent American chemical industry.

Series 3, American Chemical Society, is another large series. It contains papers relating to Herty's terms as ACS president (1915-1916) and editor of the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (1917-1921) and to the other activities of his 35 years as an ACS member.

Series 4, Naval Stores, Forestry, and Paper and Pulp, deals with Herty's scientific contributions to the naval stores and paper and pulp industries, his work as an officer of the U. S. Bureau of Forestry (1902-1904), with the Pine Institute of America, Inc. (1925-1932), as a member of the Advisory Committee of the U. S. Timber Conservation Board (1931-1932), and as director of the Savannah Pulp and Paper Laboratory (1932-1938).

There are some gaps in the papers. There is little correspondence about Herty's activities as director of athletics and football coach at the University of Georgia (Series 2); as president (1921-1926) of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (Series 6); and as director of the Savannah Pulp and Paper Laboratory (1932-1938).

Herty was a prolific letter writer with many friends and contacts in government, industry and the academic world. He corresponded with Representative Ebenezer J. Hill (Conn.) (1915-1917, 64 items) and Senator Furnifold M. Simmons (N.C.) (1915-1921, 28 items) about protective legislation for the American coal-tar dye industry. There are approximately 450 items of correspondence (mostly 1926-1932) between Herty and Senator Joseph Ransdell (La.) concerning Ransdell's legislation for a National Institute of Health. Herty maintained a long-term correspondence beginning in 1916 with Representative Nicholas Longworth (Ohio), and continuing after Longworth's death in 1931 with his secretary, Mildred Reeves. The correspondence concerned protective legislation for the American chemical industry and the progress of Senator Ransdell's Health Institute legislation in the House of Representatives.

There is correspondence (mostly 1901-1902) with U. S. Forester Gifford Pinchot who was impressed by Herty's naval stores work and appointed him to the U. S. Bureau of Forestry. General Amos A. Fries, Chief of the U. S. Chemical Warfare Service, was a frequent correspondent in the 1920's. Herty's closest association was with Francis P. Garvan, Alien Property Custodian and President of the Chemical Foundation., Inc. From 1919 until Garvan's death in 1937, they worked together to protect American chemical industry, to establish a National Institute of Health, and to educate the public about the importance of chemistry in everyday life.

Herty was in frequent contact with a great number of chemists and other scientists throughout his career. He was especially close to Dr. Edward Fahs Smith (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Francis Preston Venable (University of North Carolina), and Dr. William Hale (Dow Chemical Co., research consultant). Beginning in 1911, he continued an intermittent but lifelong correspondence with Eloise Gerry of the U. S. Forest Service.

Herty also maintained a long and close association with the Manufacturers Record (1901-1932) and with its editor, R. H. Edmonds. Other significant correspondents are included in the Index to Selected Correspondents.

Arrangement Note

Organized into sixteen series: (1) General correspondence, (2) Academic career, life at Chapel Hill, and Episcopal Church, (3) American Chemical Society, (4) Naval stores, forestry and paper and pulp, (5) Agriculture and natural resources, (6) Industrial progress and national defense, (7) Medicine and health, (8) Chemical Foundation, Inc., and Francis P. Garvan, (9) Industrial consultant work, (10) Educational work, (11) Associations and organizations, (12) Personal papers, mementoes and memorabilia , (13) Notebooks, speeches, writings, clippings, and office filing system, (14) Printed materials on microfilm, (15) Photographs, and (16) Additions.

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