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Floyd E. Bartell
LSA Minutes


The death on March 5, 1961. of Floyd Earl Bartell, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, terminated a career of high distinction in science and of devoted service to The University of Michigan.

Floyd E. Bartell was born June 16, 1883, the son of William and Margaret Allman Bartell. He spent the early part of his life near his birthplace, Concord, Michigan. Following graduation with an A.B. degree from Albion College in 1905, he spent two years as instructor in chemistry at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa. His enrollment in the graduate school in 1907 started an association with The University of Michigan which extended without interuption to the time of his death. He received the degree of Master of Arts in 1908 and that of Doctor of Philosophy in 1910. He was immediately appointed Instructor in Chemistry and passed through the academic ranks to a full professorship in 1924. In 1921 he was married to Lawrence Bunting Sims, of Newport News, Virginia, herself a holder of three degrees from the University -- B.S.Ch.E in 1920, M.S. in 1921, A.M. (Library Science) in 1952. Two children were born of this marriage, a daughter who died in 1946 and a son, Lawrence S. Bartell who, following in his father's footsteps, also received the Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from The University of Michigan and is now a professor of chemistry at Iowa State University.

During both World Wars, Professor Bartell rendered valuable service to the war effort. In 1918 and 1919, he was Captain in the Nitrate Division of the Ordance Department. As Director of the Cyanide Experiment Station, he devised one of the important methods for the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, a problem of great military concern at that time. In World War II, he served as Consultant to the Office of Scientific Research and Development. His most noteworthy contribution during this period was the development of a new light weight waterproof material known as "aerobond". The unique property of this material in permitting access of air but not of water made it of great value in military clothing in preventing the accumulation of perspiration.

In his long association with the University, Professor Bartell made outstanding contributions as a teacher, as an administrator in academic affairs, as a pioneer in the development of Colloid Chemistry in the United States, and as a scientific investigator.

Early in his teaching career, in 1913, he developed the first course in Colloid Chemistry at The University of Michigan, indeed one of the first courses in this subject in the United States. During the many years until his retirement, he gave instruction in Colloid Chemistry to many hundreds of students in all branches of science; his influence in calling attention to the wide ramifications of the subject will thus long continue. His laboratory manual in Colloid Chemistry was extensively used here and elsewhere.

Although, as will be evident later, he was exceedingly busy in teaching and research, he gave unstintingly of his time to the work of University administration. He served for many years on the University Committee on Student Affairs, and on the Executive Committees of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and of the Graduate School, as well as on important departmental committees.

Colloid Chemistry in the United States is greatly indebted to the services of Professor Bartell in the substitution of the scientific for the empirical approach to the subject and in the development of valuable applications in many important segments of American industry. For the present status of this branch of science, major credit is due him as one of the organizers of the Colloid Symposium (1923) and of the Colloid Division of the American Chemical Society (1926); for many years he played an active and stimulating role as an officer in both of these organizations, which have become increasingly important with the passage of time. He also gave liberally of his time and ability in an editorial capacity to the publications in this field.

As a research scientist and director of graduate research, he had a truly remarkable record. He possessed an unusual ability to stimulate enthusiasm for research in the field of colloid chemistry as shown by the fact that 57 men received the Ph.D. degree under his direction and that approximately 120 publications have resulted from this cooperative effort. It is interesting In this connection to note that a father and son both received their doctoral degrees under Professor Bartell's supervision. (Harley Y. Jennings, Sr. and Jr.) One of his best remembered and thoroughly appreciated characteristics was his continuing interest in both the scientific and personal welfare of his graduate students during and subsequent to their college careers. This deep personal concern has no doubt contributed greatly to the success of these many students, of whom 14 are now professors in American universities, while the remainder hold important positions in industry. His academic career did not terminate with his retirement in 1953 as evidenced by the fact that several of these men completed their doctoral work under his guidance subsequent to that date.

Six years after his retirement Professor Bartell's eminent scientific career was signally recognized when he received the American Chemical Society Kendall. Award in Colloid Chemistry with the citation: " Floyd E. Bartell, pioneer teacher and a founder of Colloid Chemistry in America, for his numerous, meritorious researches in fundamental and applied aspects of Colloid Chemistry in America." The award was presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, April 8, 1959, at which time a special symp0- sium was held in his honor with a distinguished group of research papers presented by his former students.

In the death of Floyd E. Bartell, his colleagues at The University of Michigan, his many friends and former students have suffered the loss of a beloved teacher alld friend, all of whom join 'in. extending sympathy to his wife and son.

H.H. Willard
L.O. Case