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Fillmore Freeman

Organic chemist and chemistry professor Fillmore Freeman was born in 1936 in Lexington, Mississippi. Freeman earned his high school diploma from John Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois in 1953. In 1957, he graduated summa cum laude from Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio, with his B.S. degree, and then went on to pursue his graduate studies at Michigan State University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in physical organic chemistry in 1962.

After a brief stint working with a private firm, Freeman served as a National Institutes of Health Fellow at Yale University in 1964. The following year, he became an assistant professor of at California State University at Long Beach. During this time, the school expanded its chemistry and biochemistry programs to accommodate the growing interest in these fields. In 1973, Freeman became a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Irvine, where he continued to work for the duration of his professional career. With his background in physical organic chemistry, Freeman has conducted research on a number of topics, including organic synthesis pathways and reactions, particularly those of cyclic compounds. His research has also relied heavily on the use of computational chemistry. In 1991, Freeman was the recipient of a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the biochemical properties of allicin, a component of garlic chemistry. Freeman’s work has had a strong emphasis in isolating, researching and synthesizing compounds with anti-tumor and anti-viral properties.

Freeman has received much recognition for his work in the field of physical organic chemistry. He was named an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow and a Fulbright-Hayes Senior Research Fellow. He also had the opportunity to serve as a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry and the University of Paris. Author of numerous academic papers, Freeman was identified as the third most highly cited African American chemist in a 2002 report by Oklahoma State University.

Fillmore Freeman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2011.

Accession Number

A2012.203

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/27/2012

Last Name

Freeman

Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

Central State University

Michigan State University

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Fillmore

Birth City, State, Country

Lexington

HM ID

FRE06

Favorite Season

None

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, Berlin, Germany, Spain

Favorite Quote

The time before memories.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/10/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Organic chemist and chemistry professor Fillmore Freeman (1936 - ) joined the faculty of California State University in 1973. He has conducted significant research in the field of physical organic chemistry, particularly in the synthesis and structural understanding of potential anti-tumor and anti-viral compounds.

Employment

University of California, Irvine

California State University, Long Beach

California Research Corporation

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Université de Paris VII

Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles

Max-Planck-Institut

Favorite Color

Blue, Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fillmore Freeman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about segregation and slavery in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his paternal family owning land in Mississippi, and his father's role as a Baptist minister

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his father's training to become a Baptist minister

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his parents moving to Chicago, his mother's death, his father remarrying, and his four siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the socio-economic dynamics of skin color in the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about moving to Chicago when he was five years old, and his early experience there

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the Chicago public school system, and the condition of the city's housing projects in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about gang activity in Chicago in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about leaving Chicago in 1953

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman talks about graduating from elementary school and attending high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about attending his father's church as a child, and his perspective on religion

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his parents' employment in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his jobs as a youngster in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about Maxwell Street in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about playing basketball in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his academic performance in high school and the pressures of life for African Americans who lived in the housing projects

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman describes his studies and his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to attend Central State University, and his involvement in the ROTC Program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his professors at Central State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about Charles Wesley, HistoryMaker, Alice Windom, and segregation in Wilberforce and Xenia, Ohio in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to pursue a doctoral degree at Michigan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman describes his Ph.D. dissertation on tetracyanocyclopropanes chemistry

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the interest in cyclopropane chemistry in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman describes being involved in a serious laboratory accident at Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his recovery from a serious laboratory accident in 1959 - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman talks about meeting his wife in Chicago, and getting married in 1959

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his recovery from a serious laboratory accident in 1959 - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to work at Standard Oil of California, and his experience there

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University and his decision to work at California State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the lack of African American faculty and students at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his sabbatical at the University of Paris, and accepting a tenured position at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman describes his research on using chemical compounds to combat Chagas disease

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his involvement with NOBCChE

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in Paris in 1972

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Fillmore Freeman describes the university system in California

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his early research in synthetic organic chemistry, screening chemical compounds against HIV, and his work on carbenes

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his sabbatical at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his experience on sabbatical at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and at Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles in France

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the African American demographics at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about serving as a visiting scientist and program director of organic and macromolecular chemistry at the NSF in 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his research in the area of organosulfur chemistry, and his collaboration with Professor Eloy Rodriguez

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the health benefits of garlic and its component compounds - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the health benefits of garlic and its component compounds - part two

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his report on the properties of di-tert-butyl chromate in the Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the dwindling number of African American faculty in chemistry departments across the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman describes the field of computational chemistry, and its applications in medicine and in the pharmaceutical industry

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman shares his perspectives on the impact of computers on society and the future of physical organic chemistry

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his work to promote undergraduate chemistry research and his goals for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman reflects upon his career and his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his hobbies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman shares how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Fillmore Freeman describes his research in the area of organosulfur chemistry, and his collaboration with Professor Eloy Rodriguez
Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to work at Standard Oil of California, and his experience there
Transcript
So it seems in 1991, it seems you received a grant of $507,750 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study tropical plants in Latin America and Africa that fight various fungal diseases, viruses and--$$Yeah, but that was in conjunction with Professor Eloy Rodriguez who was in the School of Bio [Biological] Science, so it was a joint grant.$$Okay, all right, and this is something. Did you have much experience with folk remedies growing up?$$No.$$Okay.$$Well, not experience, but I knew about them. I mean if you got sick in the old neighborhood, there's no such thing as going to a doctor. Everybody had some kind of folk remedy, many of which did not work, but that's all you could have.$$I just wondered if your family had any folk remedies, you know, that you remembered growing up?$$No, the medicine I remember most of all is Vicks VapoRub because of the way it smelled, and they'd rub it on your chest, and that's supposed to cure you when you got sick or have a cold. But that was an interesting collaboration. He's at Cornell [University, New York] now, but we inadvertently become, became sort of world experts in organosulfur chemistry. And when I was in Germany, they had some money left over. And they asked me did I want to go to a conference. And so I looked around, and in Yugoslavia, there was an organosulfur conference. And so I decided, hey, they want me to go so I will go. So I went to this conference which was on the Adriatic Sea. It's a place called Portoroz, and it's just like California. This was when Tito [President Marshal Tito] was still in power in Yugoslavia. But it was just capitalism. It was a tourist place. But it was, after being in Germany for that winter, it was so nice to get to this warm coast. And these sulfur chemists were arguing about a particular reaction intermediate called an alphadisulfoxide. So, you know, I just said, well, we'll just, we can just oxidize this and oxidize that because we know how to oxidize things. So everybody just laughed. So I came back to the [United] States after Germany. And there was a graduate student, Christos Angeletakis, a Greek fellow. And he wanted to do research with me. And we were looking for this elusive intermediate, the alphadisulfoxide. And one way to do that is to work at very low temperatures so you could (unclear) the rate of reactivity. And we were looking and we were looking. We couldn't get any spectroscopic evidence for it. But finally we did. So we became the first ones to identify or to build an alphadisulfoxide. And so we got into sulfur chemistry. Now, to get back to Professor Rodriguez, he's the big world's expert on plant chemists, chemistry. Now, there is this lady, Goodall, who studied the chimpanzee,--$$Yeah, Jane Goodall.$$You're right. Well, when she was studying some of these chimpanzees, she noted that they would eat leaves from a certain plant. They would just keep the leaves in their mouths. They wouldn't chew it. They'd spit it out. Some of them swallowed it. And so it turned out that some Canadian chemist was interested in this, Professor Rodriguez. And so they started isolating the chemical components of this particular plant. And it turns out that the significant component was some brilliant red compound. It had a six-membered ring and all kinds of things on the side. But in the six-membered ring, they had two sulfur atoms. So since we were thought to be world experts on organosulfur chemistry, and that's when I started collaborating with Professor Rodriguez. Again, all unplanned, but, you know, we've done a lot of sulfur chemistry.$Now, what did you do between '62 [1962] and '64 [1964]?$$I worked for Standard Oil of California. This is in the Bay Area [San Francisco, California], and it's a little--there's Berkeley and next to Berkeley is a little town called Richmond. And next to that, there's a bridge that goes from Richmond over to Marin County. And that's where the Standard Oil refinery was. At that time, Standard Oil had a lot of administrative offices over on Bush Street in San Francisco. And so I worked there for two years, and one of the reasons I went to work there was because they promised that we were gonna do basic research as opposed to industrial research. Well, there were about eleven of us in basic research. And that lasts for six months. After that, as with any big company, profits drive everything. And so we used to have these, what we called "dog and pony" shows where the people from Bush Street would come over, and we'd tell 'em what we're doing. And all they wanna know is how much money is that gonna make us. And so basically, during that two-year period, almost all of us had moved over, moved from basic research over to some industrial routine kind of work. And out of the eleven of us, nine of us left, and became professors somewhere in the United States because, again, we had wanted to do basic research. In industry, at that time, Standard Oil was one of the big people in the detergent industry because when they would crack petroleum to get these low molecular weight compounds, we all alkanes, and they could just put--and alkenes, and they could just put a sulfonate group on it. So you needed alkane, alkene that's nonpolar and a sulfonate group that's polar. So this is how you make suds and things. The non-polar part gets out the dirt and the oil and the polar part (unclear) solubility. But these things would not break down easily in the environment. Streams were getting blocked and plugged up, and so we were just looking for ways to improve making those, but also to make alternatives. So what you would do is to run a reaction and then you have to try all different concentrations. So it's routine, the same thing. Then you'd try different temperatures. Then you'd add, change one reagent, and so industrial chemistry is necessary from the profit motive. But intellectually, it's not very challenging. It's very routine. And so that's when I left to go back to Yale [University, New Haven, Connecticut] when I got a National Institutes of Health [NIH] post-doctoral fellowship.$$Okay, this is in 1964?$$Right.$$Okay, so this is a post-doc at Yale University in New Haven [Connecticut]. And--$$Now, the California Research Corporation eventually became the Chevron Research Corporation. And so--$$Oh, the California, I mean the Standard Oil?$$Right, the California Research Corporation was the research arm of Standard Oil.$$Okay.$$And so now it is the Chevron Research Corporation. And, of course, getting a job there was a big deal because growing up in Chicago [Illinois], I had always wanted to live in California. But that was also part of the big migration in the United States to the West. And there were not many jobs for chemists at that time. Shell had a facility at Emeryville which is north of San Francisco. And in Albany, California, there was a government lab. So basically, those three labs, California Research Corporation, Shell and the government lab were the only ones that were hiring people. So everybody was trying to get to the West Coast. And that's when I was in Detroit [Michigan]. I went from Lansing [Michigan] to Detroit. It was 13 [degree Fahrenheit] below [zero]. Got to San Francisco. This is in January on my interview trip. And they were having a heat wave. It was 88 degrees. Now, even since being a little kid, growing up in Chicago, I know I'm going to California. And that trip just solidified everything. There's no way I wanted to live back in the Midwest or where there was cold weather.

James Shoffner

Organic chemist James Shoffner was born on January 14, 1928 and raised on a rural plantation in New Madrid, Missouri. Shoffner's segregated school was open only five months a year; the rest of the time was reserved for growing cotton. He transferred to a boarding school in Kansas City, Missouri where he was first introduced to chemistry and biology. However, Shoffner still had to help in the cotton fields and school for him did not begin until late November. He attended Lincoln University for a year before joining the United States Army, where he earned tuition benefits through the G.I. Bill. After completing his military service, Shoffner returned to college and received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in 1951.

Following graduation, Shoffner worked at the United States Post Office before returning to school and earning his M.S. degree in organic chemistry from DePaul University. Schoffner worked at a local paint company before being hired as a carbohydrate researcher at Corn Products International. After six years, Shoffner returned to graduate school to pursue his doctoral degree in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1965, Shoffner joined Universal Oil Products Company (UOP) where he would spend the next thirty-six years working in petroleum chemistry, specifically studying NMR spectroscopy and additives for plastics. Shoffner started a second career with the American Chemical Society (ACS) becoming active in the Division of Petroleum Chemistry. He held a series of positions in ACS' Chicago Section including serving as a board member and co-chair of Project SEED, a program to help disadvantaged students pursue a career in chemistry. He became a councilor of the ACS in 1974. In 1993, Shoffner retired from Universal Oil Products and joined Columbia College in Chicago as a science professor and science education consultant. In 2006, Shoffner organized the American Chemical Society conference honoring the famed chemist, Percy L. Julian. He was also instrumental in the development and served as a consultant for the 2007 PBS NOVA program, Forgotten Genius , about the life of Percy L. Julian.

James Shoffner has been active with the American Chemical Society for over forty years and received his thirty-year councilor plaque in 2005. Shoffner was awarded the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences and the Henry Hill Award. Shoffner lives in Elk Grove, Illinois.

James P. Shoffner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.116

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/18/2012

Last Name

Shoffner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Lincoln University

DePaul University

University of Illinois at Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

New Madrid

HM ID

SHO02

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California, San Francisco, California, New York City, New York

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/14/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Short Description

Organic chemist James Shoffner (1928 - ) worked as a research chemist at Universal Oil Products and has dedicated over forty years of service to the American Chemical Society including serving on the national board of directors.

Employment

United States Postal Service

Corn Products International

Universal Oil Products

Columbia College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6499,103:30180,304:30605,311:41704,450:52810,544:58130,625:67565,736:80157,882:80562,888:83883,930:101093,1156:105282,1232:105850,1242:120560,1384:128530,1449:129270,1460:132674,1516:139408,1630:147454,1708:149896,1756:163300,1863:166920,1871:170160,1911:170608,1919:171120,1941:203940,2214:217048,2371:218561,2403:220697,2473:223278,2524:223990,2533:232180,2570:238712,2597:239024,2603:239336,2608:239648,2613:256386,2795:274380,2991:274968,3000:275556,3008:280008,3114:282192,3152:293302,3285:293876,3293:300436,3414:314914,3595:317202,3624:317642,3630:333937,3766:341690,3833$0,0:7854,71:18306,138:47732,479:48202,485:49142,501:57910,567:72290,658:73330,669:77622,718:78374,728:79784,737:81570,759:84610,770:91544,831:92318,842:110284,1057:110740,1065:111196,1072:113096,1103:113628,1112:114084,1120:122064,1240:122824,1255:128244,1288:133305,1332:133900,1342:155410,1447:155674,1453:157060,1474:157324,1479:158248,1497:158578,1503:163478,1552:180292,1760:180687,1766:181793,1780:185664,1835:189296,1859:191360,1867:192530,1889:192920,1897:193765,1914:194545,1929:198460,1960:200990,1985:201430,1990:202750,2003:206540,2038:208002,2058:240495,2407:242875,2435:254770,2565:259620,2640:262045,2655:268360,2700:269710,2719:271960,2759:278422,2808:280060,2832
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Shoffner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Shoffner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Shoffner describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his mother's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Shoffner describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Shoffner describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Shoffner describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about the seismic activity of New Madrid, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his siblings and his childhood home in New Madrid, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Shoffner describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Shoffner talks about growing up in the church

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Shoffner talks about working in the fields

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Shoffner talks about his elementary school experience, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his elementary school experience, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about listening to radio during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his high school experience, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Shoffner remembers his introduction into chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to attend Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his peers and his experience at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his studies at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about his experience serving in the Army, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his experience serving in the Army, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his mentor, Dr. Monty Taylor

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Shoffner reflects on his aspirations to be a medical doctor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his graduate school pursuits and how he met his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his work at Corn Products Refining Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Shoffner considers the health concerns of corn by-products

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to pursue his Ph.D. and his experience at Johnsteen Paint and Varnish Company

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his dissertation on the structure of pyridinium compounds

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about meeting Percy Julian

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about Percy Julian's scientific contributions and NOBCChE

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to join Universal Oil Products

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about Project SEED

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his patents, part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his appointment as Councillor to the American Chemical Society

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his patents, part 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his professional affiliations and black scientific organizations

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Shoffner reflects on his career at Universal Oil Products

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about the nation's discourse about science policy and education in the U.S.

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about teaching at Columbia College

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Shoffner reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
James Shoffner talks about his work at Corn Products Refining Company
James Shoffner talks about his patents, part 1
Transcript
Alright, so you lived in Lawndale [Illinois] and had to commute to Argo, Illinois working for the corn starch. What kinds of products were you all trying to form from, I mean from corn starch?$$Okay, well, I did a lot of work with dextrose or glucose. We were trying to, they were trying to make glucose into a commercial product beyond, beyond just selling it as Dextrose. You can still, you know, go to the drugstore, and--I guess you can, and buy dextrose, you know. That's just a simple sugar, and it's not as sweet as sucrose which is the table sugar that we, cooking sugar that we use. But dextrose is a product which, which they made and still do I guess, and sell, but they sold it as dextrose. And it, you know, it wasn't that much of a market because it's not sweet enough to be a substitute for, for table sugar. And, of course, there had always, there had been attempts going back a hundred years, 200 years to try to convert glucose to fructose and everybody tries a little bit of that. But they're still doing it with not too much success. It's only going to go so far, and it'll stop, and you'll get a, what's sort of an equilibrium mixture with a whole lot of other stuff in it. So you can't make a saleable product trying to convert glucose to fructose. But everybody tries it at some time or another so I did a little bit of that. And we also did some, some glucose reduction, and not--and that's probably still done and sold as a commercial product. Out of that, you get Sorbitol, that's the main reduction product you get from glucose. And so everybody gets, gets introduced to that.$$Now, what is, I'm sorry. What is Sorbitol used for?$$Huh?$$What is Sorbitol used for?$$Oh, you know, I don't know what the big use is for it now. It's used in some formulations, some--you know, I really don't know what they--I don't recall it. It used to be used in cigarettes to a certain extent, certain tobacco products used to put, used to have a little Sorbitol in them. But it's been a long time since I followed up on, on what the sugars are, or what sugars like sorbitol are used for. But if, if you look on some--I, I don't recall now. It's been too long ago (laughter). But, you know, we did little work on that, on reducing sugars and reducing starches and things like that. And I did some work on caramel products. I worked on caramel for a while.$$Now, this is caramel that you put on popcorn here in Chicago [Illinois] and that sort of thing?$$Huh?$$The same caramel we put on popcorn?$$It might be. It's slightly different probably. Carmel is a very complex product, and so we were, they were making it at that time and selling it, I suppose. I think they were selling the product that Coca-Cola uses for coloring.$$Okay.$$And that's one of the ways in which it's used. So I worked on that for a couple of years and did, did I think, you know, some very fine work on it. They were very sorry to see me leave because I was, I had, I had begun to, to break caramel down to find out exactly what was in it. It's a mass of stuff in it (laughter), but they don't, they don't use much of it. You can take a drop of caramel and cover, and color, you know, a barrel of Coca-Cola with it. So.$$So this is caramel coloring then--$$Um-hum.$$--primarily, right?$$Huh?$$This is caramel coloring you're talking about?$$Yeah, right. And they put it in a lot of, a lot of different products. And, and so I did work on that, and find, I found out some of the products that were in there. There's a million in there, but we were just, I wasn't going to discover all of 'em, but I had, for the first time, I think, for the first time laid out what the, what the, what it looked like, what the products looked like in terms of a chromatographic exposure. And we had found out just that it was, it was just a monstrous number of them.$In 1972, you had an important, a product, I mean process patented, the manufacture of n-2-arylthiazole [sulfonamides] (laughter), I don't know if I can say it. But can you help me out here. What are we talking about?$$Oh, I think that's when I was doing some work on rubber at that time, rubber accelerators and it's part of the vulcanization process. UOP [Universal Oil Products], although its main business has been the development of oil, of oil products and methods for, for their production, you know, it's always been big in developing catalyst that could make gasoline, for example or some kind of petroleum products. But it's also been active in, in developing materials for other purposes. And so there are a number of areas of organic synthesis and production that UOP has contributed toward. You know, you just can't be focused on doing one thing. If you do, you're liable to find yourself out of business. And so UOP has always been a company, and I'm saying UOP now because that's what I'm most familiar with, and although it's a part of, of a bigger, larger corporation now, particularly, when you take me back to 1972, it's, it's UOP then. It's all UOP. That's what I was, that was the company that I was hired by, and I was working for at that time. And I was doing some, some good synthesis at that time, and good, very good process work at that time. And so, these, these compounds were good accelerators for rubber. Now, as you know, when you make, well, they were accelerators which prevented scorch. It might be called anti-scorch products. And you could, you could vulcanize the rubber if you're making tires or whatever you were doing. You were, you were curing, curing the rubber and you'd have to use various curing agents. And these, these materials, by having what we would call aromatic amines as a part of them, could cure rubber without causing it to undergo what we call scorch, and therefore, you would get tires which would be much more structured--be more structurally sound and would last longer if you would use materials that are anti-scorch agents. And one of the reasons that rubber products undergo what's called starch is that--scorch, is that you usually have to cure them, cure the rubber with protective agents. And so these protective agents are usually amines. And those amines, although you know you need them in there, particularly, the phenylene diamine and aromatic a-mean derivatives that you, that you have in there. You know you need them in there as antioxidants and anti--and, and anti- [?] but you don't want their scorch. You don't want it to scorch. So if you put in an accelerator which slows it down, you can inhibit some of the scorch and therefore, get the kind of structural build up in the tire that you want to have. And that will cause it to last a whole lot longer.

Jeannette Brown

Organic chemist and historian, Jeannette E. Brown was born in Bronx, New York on May 13, 1934 to Freddie Brown, a building superintendant and Ada Brown. At age six, Brown was inspired by her family doctor, Arthur C. Logan, to pursue a career in science. Brown graduated from New Dorp High School on Staten Island in 1952 and in 1956, she received her B.S. degree in chemistry from Hunter College as one of two African Americans in the first class of Hunter College's new chemistry program. Brown then earned her M.S. degree in organic chemistry in 1958 from the University of Minnesota and was the first African American female to do so. Her thesis was entitled, “Study of Dye and Ylide Formation in Salts of 9-(P-dimethylaminophenyl) Flourene.”

After earning her M.S. degree, Brown joined CIBA Pharmaceutical Company as a research chemist, where she developed drugs for diseases such as tuberculosis and coccidiosis, which afflicts chickens. In 1969, Brown was hired by Merck & Co. Research Laboratories where she continued synthesizing compounds for testing as potential new drugs. In 1986, she was appointed chairperson of the Project SEED Committee for the American Chemical Society. She served on the faculty at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) from 1993 to 2002 as a visiting professor of chemistry and faculty associate. Beginning in 1998, Brown also served as the regional director of the New Jersey Statewide System Initiative, improving science education in Essex and Hudson counties. In 2008, Brown contributed seven biographies of African American chemists for the African American National Biography, including those of Dr. Marie Daly and Dr. Jennie Patrick, the first African American women to receive their Ph.D. degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, respectively. She went on to publish her own book in 2011 entitled, African American Women Chemists .

Brown has received recognition including outstanding alumni awards from both Hunter College and the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, she has been involved in countless professional societies including the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCCHE) and the American Chemical Society (ACS). In 2007, Brown was an Association of Women in Science (AWIS) fellow. She also earned recognition as an American Chemical Society fellow and a Chemical Heritage Foundation Ullyott Scholar.

Jeannette Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 01/16/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.010

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/16/2012

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Middle Name

E

Occupation
Schools

New Dorp High School

Hunter College

University of Minnesota

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jeannette

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BRO51

Favorite Season

Winter

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

101 years ago.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

5/13/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hillsborough

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Organic chemist Jeannette Brown (1934 - ) is the first African American woman to earn an M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota's chemistry department and is the author of, 'African American Women Chemists'.

Employment

CIBA Pharmaceutical Company

Merck & Co.

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jeannette Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown describes her mother's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about her mother's education and work experience

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown describes her father's history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jeannette Brown talks about racism in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jeannette Brown discusses her father's education and work experience

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jeannette Brown describes her parents' early life together

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jeannette Brown describes her relationship with her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown remembers the her early childhood years

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown talks about having tuberculosis and her early interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown reminisces about her early school days in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown talks about Winthrop Junior High School and growing up in New York's Flatbush area

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jeannette Brown remembers her time at Prospect Heights High School and New Dorp High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown talks about her study of science in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown talks about preparing for college and deciding which college to attend

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown talks about studying chemistry at Hunter College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about why she chose to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown discusses her research and her discovery of liquid crystals

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown remembers the racial climate in Minnesota in 1958

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown describes attitudes about blacks and women at University of Minnesota in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown talks about her days in the laboratory at Ciba Pharmaceuticals

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about the history of the United States chemical industry

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown tells about her career at Merck Pharmaceuticals

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown describes her work on Primaxin at Merck Pharmaceuticals

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown reflects on her work as a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown talks about NOBCChE, Dr. Marie Daley, and her interest in history

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about her difficulty at Merck Pharmaceuticals, including an adverse physical reaction

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown describes the atmosphere at Merck Pharmaceuticals and mentoring other black female chemists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jeannette Brown talks about her work at Merck Pharmaceuticals to attract more African Americans chemists

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown talks about students she met at Grambling State University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown talks about her induction into Iota Sigma Pi Honor Society

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown talks about her work with the American Chemical Society and economically disadvantaged youth

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about her work with the National Science Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown discusses the Percy Julian Task Force and the research for her book

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jeannette Brown talks about the female scientists featured in her book about Africaa American Female Chemists

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jeannette Brown shares the response to her book and need for science education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jeannette Brown talks about the need for quality science education

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jeannette Brown reflects on the ethical responsibility of chemists

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jeannette Brown talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jeannette Brown reflects on her career, her successes, and her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jeannette Brown talks about her family life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jeannette Brown talks about her hobbies

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jeannette Brown tells how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jeannette Brown shares photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Jeannette Brown talks about having tuberculosis and her early interest in science
Jeannette Brown tells about her career at Merck Pharmaceuticals
Transcript
Okay, now, tell me if I'm moving ahead too fast, but I know at a certain juncture, you got sick, right? And --$$Oh, yeah, when I was a little--okay, we, as I might have said, we lived in Washington Heights, New York [New York], and we lived at 436 West 160th Street. And that's where my father [Freddie Brown] was super. At age four or five, I got very ill, and they put me in the hospital. Columbia University Medical School [New York, New York] had a place called Vanderbilt Clinic which is up in Washington Heights, where we used to go all the time. One of the doctors there, and I think, as I look back on it, Arthur Logan, he was an intern there at that time. But he lived in the house that we lived in. And so he was my doctor. They put me in Babies Hospital [Babies and Children's Hospital of New York, New York, New York]. I remember being in a crib. I thought I was in jail (laughter). I think I saw all the bars around me. And so when I got better, I think what I had was living in New York, I had Infantile TB [Tuberculosis]. I think that's what I had. But anyway, so living in New York, when I saw Dr. Logan later on, 'cause he lived in my building, I said, "Well, how do you become a scientist?" And, oh, no, "How do you become a doctor?" He said, "Oh, you study science," you know. And I have a picture, in fact, when I saw the five year olds at the Science Museum the other day, I said, Ah, they were that small and so was I. You know, I looked up at him, and I said, "Okay." And I decided that, yeah, Science was something that I'm gonna learn because I wanted to be a doctor like Dr. Logan.$$Now, was Dr. Logan a black doctor?$$Um-hum.$$Okay.$$Yeah, Arthur Logan. There is a wing of Harlem Hospital [Harlem Hospital Center, New York, New York] named for him.$$Okay.$$I now talk to his--Adele Logan was his daughter, and they lived in the house. And she was about two or three years younger than I am. And we've met as adults. And I've got a, I've got to tell her that my book is out. I have, you know, because I've met, I've talked to her since. And she's a writer too.$$Okay, Adele--$$Adele Logan, yeah.$$Okay.$$Adele, I'm wanna think of what her married name is, oh, Adele Logan Alexander. That's her married name.$$What kind of books does she write?$$She wrote history. She's a historian. And she wrote her family history in, on her mother's side, not on her father's side.$$Okay, all right, all right. Okay, so then were you consciously thinking of concentrating on Science when you were in school then, as a result of that?$$Yeah, somehow or other, it's--I don't know. He [Dr. Arthur Logan] must have made an impression on me, and I decided, oh, yes, Science sounds like fun. The, where we lived in forty--in the Washington Heights, the library was right across the street. So I would go there for story hour. And my mother would take me across the street. It was, it wasn't a very big, you know, big street with a lot of traffic. And we'd go for story hour. And later on in years, I would go to the library, I started looking up books about what they called space at the time because there was no space travel. And as we moved from house to house 'cause my father, as I said, would get the job as a superintendent. And that included an apartment. So when he would lose that job, he would get to another job. We went to the Bronx [New York], and when I was in third grade. And I remember this, in third-grade class that I lived in--that I had there, was the Science room. So I sat right next to the fish, the goldfish bowl. I had goldfish too that I worked on as a Scientist. I think I killed 'em. And so we moved to the Bronx, and then the next job was in Brooklyn [New York]. So we moved to Brooklyn, and I was still interested in Science and things like that. So we had two jobs in Brooklyn that my father, you know, my father was the superintendent, the super's kid. And, but I was still, you know, I wanted to learn, and I wanted to be a scientist because I wanted to be a doctor. So I was always interested in, you know, learning everything there was to learn. One of the reasons why we moved out of Manhattan to the Bronx was the first grade--well, I, we skipped kindergarten.$$$Okay, well, tell us about Merck?$$Yeah, well, one of the reasons why I got to Merck was one of the women who worked with me in Ciba, her husband was a manager at Merck. And he was--this was, the Civil Rights Act had come. He was mandated to go out and look for African Americans in Science. Well, I said, well, I wanted to change jobs. So I was talking to my girlfriend, and she says, "Oh, I'll ask my husband." And so she did. And he brought me in for an interview. And they really wanted me. They wanted me, I guess, also because of my--I had, by that time I had some publications, I guess, from Ciba or pretty close and my expertise. But when I looked, later on when I looked at my personnel file, which I could, the very first page, which they forgot to take off, said, "to be filled by an African American", and I went "Umm". And the woman who was showing it to me happened to be, the personnel, head of personnel, an African American woman chemist. And she, she nearly died that they had forgotten to take that page out, the first page. But anyway, so I was hired at Merck. And all the guys said, oh, well, you came in as a legacy because of the Civil Rights. And, no, I came because of my, you know, my credentials, you know. I could do independent research, and while I was there I did. I mean what I liked about Merck was they would give me a project, and, you know, we all work in teams. So I would be, I would have a piece of the project that the team was going to work on. And you're gonna work, mostly I liked to do cyclopropyl compounds 'cause I had done that at Ciba. And so, okay, you'll do the cyclopropyl derivative. And so I would go off and study how to make this compound and come up with a plan and try to implement the plan. We would get together in group meetings and I'd get some advice from my bosses or the other members of the group. But most of the time in the lab, we were just doing our own thing. When we got together with a group, then they would say, okay, do this, do that, do other things. Once we got a target and a compound, then we'd just go do it and come up with it--and later on in our career, we started to have deadlines because it was management by objectives. And so we had to have objectives and by the year--by the third quarter, we will have, and by the fourth quarter, we will have. And we needed to have compounds ready for the biologists to test by Friday. Okay, if my compound is not ready, you know, totally analyzed and ready to go by Friday--well, if I didn't think it was gonna be there by Friday, I, you know, just worked, you know. You'd go in the labs, you know, 24 hours or whatever, Saturday, Sunday or whatever, to get the job done 'cause I had to have it there for the biologist who was gonna do the tests. And he was ready with--and he or she were ready with their animals or whatever they want to test it on.$$Okay, what kinds of things did you work on--well, let me pause here for a second. And then we'll pick up after--.

Samuel Massie

Organic Chemist Samuel Massie was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on July 3, 1919; his mother, a teacher, and his father, a minister, instilled in him a love of education. By the age of thirteen, Massie had graduated from high school. Because he was denied admittance to the University of Arkansas because of his race, Massie went on to attend Agricultural Mechanical Normal College of Arkansas. He then attended Fisk University before being accepted to Iowa State University, where he received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry.

Massie attended Iowa State University at the height of World War II; during this time, he was summoned before the draft board. Massie was allowed to return to school, but he was assigned to the Manhattan Project, the program that created the first atomic bomb. After completing his Ph.D., Massie returned to Fisk University to teach; it was here that he met his future wife, Gloria. Over the years, Massie held positions at Langston University, Howard University, and the National Science Foundation. In 1963, Massie was named president of the University of North Carolina Central.

In 1966, Massie became the first African American professor at the U.S. Naval Academy; he then served as chair of the chemistry department from 1977 to 1981. In 1994, Massie retired from the Naval Academy, though he retained the title professor emeritus.

Massie was awarded with an NAACP Freedom Fund Award; a White House Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award; and was named one of the seventy-five outstanding scientists in the country by Chemical and Engineering News Magazine. Massie was also involved with the Smithsonian Institute, and spent more than two decades on the Maryland State Board for Community Colleges.

Samuel Massie passed away on April 10, 2005, three months after the passing of his wife, Gloria.

Accession Number

A2003.161

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/19/2003

Last Name

Massie

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

P.

Organizations
Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior College

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Fisk University

Iowa State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Samuel

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

MAS03

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do the best you can with what you have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/3/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Watermelon, Chicken

Death Date

4/10/2005

Short Description

Chemistry professor and organic chemist Samuel Massie (1919 - 2005 ) was the first African American professor at the Naval Academy. Massie also worked on the Manhattan Project earlier in his career.

Employment

Langston University Chemistry Department

Fisk University Chemistry Department

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Howard University Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department

North Carolina Central University

United States Naval Academy Chemistry Department

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Navy Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Massie

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Massie's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Massie recalls his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Massie relates the importance of education in his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Massie describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Massie shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Massie recalls his school days in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Massie discusses his options after graduating from high school at thirteen

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Massie recalls his time at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Massie describes his experiences at Fisk University

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Massie describes his experiences at Iowa State University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Massie discusses his work with the Manhattan Project

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Massie recounts being the first black to work for Eastman Kodak Company

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Massie remembers the Manhattan Project

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Massie discusses his post-graduate career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Massie recalls meeting Martin Luther King

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Massie discusses a potential biography

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Massie becomes the first black professor at the U.S. Naval Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Massie discusses his accomplishments at the U.S. Naval Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Massie discusses an elementary school being named in his honor

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Massie lists his honors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel Massie considers how he'd like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Samuel Massie discusses his honors in the field of chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Samuel Massie discusses the importance of black colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Samuel Massie discusses his tenure as the Chairman for the Maryland State Board of Community Colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Samuel Massie remembers his work at Eastman Kodak Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Photo - Samuel Massie as a child with his father, Samuel P. Massie, Sr., and mother, Earlee Taylor Massie, ca. 1921

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Photo - Samuel Massie with his wife, Gloria Massie, ca. 1998

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Photo - Samuel Massie with his wife, Gloria Massie, at a formal event, ca. 1998

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Photo - Samuel Massie with his mother, Earlee Taylor Massie, and his brother, Jack Massie, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Photo - Samuel Massie in his chemistry lab at the U.S. Naval Academy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Photo - Samuel Massie with his wife, Gloria Massie, at the U.S. Naval Academy, ca. 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo - Samuel Massie's three sons, James Massie, Herbert Massie, and Trei Massie, ca. 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Samuel Massie in a portrait, ca. 1993