Three Generations of Professional Chemists

PHILIP SADTLER, F.A.I.C., who presided at the Open House held by Sadtler Research Laboratories, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa., June 24, is the third generation to head the 91 year old consulting firm, which was founded by his grandfather, Samuel P. Sadtler (1847-1923).

The recently completed, three-fold expansion of the laboratories at 3314-20 Spring Garden Street, was the occasion for the Open House. Space is now available for the installation of more equipment, including advanced nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus, to amplify the present facilities, which include differential thermal analysis, thermogravametric analysis, gas chromatography, infrared preparation techniques, computer storage, searching and retrieval of spectral data, among other services.

Samuel P. Sadtler, the founder, studied at Gettysburg College and Harvard under Wolcott Gibbs, and according to the custom of educated men of his day, went to Germany for postgraduate work, where he had such eminent professors as Robert Bunsen and Friedrich Wohler. On his return, he taught at Gettysburg for 2 years, then becoming professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Chemical industry was just beginning to develop in the U.S., and as one of the best informed industrial scientists of his day, Prof. Sadtler was soon in demand as a consultant in his spare time. One of his earliest consuIting projects was research on oil filtration for John D. Rockefeller.

Chemical literature in the U.S. was also in the embryo stage. Prof. Sadtler imported books on industrial chemistry from Germany, and then began to write his own texts. Meanwhile, he had added another professorship to his activities—this one at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. After 17 years with the University of Pennsylvania, he resigned, completed his well known Handbook of Industrial Chemistry, and devoted more time to consulting.

Prof. Sadtler was as interested in the profession as he was in science. He belonged to the scientific societies in Germany and England as well as to those in the U.S. At that time chemical engineering was not a separate discipline, and the closest subjects to it taught in the universities were "chemical technology" or "industrial chemistry." Prof. Sadtler and such outstanding scientists as C. F. Chandler, Edward Hart, William McMurtrie, Charles F. McKenna. and others to make 40 in number, founded The American Institute of Chemical Engineers, at the Engineers Club, in Philadelphia, June 24, 1908. Prof. Sadtler was chosen as its first president. He was also a founder of the Electrochemical Society and at The Chemists Club, New York, NY

The second generation to head the firm was Samuel S. Sadtler (1873-1954), who joined his father in consulting work in 1901, when the firm was renamed Samuel P. Sadtler & Son. Samuel S. Sadtler also continued the scientific literature tradition started by his father and was one of the first editors of Chemical Abstracts and of Allen’s Industrial Analysis. Many well-known products were developed during this period. Samuel S. Sadtler also introduced the then new concept of pH to the Philadelphia area, which improved numerous products, including Celotex. The Sadtlers were also sought after for testimony in legal cases concerned with chemical products. They examined whiskeys for the Association of American Distillers; they proved that Coca-Cola did not contain cocaine or similar alkaloids.

Philip Sadtler F.A.I.C., whose alma mater is Lehigh University, became president of Sadtler Research Laboratories in 1947. The laboratories are now said to be one of the best equipped commercial laboratories in the world, and they have clients in 40 countries. Many new products have been developed during the years. For example, the late Dr. Franklin D. Jones, F.A.I.C., a staff member of Sadtler until his recent death, materially advanced the field of hormones and invented "2-4-D" and other plant hormones.

Continuing the tradition of publication, the Spectroscopy Department, in the 1940’s, began the publication of the Sadtler Catalogs of Absorption Spectra, now used internationally. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectra and Differential Thermal Analysis thermograms are recent additions to these collections. In addition to their normal scientific usefulness, Donald G. Slavin M.A.I.C., vice president of the laboratories, says that "numerous crimes have been solved, criminals convicted, and innocent men set free, by the employment of Sadtler Spectra."

The traditional interest in the profession also continues to be characteristic of Sadtler laboratories. In addition to membership in many scientific societies, practically all of the consulting staff of chemists are members of the ERIC and are also "Professional Chemists—Accredited" by the AIC.

The dynasty of Sadtlers does not end with Philip. We understand that another Sadtler, the fourth generation, is just starting out in the firm, which augers well for the future.

Reprinted from THE CHEMIST,

September, 1965, pp. 349-50