Theodore William Richards

  • From:

    Harvard University │ Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Year:

    1916

  • Subject:

    Chemistry

  • Award:

    Franklin

  • Citation:

    For important contributions to chemistry, particularly the redeterminations of the atomic weights of the more important chemical elements.

Theodore William Richards was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1868. He attended Haverford College in 1883, and graduated two years later with a degree in science. Following Haverford, he attended Harvard University until 1888. Following his degree work, he spent a year in Germany studying further, and on his return to Harvard he was appointed Assistant in Chemistry. He successively became Instructor (1891), Assistant Professor (1894) and Professor (1901); in 1901 he also declined an offer of a full professorship in the University of Gottingen. In 1903, he became Chairman of the Department of Chemistry at Harvard and in 1912 he was appointed Erving Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory.

Richards was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry, honoring his work with accurate determinations of atomic weights--twenty-five in all, including those used to determine virtually all other atomic weights. His work, which he began publishing in 1887, corrected earlier studies done in the 1860s by Jean Servais Stas. Among other contributions, Richards provided the experimental verification of the isotope concept, showing that lead from different sources has different atomic weights.

Information as of 1916