Ralph Edward Oesper
Born in Cincinnati on June 14, 1886, Ralph E. Oesper first became interested in chemistry through the influence of his high school chemistry teach, Herman Newman, who had received a Ph.D. in Germany for work done under the direction of August Wilhelm Hofmann (1818-1892), a famous German chemist. This personal link with the past was the origin of Oesper's later interest in the history of chemistry and chemical biograph.
Oesper began his university training in chemistry at Purdue University and later transferred to the University of Cincinnati, where he received an A.B. degree in 1908, followed by an A.M. degree the next year. After two years working as an analytical chemist and as a high school chemistry teacher, he returned to the University of Cincinnati, where he completed his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1914 for work done under the direction of Lauder W. Jones (1869-1960). While finishing his doctorate, he also served as assistant professor of chemistry and German at the Ohio Mechanics Institute (which was later incorporated into the University of Cincinnati). After graduation, Oesper taught at New York University and Smith College before once again to the University of Cincinnati in 1918, first as an associate professor and then as a full professor.
An author and/or translator of over 300 papers and books in the history of chemistry and in the fields of colloid and analytical chemistry, Oesper was an active member of the ACS Division of the History of Chemistry since its inception and recipient of its first Dexter Award for his outstanding contributions to the field. Though Oesper formally retired in 1951, he remained active until his death at age 91 on Dec. 10,1977. His endowment to the University of Cincinnati funded the establishment of the Oesper Museum, Book, Journal and Print Collections in the History of Chemistry.