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Davenport, Derek A. | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Davenport, Derek A.

Historical Note:

Dr. Derek A. Davenport was born in Leicester, England, and received his early education there and in London, earning the B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of London. Coming to the United States in 1950, he taught one year at Reed College and two years at Ohio State University before accepting a teaching position at Purdue University, where he was Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. He was particularly interested in undergraduate and beginning graduate teaching.

Professor Davenport was the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. In 1970 he won the Standard Oil Undergraduate Teaching Award, in 1973 he received the Visiting Scientist Award of the Western Connecticut Section of the American Chemical Society, and in 1974 the Manufacturing Chemists Association Award in Chemical Education.

In 1962-63 he spent a year in India helping in the establishment of the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, now a flourishing institution. A visit to Nigeria followed in 1964. And from January 1970 to June 1971 he was again at the Indian Institute of Technology. In March 1976 Professor Davenport was a Visiting Scholar at the University Center in Virginia, and later that year he was chosen Lecturer-of-the-Year by the Indiana Academy of Science.

Since 1966 he had served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Chemical Education. In 1979 he served as Chairman of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society and also as Chairman of the Purdue University Section of the ACS.

Professor Davenport radiated his enthusiasm for the history of chemistry. He possessed great personal warmth and was an exciting lecturer. He enjoyed a national reputation for his ability to bring to life through his dynamic lectures those scientists who were involved in the development of late eighteenth-century chemistry. Lavoisier, Priestley, Cooper, Thompson, Jefferson, Franklin, and Rush not only greatly influenced the emerging new science of chemistry, but each in his own way added something to the history and stature of the new American Republic.


(1980) Percy Lavon Julian Family Papers, Series III: Folder 4, Julian Memorial Lecture, Derek A. Davenport, April 10, 1980, Retrieved from: http://www.depauw.edu/library/archives/dpuinventories/julian_collection_s3_f4.htm

Purdue Univeristy Archives and Special Collections Oral History Program

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