Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

1900 to World War II:

Julius Stieglitz: A Pioneering Chemist Who Aided The War

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Julius Stieglitz was very active in World War I developing war gases, dyes, and chemicals for the American military forces. He served as chairman of the committee on synthetic drugs of the National Research Council.

Stieglitz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on May 26, 1867, the son of Hedwig and Edward Stieglitz, German immigrants who were successful in the woolen business in New York City. He and his identical twin brother, Leopold, attended private and public schools in their early years. They received higher education in Germany, with Julius going in for chemistry and his brother electing to go into medicine. Julius Stieglitz and his brother looked so much alike that many had trouble telling them apart. Even when it came to marriage, their likes were similar: they both fell in love with sisters and married them.

Julius became a full professor at the University of Chicago in 1905 and served as chairman of the chemistry department from 1915 until he retired in 1933. He also served on committees for the guidance of doctoral candidates. He had a great influence in the field of chemistry through his writings and lectures, and did a great deal of research in organic chemistry. Stieglitz developed a self-taught understanding of the principles of physical chemistry, which created a new branch of science. His book The Elements of Qualitative Analysis, written in 1911, opened up new avenues for scientists to investigate in chemistry.

Stieglitz was recognized for his many contributions to chemistry when he was elected president of the American Chemical Society in 1917. He also received the prestigious Willard Gibbs Medal. He received many other honors, including honorary degrees from Clark University and the University of Pittsburgh, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His wife, Anna, died in 1932. Two years later, he married Mary Rising, a former graduate student who became a member of the chemistry department at the University of Chicago. They had two children, who later became successful physicians.

Stieglitz had many interests in life, including photography, music, sports and a love for the cello. He had a photographic mind that could reveal all kinds of statistics and data relating to sports and trivia.

Stieglitz, who died of pneumonia at the age of 69, will always be remembered for his scientific contributions to World War I and to the field of chemistry.

This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.

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