Arthur Becket Lamb, 1880-1952

Publication Year: 1953.



Arthur Lamb, a member of our Club for 29 years, died suddenly on 15 May 1952 while on his way home from Harvard Chemical Laboratory. He was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, of New England parentage and studied at Tufts College and Harvard University, following which he went to Germany for post-doctorate studies. Later he became Professor of Chemistry, Director of the

Chemical Laboratories and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1940-43) at Harvard. He retired from the directorship in 1947 and continued as Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Lamb climbed in the Alps where his record included ascents of Zuckerhütl, Wilder Pfaff, Wilder Freiger, Sonntags Scharten, Piz Morteratsch, Pers Icefall, Las Trais Fluors and Drei Rosen; and in the Canadian Rockies where he ascended Whyte, Temple, Aberdeen, The Mitre, Victoria, Lefroy and Collier. He spent a number of summers in Switzerland and in Western Canada.

As the years went by, Dr. Lamb’s occupation with his professional interests made increasing demands upon his time, because of his eminence in chemistry and particularly his conscientious and meticulous editorship of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a task to which he devoted himself for 33 years. Numerous chemists remember the care with which he wrote letters discussing manuscripts which they had submitted. Under his guidance, the Journal achieved the extraordinarily prominent and authoritative qualities which characterize it, and which have enabled it to stand as a record of the phenomenal growth of chemistry in the United States. Dr. Lamb was frequently called upon to furnish testimony in legal proceedings in which chemistry was involved. He was apt to remark that the exposures of mountain climbing were less unnerving than the experiences of the witness stand!

Dr. Lamb received many awards in chemistry, including the Nichols Medal, the Priestley Medal, the Austin M. Patterson Award, and the Ballou Medal. He was of a calm and friendly personality which complemented a mind of great activity. The writer remembers a long conversation with Dr. Lamb about mountaineering, during the International Chemical Congress in September 1951.

Arthur Lamb married Blanche Anne Driscoll in 1923, who died some years ago. Their children David and Deborah of Brookline, Massachusetts, survive them.

Thomas H. Jukes

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