Paul M. Gross papers, 1939-1979
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- Gross, Paul Magnus, 1895-1986
- Contains the personal and professional records of Paul Magnus Gross, a Duke University administrator, researcher, educator, and scholar. Gross was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1919-1920), William H. Pegram Professor of Chemistry (1920-1965), Chair of the Chemistry Department (1921-1948), Dean of the Graduate School (1947-1952), Dean of the University (1952-1958), and Vice-President in the Educational Division (1949-1960). The Paul M. Gross Chemistry Laboratory was named in his honor. Gross was also an independent consultant with the United States Army and various commercial companies. Types of materials include correspondence, clippings, reports, research papers, meeting notes, conference materials, contracts, speeches, dedications, eulogies, lecture notes, financial information, postcards, and building plans. Major subjects include Duke University, the Graduate School, the Department of Chemistry, University Council, the Board of Trustees, University Research Council, Duke University administration, University Committee on Long-Range Planning, Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, study and teaching of physical sciences, military training, war education, munitions development, United States Navy, United States Army, Office of Ordnance Research, universities in the southern United States, and the Gross-Edens controversy. Major correspondents include J. Deryl Hart, Robert Lee Flowers, Douglas M. Knight, Marcus Hobbs, Charles E. Jordan, and Arthur Hollis Edens. Materials range in date from 1935-1979. English.
- 60 Linear Feet
- Collection ID:
- University Archives Record Group:
- 05 -- Office of the Provost
05 -- Office of the Provost > 53 -- Paul M. Gross
- Scope and content:
Contains the personal and professional papers of Paul M. Gross. Gross served as a leader of many national scientific organizations. At Duke University, he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1919-1920), William H. Pegram Professor of Chemistry (1920-1965), Chair of the Chemistry Department (1921-1948), Dean of the Graduate School (1947-1952), Dean of the University (1952-1958), and Vice-President in the Educational Division (1949-1960). Types of materials include correspondence, clippings, reports, research papers, meeting notes, conference materials, contracts, speeches, dedications, eulogies, lecture notes, financial information, postcards, and building plans. Materials range in date from 1935-1979. Box 43 was added to the finding aid 8 March 2007 and is unprocessed.
- Biographical / historical:
Paul M. Gross was born in 1895. He received degrees from the City College of New York (B.S., 1916) and Columbia University (M.S., 1917 and Ph.D. 1919) in physical chemistry. He arrived at Trinity College in 1919, and began his tenure as Assistant Professor of Chemistry, teaching physical, organic, and fluorine chemistry. He led the Chemistry Department as Duke University underwent the transformation from regional college to research university. Gross served Duke University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1919-1920), William H. Pegram Professor of Chemistry (1920-1965), Chair of the Chemistry Department (1921-1948), Dean of the Graduate School (1947-1952), Dean of the University (1952-1958), and Vice-President in the Educational Division (1949-1960). Gross was a proponent of scientific research and its value for education and society and held many seminars for science educators in North Carolina.
Gross directed Duke University's scientific research for both the U.S. Army and Navy during wartime. Naval Research on organic fluorine gases, compounds, and batteries was carried out by the Chemistry Department under contract with the Office of Naval Research. As part of the Army Scientific Advisory Panel, Gross advised top U.S. Army researchers on scientific matters. Gross was also involved in the Frangible Bullet Project, the largest military research project at Duke University. The frangible bullet, developed in 1942, was a plastic explosive that behaved like a bullet and enabled accurate training practices. The project earned Gross the President's Medal of Merit.
While a successful scientist, Gross is perhaps best known at Duke University as an administrator. Gross' administrative career at Duke University began in 1934 when he was named Chair of the University Research Council, a position he held until 1949. The Research Council helped to guide the University as it developed into a respected research institution. He also chaired the University Committee on Long Range Planning from 1959-1960. His opinions on administrative matters, along with his Vice President of Educational Division status, led to conflicts with President A. Hollis Edens around 1960, in what came to be known as the Gross-Edens Affair. The conflict mostly concerns the debate over whether Duke University should become a regional or national university, and to what degree the institution should be known for its devotion to research or teaching. Edens resigned from his position as University President, and Gross was removed from his administrative position as a result of the conflict.
In addition to his university positions, Paul Gross also served on numerous state, regional, and national boards relating to scientific research. In the late 1940s, he was a founder of the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies (later Oak Ridge Associated Universities) and served as its President until 1949. President Harry S. Truman appointed Gross to the original National Science Foundation board in 1950, a position he held for 12 years. Gross held other administrative positions within the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the United States Health, Education, and Welfare Committee on Environmental Health, the Council of Southern Universities, the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology, Research Triangle Institute, Governor's Research Triangle Committee, and the North Carolina Atomic Energy Advisory Committee.
As an independent contractor, Gross was called upon to evaluate the composition of products including beer, cosmetics, film, and fire extinguishers. He was a sought-after speaker among his colleagues, giving many dedications, eulogies, lectures, panel discussions, testimonials, and dinner addresses during his career. When Gross retired from teaching at Duke University in 1965, the Gross Chemical Laboratory on Duke University's West Campus was named in his honor. Paul M. Gross died in 1986 at the age of 91.
Paul M. Gross was the son of Magnus and Ellen Sullivan Gross of New York. He married Gladys Cobb Peterson in 1918. They had two children: Paul M. Gross, Jr. and Beatrix Gross Ramey.
- Acquisition information:
Gift; 1993; A93-43 (Boxes 1-6, 10-27)
Gift; 1965; 65-122 (Boxes 7-9)
Gift; 1965; 65-28 (Boxes 28-42)
Transfer; 1986 (no accession number)
- Processing information:
Processed by Emily J. Glenn
Completed January, 2003.
This collection is partially processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.
Encoded by Emily J. Glenn, March 2003
More detailed inventory for boxes 3 and 6 added by Brooke Guthrie and Tracy M. Jackson, April 2022.
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Education and the war
Chemistry -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- North Carolina -- Durham
Naval gunnery -- Technological innovations
Education, Higher -- Southern States
Education, Higher -- United States -- Administration
Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives
Universities and colleges -- Administration
Universities and colleges -- Southern States
Ordnance, Naval -- Technological innovations -- United States
- Duke University -- Administration
Council of Southern Universities, Inc. Southern Fellowships Fund
Duke University. Department of Chemistry
Duke University. Board of Trustees
Duke University -- History -- 20th century
Duke University -- Faculty
Duke University. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
North Carolina Board of Science and Technology
Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies
Paul M. Gross Chemical Laboratory
Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- Faculty
Trinity College (Durham, N.C.) -- History -- 20th century
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Flowers, Robert Lee
Hobbs, Marcus E., 1909-
Hart, Deryl, 1894-1980
Gross, Paul Magnus, 1895-1986
Edens, Arthur Hollis, 1901-
Jordan, Charles E.
- United States. Navy -- Artillery
United States. Army -- Artillery -- History
United States. Office of Naval Research
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[Identification of item], Paul M. Gross Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.