Dr. Charles Holmes Herty, Sr. (December 4, 1867 - July 27, 1938) was an American academic, scientist and businessman. Serving in academia as a chemistry professor to begin his career, Herty concurrently promoted collegiate athletics including creating the first varsity football team at the University of Georgia. His academic research gravitated towards applied chemistry where he revolutionized the turpentine industry in the United States. While serving as the president of the American Chemical Society, Herty became a national advocate for the nascent American chemical industry and left academia to preside over the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers' Association (SOCMA) and the Chemical Foundation. He was also instrumental in the creation of the National Institutes of Health. Towards the end of his career, Herty's research and advocacy led to the creation of a new pulp industry in the Southern United States that utilized southern pine trees to create newsprint.
Herty married Sophie Schaller of Athens on December 23, 1895, and they had three children: Charles "Holmes", Jr., Frank Bernard and Sophia "Dolly" Dorothea. Holmes became a metallurgist and vice-president of Bethlehem Steel and was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences. Frank worked for the Union Gas Company in Brooklyn, New York. Dolly attended Vassar College as an undergraduate, Cornell University for her Masters of Science in botany and returned to Vassar to teach plant physiology.
Herty was granted a sabbatical leave for the 1899-1900 academic year. After securing letters of introduction from American colleagues William McMurtrie, Remsen, Edgar Fahs Smith, and Francis Venable, Herty left for Europe and interacted with Walther Nernst, G. Lunge, Otto N. Witt and Alfred Werner. Herty's European trip provided the stimulus to experiment with Georgia pine trees as a source of paper after learning of the German use of tannenbaume for that same purpose.
A Witt lecture on the poor processes used by the American Naval stores industry and the almost certain likelihood that those processes would completely destroy the Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) led Herty to study the naval store industry's use of those trees to produce timber and turpentine. After engaging in literature and field research to better understand the industry and its processes, Herty confirmed the validity of Witt's claim that the pine species would be completely destroyed. Herty also elucidated massive inefficiencies in the destructive collection processes. After conferring with forester W. W. Ashe of the North Carolina Geological Survey, Herty simplified a cup and gutter system used for many decades in France to combat both problems. The "Herty system" required less forestry expertise and labor, both necessities to insure the method's financial success in the United States.
The initial Herty system utilized two v-shaped galvanized iron gutters to collect the resin. The simplicity of the method allowed it to be taught to the existing workforce in the turpentine industry. Herty's method yielded more resin that was also higher in quality; however, the most important success of this new method was that it lengthened the useful lifetime of the pine trees from only a few years to decades. This extended use not only saved the trees but the naval store industry as well. Herty's less destructive collection method also allowed the trees to eventually be milled as lumber. Herty subsequently moved from an iron gutter to a ceramic one, and his involvement with the Chattanooga Pottery Company in the production of the ceramic gutters eventually led to the creation of the Herty Turpentine Cup Company in 1909.
After continued recruitment efforts by Venable, the president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) at the time, Herty finally accepted a long-offered appointment as the head of that school's chemistry department in January 1905 and served as the Smith Professor of Applied Chemistry, officially beginning his duties in July of that year. In 1908, Herty was appointed the dean of UNC's School of Applied Sciences and served in that position until 1911. During his tenure at UNC, Herty continued to receive numerous job offers from groups including UGA as the Chair of Forestry, the United States Department of Agriculture Bureau of Soils, the Forest Products Laboratory, the University of Virginia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; however, Herty remained at UNC. While on the UNC faculty, Herty was an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and served as the president of the North Carolina section of the ACS in 1906, chairman of the Division of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry in 1909, councillor-at-large in 1909 and eventually as president of the entire ACS organization from 1915 through 1916. In that same year he joined the American Forestry Association. Herty was also active in Orange County society and business. He was a member of the county commission and president of the local school board from 1910 until 1916. As part-owner of several local businesses including the Chapel Hill Telephone Company and the Chapel Hill Bank, Herty became a well-known member of the community.
On October 28, 1921, a group of synthetic organic chemical manufacturers created the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers' Association (SOCMA). As part of that meeting, they also convinced Herty to become president of this new organization and his focus now shifted to the federal government in Washington, D.C.. Herty also focused on improving the relationship between academia and the organic chemical industry.
In November 1926, Herty resigned from SOCMA to become an adviser to the Chemical Foundation where he would work alongside his long-time friend and collaborator, Francis P. Garvan, the president of the Foundation from 1919 to 1937.
The Chemical Foundation was created in 1919 to oversee German patents seized by the United States Office of Alien Property during World War I to aid the growth of the nascent American chemical industry. Garvan and Alexander Mitchell Palmer were the Alien Property Custodians for President Woodrow Wilson and were tasked with the creation of the foundation.
Another function of the foundation was the promotion of the field of chemistry and its contributions to society. This goal required the identification and funding of chemical research in academia, industry and government. It also required seeking out donors to fund research deemed important. An example of Herty’s efforts occurred in 1928, when Herty worked on behalf of his alma mater, UGA, to fund a research professorship and laboratory equipment for Professor Alfred Scott to study the turpentine-derivative resene.
In 1926, Herty began a professional relationship with U.S. Senator Joseph Ransdell based on their mutual interest in public health issues and protectionism. Herty was instrumental in assisting the Senator in the four-year struggle to gain the 1930 passage of the Ransdell Act which created the National Institute of Health from the existing Hygenic Laboratory within the United States Public Health Service.
In 1927, Herty stepped down from his full-time responsibilities at the Foundation to become a chemical consultant to universities, trade associations, municipal governments, and private firms located in the southern U.S.; however, he continued to work on several Foundation initiatives including the Ransdell bill for an annual retainer of US$5,000 through 1930.
Herty formed the Savannah Paper and Pulp Laboratory in Savannah, Georgia. By 1933, the plant had developed a feasible process for pulp conversion. On March 31, 1933, the first newspaper was printed using paper created with the Herty process. On September 26, 2001 the Savannah lab was named a National Historic Chemical Landmark (NHCL).
Herty was the first faculty director of athletics at UGA. He also assumed the position of Instructor in Physical Culture in 1894 and was named Physical Director two years later. He led efforts to improve the athletic fields, establish the first campus gymnasium in the basement of Old College, create intramural and varsity baseball teams, and build tennis courts. In 1890, Herty began the UGA football program and coached the team for its inaugural season.
UGA played their first game on January 30, 1892, against Mercer University in Athens and won 50-0. The team lost its second game of the season to Auburn University 0-10 and finished the inaugural season with a record of 1-1. Frank "Si" Herty, the coach's cousin, served as the captain of the team. That first football field would eventually be named Herty Field in honor of the coach. The area became a parking lot in the 1940s; however, it was later converted into a greenspace in 1999.
On June 13, 1938, the Southland Paper Mills, Inc. was organized, the next year the mill site was dedicated to Herty on May 27, 1939, and the first commercial newsprint made of Southern pine started production at this facility on January 17, 1940. The St. Regis Paper Company purchased controlling interest in Southland and eventually purchased it outright in 1977, and in 1984 Champion International Corporation bought St. Regis to become the largest manufacturer of "white paper" and the second largest domestic producer of newsprint. In 2000, Herty was posthumously inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame.
Herty, Texas and Herty Elementary School in that same area are named in his honor. Numerous college buildings are named after Herty including the science building at Georgia College & State University and the science and agriculture building at Savannah State University. Other namesakes include a UGA scholarship fund provided by the Alumni Association, the Herty Forest Institute in Waycross, Georgia, the liberty ship SS Charles H. Herty (launched in 1943), and Herty Drive and Herty Field on the northwest campus of UGA. A plaque with his portrait was also hung by order of the Georgia General Assembly at the Georgia State Capitol in 1946. The Charles H. Herty Medal has been awarded annually since 1933 by the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society.. The medal is inscribed with the words pro scientia et patria - Herty 1933 which translates roughly as "for science and country".
The Georgia General Assembly posthumously created the Savannah-based Herty Foundation in 1938 as a state-owned, non-profit organization focused on the pulp and paper industry. This foundation was renamed in 2006 as the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center.
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