Letter from Richard Willstatter, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule to Michael Heidelberger
To qualify for a desirable academic position in chemistry in the United States, scientific training at a European University
was an indispensable credential before World War I. With financial support from his father, Heidelberger spent the year 1911-1912
in the laboratory of the organic chemist and 1915 Nobel Laureate, Richard Willstatter, at the Federal Polytechnic Institute
in Zurich, Switzerland. There, Heidelberger helped prepare cyclooctatetraene, the next higher analog of benzene, consisting
of a ring with eight carbon atoms and four double bonds, a relatively reactive, colorless liquid used in organic chemistry
research. As Heidelberger recalled, it was in Willstatter's laboratory that he "really began to learn how to deal
with difficult things in chemistry." "Better training than that you couldn't have . . ."
In this letter of reference, Willstatter commends Heidelberger for his "extraordinary effort," and "as a hard-working
chemist and as a young researcher of absolute reliability. His precision during observations and measurements also made a
positive difference during physical [chemistry] investigations."
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (47,798 Bytes)
1912-08-04 (August 4, 1912)
Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule
Courtesy of Michael Heidelberger.
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