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Charles G. Overberger Papers

Identifier: 1992-011-001

Scope and Content

The Charles G. Overberger Papers contain the personal papers of American chemistry teacher and chemist Charles G. Overberger.

The collection provides a snapshot of Overberger’s career. Its contents are narrowly focused upon the last decades of his life and contain no material of a scientific nature and hardly any of a personal nature, though there are a few items of memorabilia included. The bulk of the collection details Overberger’s participation in a number of professional organizations to which he belonged. These include the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Because he was concerned about the societal impact of chemical processes, and questions of how the chemist fits into his society, the papers contained herein are less about the science of chemistry than they are about the profession of a chemist. The collection is arranged into the following seven series:

  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  2. American Chemical Society (ACS)
  3. American Institute of Chemists (AIC)
  4. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)
  5. National Research Council (NRC)
  6. National Science Foundation (NSF)
  7. Memorabilia


  • Creation: 1965-1988
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1979


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Charles G. Overberger Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Charles Gilbert Overberger was an American chemistry teacher and chemist, specializing in polymer research and education. Overberger was born on October 12, 1920 in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania in 1941 and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1944. Overberger studied with Professor Carl Marvel and worked for him as a Research Associate from 1944 until 1946. He also studied with Professor Arthur C. Cope at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Overberger began his teaching career at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in Brooklyn, New York, where he taught from 1947 until 1967, rising to the position of Dean of Science and Director of the Polymer Research Institute. In 1967, he accepted a position as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Overberger spent the remainder of his career at the University of Michigan, where he established and became the first Director of the Macromolecular Research Center. He retired from the University of Michigan in 1989.

Overberger was a past president of the American Chemical Society, the Chemistry Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Macromolecular Division of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. He also served as member or chair of numerous boards, committees, and professional associations; as a consultant to several industrial firms and government agencies; and as an editor of several professional journals and reviews. Overberger held three honorary degrees. Among the numerous honors he received during his career were the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award of the American Chemical Society (1978), the International Award of the Society of Plastics Engineers (1979), the Horace N. Potts medal from the Franklin Institute (1982), and the University of Michigan’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award (1985).

Overberger’s chief research concerns were in the fields of synthetic organic reaction mechanisms and polymer chemistry. He was also concerned about the impact of chemistry upon society and the role of the chemist in society. Overberger viewed chemistry as a mechanism of both scientific and social change. Charles G. Overberger passed away on March 17, 1997 in Riverview, Ann Arbor, Michigan after an extended illness resulting from Parkinson’s disease.


Charles G. Overberger Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

University of Michigan. “Charles G. Overberger.”


5.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes.)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, meeting minutes, meeting summaries, reports, conference materials, event programs, agenda, memoranda, biographical materials, and memorabilia belonging to American chemistry teacher and chemist Charles G. Overberger.

Acquisition Information

The Charles G. Overberger Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Betty Overberger in 1992.

Related Materials

There is one other known archival collection of Charles G. Overberger preserved at the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Charles G. Overberger Papers, 1957-1989.

Processing Information

The Charles G. Overberger Papers were processed by Andrew Mangravite in 2008 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.

Charles G. Overberger Papers
The Charles G. Overberger Papers were processed by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Samantha Brigher.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
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