Skip to main content

Papers of Seymour Meyerson

Identifier: 2008-038-001

Scope and Content

The Papers of Seymour Meyerson contain the personal papers of American analytical chemist and historian of mass spectrometry Seymour Meyerson. The contents of this collection document Meyerson’s professional career at Standard Oil Company (Indiana) and his retirement career as a historian of mass spectrometry. The files in this collection also document the early use of mass spectrometry in the petroleum industry.

The Papers of Seymour Meyerson are arranged into the following six series:

  1. Mass Spectrometry
  2. Meeting Notes
  3. Professional Life
  4. Publications
  5. Supplementary Files
  6. Addenda to the Collection


  • Creation: 1910-2016
  • Creation: Bulk 1947-1997


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Copyright Information

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

Background Note

Seymour Meyerson Seymour Meyerson (1916-2016) was an American analytical chemist and a noted authority on mass spectrometry. Born in Chicago, Illinois on May 28, 1916, Meyerson received his S.B. degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1938. After earning his undergraduate degree, he took additional courses in a variety of disciplines at the University of Chicago and George Williams College.

After a brief stint as a chemist at Deavitt Laboratories in Chicago (1941-1942), Meyerson went to work as a civilian inspector for the United States Army at the Kankakee Ordnance Works in Joliet, Illinois. In 1943, he volunteered for the United States military, where he served in the Army Signal Corps and the Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan Engineer District. While with the Corps of Engineers, Meyerson served as technical liaison officer between the Manhattan Engineer District and Standard Oil Company (Indiana). During his military service, he took graduate course in physics, organic chemistry, and thermodynamics. He also received training in electronics and gained his formative experience with the mass spectrometer.

In 1946, Meyerson went to work for Standard Oil Company (Indiana), where he enjoyed a distinguished thirty-eight year career. At Standard Oil of Indiana, he became a noted authority on mass spectrometry. Initially serving as a chemist in the firm’s Research and Development Department, Meyerson was involved from the outset with the company’s mass spectrometry group, conducting quantitative gas analysis on gases and low boiling liquids, consisting of hydrocarbons and fixed gases. When conducting his research, he was a frequent user of instruments manufactured by Consolidated Engineering Corporation (C.E.C.).

Over the course of his career with Standard Oil of Indiana, Meyerson rose through the firm’s research hierarchy, which included serving as Research Associate (1962-1972), Senior Research Associate (1972-1980) and Research Consultant (1980-1984). He retired from Standard Oil of Indiana in 1984. His stature as an authority on mass spectrometry led to his retirement career as a historian of the early days of this technology, especially as it related to the petroleum industry.

Seymour Meyerson was an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society’s Division of Petroleum Chemistry and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). As a member of the ASTM’s Committee E-14, Subcommittee X, he was involved in proposing a list of acceptable definitions in mass spectrometry to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). He was also the author of numerous papers, articles, and book chapters.

Seymour Meyerson passed away on May 28, 2016.

Standard Oil Company (Indiana)/Amoco Standard Oil Company (Indiana), also called Amoco (American Oil Company), was an American oil company. Founded in 1889 around an oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, it was originally part of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. The firm originally refined crude oil into axle grease, paraffin, and kerosene. The company grew rapidly and became a leading supplier of kerosene in the American Midwest by the early 1900s. In 1910, due to the rapid growth of automobile ownership in the United States, Standard Oil of Indiana started to specialize in the refining of crude oil into gasoline for automotive uses.

When the Standard Oil Trust was broken up in 1911, Standard Oil of Indiana became an independent concern with an assigned market in the American Midwest. The company continued to grow. In 1925, Standard Oil of Indiana purchased Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company, which owned a half interest in American Oil Company, a Baltimore, Maryland based oil firm founded in 1910 by Louis and Jacob Blaustein. This acquisition marked the beginning of Standard Oil of Indiana’s long association with the Amoco brand name. In 1931, Standard Oil of Indiana expanded its operations to include exploration and production when it founded Stanolind.

Standard Oil of Indiana was responsible for a number of innovations. The company opened its first drive-in filling station in 1912. Company scientist William Burton was awarded a patent for a process called thermal cracking, which doubled the amount of gasoline that could be made from crude oil. The company also bucked the tide toward leaded gasoline by marketing its lead-free Amoco Super-Premium fuel. During World War II, Standard Oil of Indiana contributed to the American war effort by producing aviation fuel and land fuels, and by developing new methods of oil refinement. In 1948, the firm invented Hydrafrac (also known as fracking), a well fracturing method that increased oil production worldwide. Standard Oil of Indiana was also a pioneer in offshore oil drilling.

Following World War II, Standard Oil of Indiana continued to grow and evolve. During the 1970s, the firm phased in the Amoco name throughout its sales territory. Standard Oil of Indiana formally changed its name to Amoco Corporation in 1985.

In 1998, Amoco Corporation merged with British Petroleum (also called BP) to form BP Amoco. The firm’s service stations in the United States were rebranded as BP. For several years, the only trace of the Amoco brand was its use for Amoco Ultimate gasoline. In 2017, BP Amoco relaunched the Amoco brand by opening new Amoco service stations in the United States.


Internet Archive Wayback Machine - History of Amoco - history of bp|history of Amoco|about bp| (

Obituary of Seymour Meyerson - Seymour Meyerson Obituary (1916 - 2016) - Asheville Citizen-Times (

Oral History Interview with Seymour Meyerson, Science History Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - meyerson_s_0398_suppl_0.pdf (

Papers of Seymour Meyerson, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Yergin, Daniel, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.


16.0 Linear Feet (64 Boxes)

Language of Materials





Research files, professional files, correspondence, reports, and publications of American analytical chemist and historian of mass spectrometry Seymour Meyerson.

Acquisition Information

The Papers of Seymour Meyerson were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) in two accretions: by Seymour Meyerson in July 2008 and by Sheella Mierson in June 2016.

Related Materials

The Photographs from the Papers of Seymour Meyerson are preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Oral History Interview with Seymour Meyerson is preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

There are four related archival collections preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

  1. Papers of Charles M. Judson
  2. Papers of Walter Slavin
  3. Abraham Savitzky Papers
  4. Chemical Heritage Foundation Instrumentation Manual Collection

Processing Information

The Papers of Seymour Meyerson were processed by Andrew Mangravite in October 2016.

Papers of Seymour Meyerson
Finding aid created by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Kenton G. Jaehnig

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)