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Papers of Jerome A. Berson

Identifier: 2012-019

Scope and Content

The Papers of Jerome A. Berson contain the personal and professional papers of American physical organic chemist Jerome A. Berson. The collection covers Berson’s career as a professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Yale University. It also documents his retirement career as a historian of chemistry and the philosophy of chemistry. The Papers of Jerome A. Berson are arranged into the following twelve series:

  1. Laboratory Notebooks
  2. Research Files
  3. Drafts and Papers
  4. Reports and Proposals
  5. Seminar Abstracts
  6. Conferences, Workshops, and Symposia
  7. Courses
  8. Academic Career
  9. Awards and Nominations
  10. Correspondence
  11. Biographical
  12. Jerome A. Berson Lecture Slides


  • Creation: 1923-2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1950-1999


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 Jerome A. Berson. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Jerome A. Berson (1924-2017) was an American physical organic chemist. Born in Sanford, Florida on May 10, 1924, Berson earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the City College of New York (1944), then briefly worked at Hoffman-LaRoche, where he worked on penicillin. From 1944 to 1946, he served in the United States Army, where he was assigned to the 29th Medical Laboratory in Calcutta, India. After his military service, Berson resumed his education at Columbia University, earning his A.M. in Chemistry (1947) and Ph.D. in Chemistry (1949). At Columbia, he conducted research with American chemist William von Eggers Doering. After earning his Ph.D., Berson served as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1949-1950), where he conducted research with American organic chemist and future Nobel Laureate Robert Burns Woodward.

In 1950, Berson joined the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Department of Chemistry. He rose through USC’s faculty ranks, serving as Assistant Professor (1950-1953), Associate Professor (1953-1958), and Professor (1958-1963). Berson moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Chemistry in 1963, where served as Professor (1963-1969). In 1969, he joined the faculty of Yale University’s Department of Chemistry, where he served as Professor (1969-1979), Irenee du Pont Professor (1979-1992), and Sterling Professor (1992-1994). At Yale, in addition to his teaching duties and contributions to various committees, Berson also served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry (1971-1974) and Director of the Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering (1983-1990). He retired from Yale University in 1994 at the rank of Sterling Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Research and Scientist (1994-2017).

Over the course of his career, Berson became a recognized expert in the areas of reaction mechanisms and molecular synthesis. He first started conducting research on reaction mechanisms at USC, studying the pathways by which chemical transformations take place. At Wisconsin-Madison, he studied thermal and carbocationic rearrangements and the role of orbital symmetry in chemical reactions. At Yale, Berson continued to study thermal reactions controlled by orbital symmetry and conducted research on non-Kekule molecules. In his later years, he turned his attention to the history and philosophy of chemistry.

Berson authored numerous articles and papers over the course of his career. He was also the recipient of several awards, including the James Flack Norris Award (1978), the Nichols Medal (1985), the Roger Adams Award (1987), the Arthur C. Cope Award (1992), the Oesper Award (1998) and the Literature Prize of the German Association of Chemical Industry (2000). Berson served on many committees and advisory boards and was an active member of the American Chemical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. He was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jerome A. Berson passed away on January 13, 2017.


Bergman, Robert and Marc Greenberg. Biographical Memoirs - Jerome A. Berson, 1924-2017. National Academy of Sciences, 2021. - berson-jerome.pdf (

Oral History Interview with Jerome A. Berson, 2001 March 21, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Papers of Jerome A. Berson, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


53.3 Linear Feet (40 Boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of research notes, drafts of papers, lab materials, and other documents of American physical organic chemist Jerome A. Berson.

Acquisition Information

The Papers of Jerome A. Berson were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Jerome A. Berson in 2012.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by Jerome A. Berson preserved at the date of processing.

The Oral History Interview with Jerome A. Berson, 2001 March 21 is preserved at the Science History Institute Archives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Papers of John D. Roberts are preserved at the Science History Institute Archives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Processing Information

The Papers of Jerome A. Berson were processed by Andrew Mangravite in 2013.

Papers of Jerome A. Berson
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

  • 2013: Revised by Patrick Shea
  • 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)