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Papers of Virgil Payne

Identifier: 1983-003

Scope and Contents

These are research files for a series of papers that Payne presented on the teaching of Chemistry in the U.S. prior to the Civil War. Much of the material deals with Transylvania College in Kentucky. The collection is divided into materials relating to the history of chemistry and a smaller cache of materials relating to Payne's work with the U.S. Signal Corps. The larger portion of the historical material concerns Robert Peter. There were photographs in the collection, but these have been separated out.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1946-1956
  • Creation: 1927-1960


Language of Materials

Text in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical sketch

Virgil Francis Payne was born on January 23, 1893 near Fulton, MO. He studied at Westminster College (MO), the University of Missouri, University of Chicago and received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1931. From 1923 to 1941, Payne was Head of the Chemistry Department at Transylvania College in Kentucky. While at Transylvania he became acquainted with the letters and papers of Dr. Robert Peter (1805-1894) who had taught Chemistry there in early in 19th century and much of Payne's subsequent historical research concerned itself with Peter and members of his circle. From 1941 to 1957 Payne was employed by the U.S. Signal Corps at their Ft. Monmouth, NJ laboratories. Upon retirement from the Signal Corps he returned to his first love, teaching, teaching at Monmouth Community College. Payne wrote extensively on Robert Peter and other important figures in ante-bellum Kentucky. He was also active in the ACS Division on the History of Chemistry, serving as Chairman in 1960-1961.


3.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes)


The Papers of Virgil Payne contain correspondence, research files and finished papers chiefly concerned with the life and career of Robert Peter, a professor of chemistry, and his circle of friends, all of them active in antebellum Kentucky.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Method of acquisition--gift;; Date of acquisition--1983..

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Box list added

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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