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Lloyd H. Conover Papers

Identifier: 2012-039

Scope and Content

The Lloyd H. Conover Papers contain the personal papers of Lloyd H. Conover. The collection is arranged into the following ten series:

  1. Pfizer, Incorporated Files
  2. Tetracycline Files
  3. Tetracycline Litigation Files
  4. Patent Files
  5. Personal Files
  6. Robert Burns Woodward Files
  7. Papers and Speeches
  8. Printed Materials
  9. Audio-Visual Materials
  10. Photographic Materials


  • Creation: 1937-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1950-2012


Language of Materials

Collection materials are mostly in English. A small amount of materials in German, Dutch, Chinese, Swedish, Portuguese, and Japanese are also in the collection.

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 Lloyd H. Conover Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Lloyd H. Conover was a prominent American chemist, pharmaceutical industry executive, and inventor. Born in Orange, New Jersey on June 13, 1923, Conover became interested in chemistry at a young age. He entered Amherst College to study chemistry in 1941, but interrupted his education to serve in the United States Navy during World War II. In the Navy, he served on a tank landing ship (LST) in the Pacific Theatre and rose to the rank of lieutenant junior grade. After the war, Conover returned to Amherst and earned his B.S. in Chemistry in 1947. He furthered his education by earning his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1950.

Conover went to work in the pharmaceutical industry in 1950 when he accepted a research chemist position with Charles Pfizer & Company, Incorporated (later renamed Pfizer, Incorporated), where he went on to enjoy a distinguished thirty-four career. Soon after his arrival at Pfizer, Conover was assigned to a team studying the molecular structure of the antibiotics terramycin and aureomycin. Working with Harvard University chemist (and future Nobel Prize winner) Robert Burns Woodward, the team realized that these antibiotics could be chemically altered to produce new forms of antibiotics.

In 1952, Conover chemically altered the aureomycin molecule by stripping it of chlorine and replacing it with hydrogen. The end result was tetracycline, an antibiotic that was more potent than the drug from which it was derived. Patented in 1955, tetracycline proved effective against numerous infections, including, but not limited to, salmonella, gonorrhea, and pneumonia. For a number of years, it was one of the most effective and widely prescribed antibiotics in the world.

After its initial discovery, Conover continued his research on tetracycline. Working with Robert Burns Woodward, he achieved total synthesis of this drug in 1962. He also rose through Pfizer's corporate hierarchy, serving as Group Supervisor (1958-1961), Section Manager (1961-1966), Assistant Director of Chemotherapeutic Research (1966-1968), and Director of Chemical Research - Chemotherapy (1968-1971).

In 1971, Conover was transferred to Pfizer's subsidiary Pfizer Limited, which was based in Sandwich, England. Serving as Research Director of Medicinal Products Research & Development (1971-1972) and Vice President of Medicinal Products Research & Development (1972-1975), he successfully guided Pfizer Limited through difficult times and made it a more productive operation. Conover returned to the United States in 1975 and subsequently served as Pfizer's Vice President of Agricultural Products Research & Development (1975-1981) and Senior Vice President of Agricultural Products Research & Development (1981-1984). He retired from Pfizer, Incorporated in 1984.

A productive inventor, Conover was awarded over two hundred patents in the United States and abroad, including those for tetracycline (1955), pyrantel (1972), and morantel (1972). Conover also received several awards for his work in chemistry, including the Eli Whitney Award (1983) and the Third Century Award (1990). Conover was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1992 and was an active member of several scientific organizations, including the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Lloyd H. Conover passed away on March 11, 2017.


Lloyd H. Conover Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


6.6 Linear Feet (4 Record Boxes, 1 Hollinger Box, and 1 Half Hollinger Box)


Professional files, legal files, patent files, personal files, papers and speeches, printed materials, audio-visual materials, and photographic materials of American chemist, pharmaceutical industry executive, and inventor Lloyd H. Conover.

Acquisition Information

The Lloyd H. Conover Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Lloyd H. Conover in November 2012.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by Lloyd H. Conover preserved at the date of processing.

Processing Information

The Lloyd H. Conover Papers were processed by Andrew Mangravite in March 2017. The addenda to the Lloyd H. Conover Papers (Series I, III-V, VII-X) was processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in September 2018.


Lloyd H. Conover Papers
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
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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