The Lomonosov Gold Medal


The late 1970s, a period still defined by Cold War tensions, was full of obstacles for Linus Pauling. Living in California, Pauling had been confronted with a number of serious issues within the research institute that bore his name, including a wrongful termination lawsuit and chronic financial instability. Likewise, his continuing research on the potential therapeutic impact of vitamin C on cancer drew mounting criticism from the scientific community, and he was often denied funding to further his work.

One of Pauling’s supporters and friends, psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond, believed that the nature of Pauling’s research was not the only reason why funding sources had chosen to withhold support. For Osmond, it seemed that many granting institutions had been steering clear of Pauling ever since his loyalty and patriotism had been questioned nearly thirty years before.

So in the minds of many it was a mixed piece of news when, in Fall 1977, Pauling received notification that he would be awarded the Soviet Academy of Science’s highest honor, the M.V. Lomonosov Gold Medal. But for Pauling, the choice to accept was easy. Never shy in the face of controversy and always eager to improve scientific relations between the world’s two superpowers, Pauling happily agreed to the Soviet offer and began making plans to receive the award in Moscow.


M.V. Lomonosov

The Lomonosov Gold Medal was named after Mikhail V. Lomonosov, an eighteenth century natural scientist who developed the concept of heat movement as well as a basic understanding of matter. Lomonosov was particularly significant to the Soviet Academy of Sciences as he founded the organization’s first chemical laboratory in 1748. In addition to his scientific significance, Lomonosov was also a humanitarian who often commented on social issues within his writing.

First awarded in 1959, the Lomonosov Gold Medal was designed to honor individuals who had made especially significant contributions to the understanding of natural sciences. The purview of the award clarified a bit more in 1969, when the Academy decided to grant it annually to two recipients: one Soviet and one foreign.

In 1977, the year that Pauling was selected, Mikhail Lavrentyev also was recognized as the domestic recipient. Lavrentyev was a mathematician who had organized the Siberian branch of the Academy in 1957 and who had previously received many other national awards including the USSR State Prize, the Lenin Medal and the title Hero of Socialist Labor. Subsequent American winners have included Pauling colleagues James Watson, Alexander Rich and Roald Hoffmann.


Pauling delivering his lecture at the Shemyakin Symposium, September 1978

Pauling accepted his medal about a year after the award notification was circulated. He did so at the Shemyakin Symposium on Frontiers in Bioorganic Chemistry and Molecular Biology, which was held in Moscow in late September 1978. Pauling had initially been invited to attend the Soviet Academy’s annual meeting the previous March, but was unable to clear time in his schedule until the fall. The Shemyakin Symposium was arrived at as an agreeable compromise, and Pauling made the trip with his wife, Ava Helen, as well as his research partner Ewan Cameron and Cameron’s wife too. (Pauling insisted that both Cameron and the symposium would benefit from their combined presence.)

Bestowed “for outstanding achievements in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry” and for his work as “an active fighter for peace among the nations,” the medal was given to Pauling by Anatoly Alexandrov, the president of the Soviet Academy, at the symposium’s opening ceremony. Pauling accepted the award by giving an address that detailed the specifics of his most current work. Titled “Orthomolecular and Toximolecular Medicine Compared,” Pauling’s lecture was delivered to an audience of more than 300 people, including 70 scientists visiting from other countries.

Later on in the symposium, Pauling gave another talk on a completely different area of interest: “The Nature of the Bond Formed by the Transition Metals in Bioorganic Compounds and other Compounds.” While in Moscow, the Paulings also did their best to take in as much culture as possible, and following the close of the meeting the couple traveled to Uzbekistan where they visited the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.


Andrei Sakharov

Though Pauling’s receipt of the Lomonosov Medal would only serve to heighten the suspicions of certain stateside critics, the response from his colleagues was mostly very warm. But in one particular instance, an important peer saw the decoration as an opportunity for Pauling to do more, and quickly.

Only days before accepting the medal in Moscow, Pauling was handed an untranslated letter written by Andrei Sakharov, the famed Soviet dissident who had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 for his activism. In the letter, Sakharov urged Pauling to use the Lomonosov trip to speak out against the wrongful imprisonment of Soviet physicist Yuri Orlov, mathematician Alexander Bolonkin, and biologist Sergei Kovalev. “I am convinced that today you share the concern of many Western colleagues over violations of human rights in the whole world,” Sakharov wrote, “and particularly in the Soviet Union.”

Kovalev’s case was representative of the persecution suffered by many scientists who spoke out in favor of reforms. A member and supporter of the organization Action Group for the Defense of Human Rights in the USSR, Kovalev had been sentenced to seven years in a hard labor camp and another three year in a standard prison for his activities.

Pauling was caught off-guard by Sakharov’s communication which, unbeknownst to him, had also been released to the media. While in the Soviet Union, Pauling did not address the content of Sakharov’s request, and when he returned to the U.S. he found that his reputation had suffered for this in action.

In a letter to the editor of Physics Today authored a month later, Pauling defended himself, noting that

I had signed statements and had written letters about scientists and other people whose rights have been reported to have been violated by the USSR government and other governments, although I could not remember with confidence whether or not I had taken action about these three men. I added that all governments are immoral, and cited the example of the United States government, which in 1952 refused me a passport and thus prevented me from participating in the two-day symposium in London that had been organized by the Royal Society…

A response to Pauling’s letter by I.I. Glass of the University of Toronto called him to task for comparing “what happened to him during the McCarthy twilight era with the darkness in which many of our colleagues in the USSR are living today.” Pauling offered this reply:

All governments are immoral. But I agree with Glass that the immorality of the government of the US is different from that of the government of the Soviet Union. Also, I am concerned about Sakharov and other scientists in the Soviet Union. My letter to Physics Today expressed my concern, although only briefly, and expressed also another concern, about how the Sakharov problem is being handled. I wish that I knew more about the whole matter.

Although Pauling does not appear to have followed-up on the issue raised by Sakharov in September 1978, the two activists did maintain a correspondence and, in the years that followed, Pauling offered public support for multiple appeals issued by his Soviet counterpart.

James LuValle, the Olympic Chemist

“Mr. LuValle has made an excellent record in his graduate work with us. He is classed in the upper group of our graduate students, despite the fact that the graduate students are very carefully selected and have in general great ability.”

–Linus Pauling, December 1938

James Ellis LuValle, known for his Olympic prowess as well as his contributions to the field of photochemistry, was born on November 10, 1912. LuValle, who would later come under the academic tutelage of Linus Pauling, showed promise in the classroom at an early age and developed an interest in chemistry not long after.

The same year that LuValle completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, he also competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Competing alongside famed teammate Jessie Owens, LuValle was one of a handful of African Americans to participate in a games dominated by Adolf Hitler and the ascendant Nazi party.

LuValle had been a track star during his undergraduate years at UCLA, and during the Olympic Trials he clocked a personal best of 46.3 in the 400 meters. While competing in Germany, he posted the meet’s best qualifying times but finished third in the final, crossing the line at 46.8, just 0.3 seconds behind Archie Williams of the United States and Godfrey Brown of Great Britain.

LuValle, at right, finishing third in the 400 meters at the 1936 Berlin games.

While LuValle was appreciative of his experiences as an athlete, he always prioritized his scientific education. Notably, when considering his undergraduate options, LuValle turned down football and track scholarships to USC and Notre Dame on the premise that the sports programs at the two institutions had too much say in the academic arena.

Upon returning to the United States following the Berlin games, LuValle received good news: he had been accepted into a graduate program at UCLA and would be supported by an assistantship. Within a year, LuValle finished the curriculum and completed his thesis, “Photochemistry of Crotonaldeyhde at Elevated Temperatures.” During this period, LuValle also pushed the university’s Graduate Students Association to broaden its representation, and the organization was later integrated into the university’s student association, ASUCLA.

Eager to continue his education, LuValle applied to doctoral programs at Wisconsin, Harvard, and the California Institute of Technology. With support from the Julius Rosenwald Fund already in hand, Caltech’s offer of a teaching assistantship was all that LuValle needed to decide to move across town. He began his Ph.D. work under Pauling’s guidance in 1937 and is now believed to have been the first African American graduate student to enroll at Caltech.

While university assistantships were certainly nice, the Rosenwald Fund was key to LuValle’s pursuit of an advanced education. Established in 1917, the fund provided support to two categories of applicants: (1) African Americans, and (2) white Southerners who wished to work on a problem distinctive to the South and who expected to also build their careers in the South. The scholarship was open to men and women between the ages of 22 and 35.

While the fund was typically awarded for a single year and offered a stipend of $1,500, renewal was sometimes granted in exceptional cases, and LuValle certainly fit that mold. Ultimately he received a Rosenwald scholarship for both the 1937-38 and 1938-39 school years; by his own reckoning, he would not have been able to complete his doctoral training without this support.

While at Caltech, LuValle took several courses taught by Pauling, who had already risen to a high level of prominence within the academy. (LuValle later admitted to worshiping him during this time.) Pauling guided and mentored LuValle throughout his three-year “theoretical and experimental attack on the problem of resonance in conjugated unsaturated organic molecules containing oxygen.” Pauling viewed the project as very promising and was confident in his student’s ability to carry out the research.

In 1940 LuValle completed his Caltech Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry while also claiming a minor in Mathematics. His dissertation, titled “An Electron Diffraction Investigation of Several Unsaturated Conjugated Molecules,” detailed his research on the structure and deeper function of vinyl ether and oxalyl chloride, two important compounds that, at the time, had not been satisfactorily investigated. In his study of these two molecules, LuValle concluded that the conjugating power of two carbon-oxygen double bonds was equivalent to the conjugating power of two carbon-carbon double bonds.

LuValle’s laboratory work also revealed that thermolysis investigations could be conducted at much lower temperatures than had been used previously. In his Caltech research journal – which is now deposited in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers – LuValle likewise proposed a new slate of investigations using x-ray and denaturation techniques to study the structure of proteins.

Following U.S. entry into World War II, LuValle was invited by a member of the National Defense Research Committee to join a group of scientists who were actively working to develop a suite of weapons for near-term use. LuValle felt that his potential contributions to these efforts were absolutely necessary to helping insure the safety of the American people during World War II. In 1942 LuValle also returned briefly to Caltech to work with Pauling on war-related research, the nature of which neither was permitted to disclose. Based on his previous collaborations with Pauling, it is likely that LuValle contributed to the development of the blood plasma substitute oxypolygelatin, which was one of many government-funded projects that Pauling led during the war years.

After leaving Caltech for the second time, LuValle maintained a regular correspondence with his former mentor, discussing current research, ideas for the future, and personal matters as well. Pauling, who addressed LuValle as “Jimmy,” wrote many letters of recommendation for his former student, describing him as “reliable, industrious and conscientious,” blessed with an agreeable personality, and likely to “become a very useful member of a scientific organization.”

It did not take long for LuValle to find work. He landed first at Fisk University, a Historically Black College located in Nashville, Tennessee. However, he was quickly disappointed to discover how underdeveloped the Chemistry department was and also to learn that Fisk was facing major budget cuts for the following year. The school was eager to keep LuValle and offered him a raise in pay – from an annual salary of $1,800 to $1,900 – to stay, but LuValle ultimately decided to move north to Rochester, New York in order to work for the Eastman Kodak Company. Eastman Kodak proved to be a good fit, and during his time there LuValle made many significant advancements in the field of photochemistry.

In the years that followed, LuValle bounced back and forth between academia and the private sector as he pursued a wide array of career opportunities. Following Eastman Kodak, he worked as a lecturer at Brandeis University, and later conducted research at Technical Operations Inc., Fairchild Space and Defense Systems, Microstatics Laboratory, and the Palo Alto Research Center.

Pauling continued to support LuValle throughout all of these changes, writing letters of recommendation that commended his friendliness, industry, and willingness to work with everyone, and making particular note of his facility in the lab and his skill as an instructor. In these letters, Pauling often wrote that LuValle had compared favorably with a group of “extraordinary students” who had also attended Caltech during his years of association.

For the decade leading up to his retirement in 1984, LuValle served as Director of Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratories at Stanford University, a position that allowed him to develop summer programs for students of color interested in scientific fields. In 1987 he was nominated for the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award by a Stanford colleague, chemistry professor David Mason, who lauded LuValle’s contributions to the field of photochemistry. In his nomination letter, Mason noted that

During the War and through 1953, [LuValle] was a top flight Chemist at Eastman Kodak and his research led to many innovations in the development and perfection of Kodachrome and Kodacolor processes. He holds important basic patents in the applied photochemical field together with Eastman Kodak.

Once again, Linus Pauling was happy to contribute a secondary letter of support for his former student, who would ultimately receive the award alongside four other prominent Caltech alumni: Morris Muskat (Gulf Oil Company), Stanley Pace (General Dynamics Corporation), Alvin Trivelpace (U.S. Department of Energy) and John Waugh (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

On January 30, 1993, James LuValle passed away, the victim of a heart attack suffered in Te Anau, New Zealand. At the time of his death, LuValle was on holiday with his wife, Jean – a fellow chemist – and his three children, John, Michael, and Phyllis, all of whom pursued careers in the sciences. Over the course of his career, LuValle published about thirty-five technical papers and came to hold eight patents, and his legacy as an Olympian and major figure in photochemistry is utterly unique. Today, the campus student center at UCLA is known as the James E. LuValle Commons, in recognition of LuValle’s career and his contributions to student life at his alma mater.

Pauling and Freeman: The End of the Run


[Post 8 of 8 in our series examining Linus Pauling’s relationship with his long-time publishing house, W.H. Freeman & Co.]

In the 1970s and 1980s, well after Bill Freeman’s departure from the company that he started, Linus Pauling published a number of other books through Freeman and Co., including two big sellers, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, and How to Feel Better and Live Longer, as well as Orthomolecular Psychiatry, which was more of a niche volumeBut as the staff at Freeman and Co. evolved, Pauling began to experience trouble communicating.

Over time, Pauling also felt his editorial contributions were being restricted. Notably, when Basic Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences was published as part of his series, Pauling had no hand in editing it. Once the book had gone to the printers, Pauling sent a letter to Freeman & Co. president Stanley Schaefer stating his belief that the text should not have been released in this manner. No text, he felt, should be published in his series if he was not really and truly the editor.

Schaefer replied that he had no intention of impinging upon Pauling’s authority over the series, but did express his feeling that Pauling’s fame worked against the company at times. In addition, Pauling’s manuscript comments were often very blunt, and while it is unclear how many authors were given the opportunity to read Pauling’s assessments directly, those who did were often upset by comments that they felt were unfair.

One author in particular, an R. Nelson, wrote several pages to Schaefer defending his stylistic choices after the company had rejected his manuscript. Pauling, for one, had criticized his informal tone, but Nelson felt that the approach made the book more appealing to younger generations of scientists. Nelson then attacked the company’s decision to retain Pauling as an editor for the chemistry series, writing

The problem really arises because the chemistry editor is the author of the first text and is a man of strong convictions (as well as great prominence). I believe that this situation puts a potential author (one with no prominence) in an untenable position.

Schaefer was moved by this comment in particular and asked Pauling to reconsider the manuscript with the understanding that some minor errors would be corrected. In so doing, Schaefer also sided with Nelson’s point of view in suggesting that Pauling’s take was based largely on differences in style. In this instance, Pauling was flexible and reconsidered.

In 1970, to help with the problem that Nelson had raised, Schaefer hired Pauling’s friend, colleague and former student, Harden McConnell, to serve as a co-editor for the chemistry series. McConnell was someone whom Pauling respected and who also tended to be rather more gentle in his critique, and the arrangement worked out well. The collaboration likewise helped to spread the editorial responsibilities such that Pauling could dedicate more time to other projects.


Pauling’s notes for his memoir.

The situation had changed substantially by 1979 when Richard Warrington, the latest president of the company, suggested that Pauling terminate his editing contract. Though stressing that Pauling’s “association with the company as an author and adviser in the early years was very important to the success that followed,” Warrington also pointed out that Pauling was no longer teaching. As such, Warrington worried that Pauling’s interests and priorities had changed significantly. He also felt that the Freeman company hadn’t been as effective at bringing in successful chemistry texts in recent years. Pauling felt similarly, but also pointed out that the flow of manuscripts from the company had slowed considerably.

As the company continued to experience leadership changes throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Pauling’s relationship with Freeman as an author also began to deteriorate. Notably, at the same time that Warrington had asked him to terminate his editing contract, Pauling discovered that the company had allowed his landmark General Chemistry to go out of print. Another milestone came about a year later when Neil Patterson assumed the role of president and moved the company to New York to be closer to Scientific American, with which Freeman and Co. now shared a CEO. Pauling had long enjoyed having a publisher based on the West Coast and was disappointed with the move.

In 1991, a correspondent named Jonathan Paul Von Neumann wrote a letter to Pauling expressing his disappointment that Freeman and Co. hadn’t shown any interest when he approached them about translating How to Feel Better and Live Longer into other languages. Pauling wrote back, sharing Von Neumann’s concern and confiding his belief that publishing companies often mishandled their authors.

In 1992, Pauling’s relationship with Freeman and Co. all but came to a close when the publisher rejected two of his proposed manuscripts. One was a freshman text that he planned to write with his youngest son, Crellin. Perhaps more disappointing was the firm’s lack of interest in Pauling’s second suggestion, a memoir that he was to title The Nature of Life — Including My Life.

W.H. Freeman and Company was eventually reabsorbed into its parent company. Now an imprint under Macmillan Learning, the group continues to publish successful science textbooks and provide other educational resources.

Perhaps more than anything else, William Hazen Freeman was a man who created a network of scientists who came together to write, edit, and circulate textbooks geared at improving science education in university classroom. In pursuing this ambition, he harnessed the brilliance of scientists who were top-notch in their fields and commissioned them as editors or writers (or, in the case of Pauling, as both) to disseminate knowledge and advance disciplines. As a result, W.H. Freeman & Co. was, in its prime, a hub for collaboration and communication between scientists and other creative thinkers. It is likely that no other corporation played as profound a role in Pauling’s story than did his long-time publisher.


Life After Bill Freeman


[Tracing Linus Pauling’s association with the W.H. Freeman & Co. publishing house. This is post 7 of 8.]

In the years immediately following Bill Freeman’s departure from the company that he founded, Stanley Schaefer ran W.H. Freeman & Co. quite smoothly. In 1969, Bill Kaufman took over as president with Schaefer staying on as chairman, and Kaufman also did well. Notably, he played a key role in the release of revised editions of Linus Pauling’s General Chemistry and College Chemistry, and by the end of his first year in charge, Schaefer was able to report that the company had grown. As the onset of the 1970s loomed, Freeman & Co. had published fourteen new books and added seventy-two titles to its Scientific American offprint series. The outlook for the next fiscal year seemed bright.

The connection with Scientific American was especially important, as the company had formally merged with the publication in 1964. Of this change Schaefer remarked,

Now united are the forces of two successful, non-competitive publishers who have outstanding reputations for high standards and excellence in scientific publishing. Each is making distinctive contributions to the new alliance. I mention, for example, the significant new source of authors for Freeman books that is now available to us.

Illustrator Roger Hayward, who had spent years working for both Freeman and Scientific American, expressed surprise at this news, but congratulated both parties and noted that the transition seemed to him a “happy circumstance.”

That same year, Pauling and Hayward began collaborating on The Architecture of Molecules, originally titled Molecular Architecture but renamed by Pauling just prior to its release. A stunning and unique collision of science and art, the book was successful right away and continued to do well for years afterward. Both collaborators received 15% royalties for the first 10,000 copies sold in cloth, 18% for every cloth-bound copy sold beyond the initial 10,000, and 10% for the paperback editions.


C.B. Van Niel

Despite his earlier claim that he would not feel confident in the company without Freeman directing it, Pauling continued to maintain a positive and productive relationship with his long-time publisher. In one particular instance, Pauling played an instrumental role in smoothing tensions caused by an unflattering review of a Freeman text. The review in question was authored by microbiologist C.B. Van Niel, whose highly critical assessment of Wayne W. Umbreit’s Modern Microbiology appeared in the widely read magazine, Science.

Prior to the review appearing in print, Van Niel had sent a letter to Bill Freeman warning him that the review would not be favorable, but Freeman had left the company by this point. His replacement, Stan Schaefer, didn’t see the review until it had been published. Once he saw the Science piece, Schaefer responded personally to Van Niel, writing that the criticisms had hit sales hard. Schaefer further speculated that Van Niel harbored a personal grudge against Umbreit and that this was the real source of the animus permeating the review.

It was at this point that Pauling came to Schaefer’s aid. He informed Van Niel that he personally had not found the book to be nearly as flawed as the review claimed and accused his correspondent of “malicious mischief,” stating that most of the errors that he attacked were simple and relatively common across publications.

Without waiting for Van Niel’s response, Pauling then wrote to Phil Abelson, the editor of Science, asking him to redact the review because it was disrespectful, incorrect, took sentences out of context, and was overly aggressive in tone. Seeing Pauling come to Umbreit’s defense, many other professionals in biology and bacteriology spoke out against the review, criticizing its focus on minor errors. More importantly, many within this group also chose to adopt the text despite its flaws.

To stave off future conflicts of this sort, Schaefer requested that, as a courtesy, drafts of reviews be sent to Freeman & Co. before publication, so that the company could prepare if the analysis was unfavorable. Pauling also asked Van Niel for his own annotated copy of the Umbreit text so that Umbreit could use it in his revision process.

When Stanley Schaefer promoted Bill Kaufman to president in 1969, he assumed the position of chairman, a post that had previously been occupied by Freeman himself. Kaufman opted for early retirement in 1971, reporting to Pauling that the timing felt opportune because the “fame” of the company was at an all-time high. He was also confident in the competence of the staff and its collective motivation to ensure the continued success of the company.

Pauling was also feeling bullish about the company’s prospects — so much so that he finally brought up an issue that had been troubling him for some time. Contractual modifications that Bill Freeman had instituted for the second edition of College Chemistry — modifications that lowered Pauling’s royalty rate — were presented as temporary changes needed to help grow the young company financially. When it was suggested, Pauling saw no problem with the change, so long as it was temporary. But, as far as he could see, the lower royalty rate had been applied to the third edition of College Chemistry as well, and Pauling came to feel that he was being taken advantage of. In a letter to Stan Schaefer he expressed his feeling that the agreement, as it was being continued, “might be said to have been obtained by fraudulent methods, involving statements to me that I think were untrue or at least misleading about the financial situation of the Company.”

Schaefer checked the royalty statements and concluded that Pauling was correct in his assessment. After apologizing and thanking Pauling for bringing the matter to his attention, he then set about calculating the difference between the royalties Pauling had received and the royalties that should have dispensed. Once done, Schaefer assured Pauling that the company would pay him $5,000 owed for the second edition of College Chemistry and $7,400 for the third. Pauling thanked Shaefer for his straight dealing and then requested that the company pay him interest at the rate of 7% on these remittances because they were late.

Freeman, Cooper and Co.


[An exploration of William H. Freeman and the publishing firms that he founded. This is part 6 of 8 and focuses on Roger Hayward’s interactions with Freeman, Cooper & Co.]

Despite the disappointing end to his involvement with the company that he had founded, Bill Freeman worked in the publishing industry for the rest of his life. Post Freeman & Co., he stayed with his new employer, Addison-Wesley, long enough to regain a sense of confidence. With his wife Margaret, he then set about establishing his second independent press: Freeman, Cooper & Company, a name that once again incorporated the Freeman brand, but now also included Margaret’s maiden name.

Rather than limiting the scope of their new firm to a specific discipline as Freeman had done in the past, Freeman, Cooper & Co. published books on a wide range of subjects. While Bill Freeman was still primarily interested in publishing textbooks, he shied away from entering into direct competition with his previous company. As a result, his new venture published books for academic use that were not, strictly speaking, textbooks. And while science remained a key area for the publisher, other areas including psychology and philosophy also began to populate the catalog.


Roger Hayward, ca. 1960s

Though Freeman relished the fresh start, he still recognized the value of retaining past connections. Key among these connections was illustrator and close friend Roger Hayward, whom Freeman approached with a few project ideas in 1971. The first of these ideas was a book that he hoped Hayward would write on “the simpler and fundamental geometry of nature,” intended for use by both introductory and advanced students. He also proposed that Hayward illustrate a different book on crystallography for chemists, and a third book focusing on the chemical elements.

Hayward expressed interest in these projects, as long as Freeman could pay him royalties. Freeman agreed, but warned that the royalties might be small because the audience for each project was likely to be rather specialized. For Hayward, this was a risk worth taking, given that his royalty income from other projects was robust enough to absorb a potentially low payout from these new ventures. Having arrived at this understanding, Freeman’s only additional request of Hayward was that he not complete illustrations for any rival publishers. This was also an easy request to fulfill as Freeman, Cooper & Co. were engaged in direct competition with only a few other firms.

Their agreement in place, Hayward set to work on new illustrations and an early draft for his geometry of nature book, contacting Freeman regularly to keep him apprised of his progress. By this point in his career, Freeman no longer held his authors to strict deadlines, so long as they did a good job of staying in touch. In their exchange of letters, Freeman provided gentle guidance to Hayward as he developed his text. When Hayward broached the idea of including anecdotes from his personal life in the book, Freeman expressed reluctance. And while he ended up telling Hayward to proceed, he advised caution: too much autobiography could harm an author’s academic authority, he felt, though the right amount of personal narrative could work to forge a deeper connection with students.


Drawing of a Cooper Structure as published by Ruth Walker in October 1973.

Once Freeman had piqued Hayward’s interest with these smaller projects, he unveiled the idea that he was most excited about, an organic chemistry manuscript by Ruth Walker, a chemist at Hunter College. Hayward enthusiastically agreed to provide illustrations for the text, but soon became enmeshed in a familiar set of struggles: when Walker raised concerns about Hayward’s initial drafts, the illustrator refused to make changes.

Most of Walker’s concerns were over small or superficial details in the illustrations, but a particularly contentious debate ultimately led to a significant advancement. As part of his portfolio for the Walker project, Hayward had created a paper model of a tetrahedron that was designed for students to tear out and construct into own molecule. While on board with the idea, Walker claimed that the instructions that Hayward had written were inaccurate and that the overall design was ineffective.

Unable to resolve the debate themselves, Walker and Hayward brought the matter to Freeman. The publisher was intrigued by Hayward’s unique design, but agreed with Walker that it would be difficult for students to follow the instructions that Hayward had provided. As a means of clarification, Freeman suggested a minor modification – the addition of dotted lines to indicate the direction in which students should bend the model. He also promised Hayward that he would collect more authoritative opinions from accomplished chemists and reconvene with him before the publication of the text.

Several of the chemists that Freeman contacted agreed that Hayward’s model was unique and had potential as a teaching tool. When Freeman relayed this feedback to Hayward, the illustrator immediately took steps to patent his design. Freeman assured him that the copyright protecting the material in the book would be sufficient for this purpose as well.


Once it was established that Hayward and, to some extent, Freeman had created something new, Freeman’s associates in the scientific world went about naming the structure. They eventually settled on the Cooper Structure, an obvious source of frustration for Roger Hayward. Peeved, he crafted a short memo to Freeman that was written in the large, bold typeface that he had adopted as a result of worsening eyesight. “For goodness’ sakes,” it read, “What’s wrong with the Hayward Structure?”

Freeman replied that the Hayward Structure was actually the first name that had been proposed, but that the group of scientists couldn’t arrive at a consensus. Some other names they tried included the Freeman Structure, a hopper crystal, a starved tetrahedron (because of the model’s concave sides), an inverted dodecahedron, an instellated polyhedron, a Texas Tetrahedron, and a Cooper Crystal. The Cooper Structure was the name that everyone ultimately agreed upon. Hayward belatedly suggested the HFC Form – for Hayward, Freeman, Cooper – but his suggestion was largely ignored.

Changing tactics, Hayward once again began investigating a patent, arguing that  copyright protections simply prevented anyone from publishing the design. Freeman remained sympathetic to Hayward’s feelings, but firm in his resolution that a patent was not necessary. As time moved forward, Hayward sensed that he was losing the fight and that the process had moved beyond him. In fact, because Freeman’s modification is what made the model effective, Ruth Walker gave him credit for the discovery. In a Journal of Chemical Education article, she wrote

A unique model for illustrating the tetrahedral geometry of sp3 bonding is obtained when the pattern in the figure is cut out and assembled…the resulting structure is a tetrahedron with four recessed faces and a central hole, and has been named the Cooper Structure. Each face is recessed in such a way as to produce a model that clearly shows the relative position of four bands extending from the center of a tetrahedron, one towards each apex. This model was designed by William H. Freeman for inclusion in ‘Organic Chemistry: How to Solve It (I. Molecular Geometry)’ by Ruth A. Walker, after Mr. Freeman observed models made by Roger Hayward, the illustrator of the organic workbook published by Freeman, Cooper and Co. in 1972.

Hayward was somewhat placated by the wording of the article, which let him claim a share of the credit for the design. He proceeded to recommence work on his geometry of nature book, but never finished it as his health problems increased in severity.

Meanwhile, Bill Freeman was also experiencing his share of setbacks. Just before the Cooper Structure conundrum arose he was hospitalized for exhaustion, which slowed production considerably and led to a period of prolonged discouragement. In a letter to Hayward, he made reference to “hurdles, disappointments, problems and shenanigans that I dare not put into print.” And for all the fuss that it caused, Ruth Walker’s book, Organic Chemistry – How to Solve It, sold only 11,000 copies.

Over the course of its history, Freeman, Cooper, and Company experienced moderate success, but never achieved the same fame as its predecessor. Many of the authors who had found their niche at W.H. Freeman & Co. remained loyal to the original company even after its namesake had moved on; indeed, with the notable exception of Roger Hayward, Bill Freeman built his new company largely from scratch. He insisted though, that modest successes did not diminish his passion for the independent press. After he passed away in 1992, Margaret took over the firm and ran it smoothly for a few additional years before letting it go to become another piece of publishing history.

Trouble at Freeman and Co.


A W.H. Freeman catalog from 1986 noting the firm’s long association with Scientific American magazine.

[Exploring Linus Pauling’s relationship with the W.H. Freeman & Co. publishing firm. Part 5 of 8.]

After more than a decade of success in the publishing world, W. H. Freeman and Co. hit a roadblock. The difficulties began with a personal matter that arose in the summer of 1959, when Bill Freeman separated from his wife, the former Verne Kopplin. When divorce papers were ultimately filed the following year, Freeman offered his wife an even division of all their assets, with the notable exception of his stake in the company. Collectively, the couple owned 43% of the firm and Verne insisted that she retain her share. In her communications with Freeman, Verne pointed out they had married in 1946, the same year that the company was founded, and that they had worked together to grow the company to its current stature. As such, she was entitled to a degree of control over its future direction.

From the outside looking in, Linus Pauling maintained a different point of view. In a letter to Freeman, Pauling expressed his feeling that, although Verne – a prominent Bay Area attorney – had previously provided legal services to Freeman & Co., she had, in his opinion, done little to support the company beyond her contributions as a consultant.

The possibility that Verne might retain a claim to the company was one that weighed heavily on Freeman. In a letter to Pauling he revealed that “I find it quite impossible to carry on my work while sharing with her anything of my future.” He also expressed concern that he might lose control of the company were Verne to retain her shares.

Freeman knew that he would not be able to influence Verne’s decisions concerning the direction of the company. He also feared that she was planning to consolidate the stocks held by colleagues and friends to essentially buy the company out from under him.

Pauling did his best to provide a lift in his reply:

I believe that W.H. Freeman and Company, as built up by you, has become the outstanding publisher of college textbooks of the highest quality in the United States…I was so greatly impressed by your ability that I felt that the advantage of having my book [General Chemistry] put out by your firm, because of your extraordinary ability and originality and convictions about the importance of publication of books of high quality, would outweigh the disadvantage of lack of an organization and reputation of long standing.

He concluded that he wouldn’t feel comfortable continuing his association with the company in the event that Verne succeeded in reducing Freeman’s control over it.

So strong was Pauling’s conviction that he expressed a willingness to dramatically increase his skin in the game. Cognizant of the financial burden that the divorce and its aftermath had placed on Freeman, and hoping to ease this burden, Pauling offered to buy Freeman’s stock, which would provide Freeman with the capital to purchase Verne’s shares should he wish. Freeman agreed to the proposition but only on condition that he be given the option to buy his stock back within three years. Pauling was not comfortable with this arrangement and the two failed to arrive at a solution that would satisfy them both.

In the end Verne retained her shares, and once the divorce was settled in the fall of 1960, Freeman continued to spiral. In order to keep Verne from gaining control of the company, he was obliged to purchase at least 200 of her shares at $55 each while also paying the mortgage on the house that they had shared. In a letter to illustrator Roger Hayward, Freeman bemoaned his state of affairs:

Old man Freeman feels like the tempest in a terribly small teapot; no one ever gives any thought to the tempest’s feelings or understands how constrained he feels.

In need of an escape, Freeman took the summer off to travel around Europe. He made it as far as Greece and self-published a book describing his experiences, titled Ola Kala: The Greek Word for It.


An excerpt from Stanley Schaefer’s letter to shareholders written during trying times for the company that he now led. October 1, 1962.

Meanwhile, tensions mounted at W.H. Freeman & Co. as their eponymous leader became increasingly unstable. A growing sentiment among many stockholders was that Freeman would do anything to keep control. As this idea continued to grain traction, executive vice president Stanley Schaefer became nervous about the future of the company and sent out a request to many of the stockholders that they become proxies, thereby granting them the authority to make decisions about the firm.

Finally, in January 1962, Bill Freeman agreed to sell his stock, though he was resistant to sell within the company because of his objections to the firm’s recent association with Scientific American. It is likely that the arrangement with Scientific American was entered into to provide a measure of protection for the company amidst the financial damage caused by Freeman’s divorce. In his correspondence with Pauling – one of the few people at W.H. Freeman & Co. that he still trusted – Freeman railed against the decision and expressed sharp criticisms of Stanley Schaefer and Bill Kaufman as well as other long-timers like Harvey McCaleb and Adam Kudlacik. Pauling balked at these denunciations, pointing out that Freeman had hand-picked these men and needed to trust in their judgment, as Pauling did.

After a different and particularly troubling discussion with Freeman, who sometimes met the Paulings for dinner, Linus reflected on the current state of the company, noting that “Bill and Verne damaged it, neglected it, and [devoted] their energy to fighting each other.” Though he was sympathetic to Freeman’s situation and deeply concerned about his friend, Pauling believed that there was no justification for the damage that Freeman was causing to the company.

Stanley Schaefer also wanted to help and offered to buy Freeman’s stock. When Freeman declined, Schaefer suggested that Scientific American could purchase the shares. Freeman felt that this was not a realistic solution either. He did, however, agree to not sell his stock to a competing company. When Freeman subsequently took a job at Addison-Wesley’s western office, signing a contract that would allow the company to purchase his Freeman & Co. shares, he effectively broke this promise.

When Pauling asked Freeman why he had done this, Freeman confessed that he was too dissatisfied with the present management at Freeman & Co. to consider associating with it anymore. Scientific American stepped in at this point and made an offer for Freeman’s stock that Addison-Wesley could not match. Ava Helen Pauling, who remained a confidant for Freeman, advised him to sell his stock to the magazine publisher. Doing so, she reasoned, could secure a stable future for his children while also providing an avenue for Freeman to leave his old company gracefully.

Freeman reluctantly agreed and Gerald Piel, the president of Scientific American, put the money from this transaction into a trust fund. Trustees “in whose rationality and integrity” the company had confidence would vote at a later date on the matter of what to do with the proceeds. Meanwhile, once Freeman had become associated with Freeman & Co. in name only, Verne also lost interest and refocused her energies on her legal career. She eventually remarried and went on to challenge discriminatory policies at law firms in Connecticut, where she practiced law for several years.

Some time later, having relocated and newly married to his former secretary, Margaret Cooper, Freeman reached out to Ava Helen to explain his behavior. In his letter, he confided

For old times’ sake, I will say to you that I had no alternatives – financial ones possibly, but professional or personal ones, absolutely none…As I’ve said to Linus, until the future speaks, I trust that we can each of us respect the other’s right to act in accordance with his convictions.

The Golden Years: Freeman and Co. in the 1950s


Stanley Schaefer as photographed by the San Francisco Chronicle, 1962.

[Part 4 in our series examining Linus Pauling’s relationship with publisher W.H. Freeman & Co.]

As the 1950s moved forward, W.H. Freeman & Company sought to actively build on past successes. Objective number one in doing so was expanding the number of textbooks that the company published. Objective number two for Bill Freeman was to increase the firm’s staff in order to match editorial and publishing demands.

One of the first employees that Freeman hired when he started his company was Janet MacRorie, the head of marketing. MacRorie and Freeman first collaborated on the advertising and marketing campaign supporting General Chemistry in 1947In the early 1950s, Adam Kudlacik joined the firm as treasurer and secretary, thus beginning a lengthy tenure with the company. Harvey McCaleb also joined the team in 1953 to handle Midwest authors.

Perhaps the most significant addition to Freeman’s staff come on board in 1949, when Stanley Schaefer joined Freeman and John Behnke as one of the firm’s principal editors. The original intention for Schaefer was that he base himself in New York for purposes of recruiting and negotiating with East Coast authors, but Freeman was so impressed with Schaefer’s work that he invited him to move to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco not long after he was hired. Schaefer was pleased with the transfer and, in 1957, was promoted to executive vice-president. (He remained with the company for several decades, eventually becoming president and chairman.) With Schaefer’s promotion, another consequential hire was made when William Kaufman took Schaefer’s old spot on the editorial staff.

Though business had been been strong throughout the post-war period, by the late 1950s Freeman began to worry that the company’s competitors were gaining traction. Looking to bolster his catalog, Freeman decided to re-concentrate efforts to entice respectable authors to sign contracts with Freeman & Co. And while he continued to send outside manuscript proposals to Linus Pauling for the chemistry series that he edited, Freeman also began to query Pauling for ideas on scientific areas that did not currently have a well-written or modern textbook in circulation. He then used this feedback to pinpoint his recruitment of authors to publish within those areas.

Freeman also updated the editorial plan for the book series that Pauling was heading. In particular, Freeman began to push the idea that non-science students could be harnessed to promote what he called “the revolution in scientific education.” Likewise, because Pauling’s groundbreaking General Chemistry text had been so successful, Freeman wanted to publish more non-traditional and experimental books in Pauling’s line.

Pauling didn’t disagree with Freeman’s point of view, but he advised caution. Privately, Pauling was concerned that, in seeking to grow the company, Freeman might begin to adopt selection and recruitment policies that were employed by larger firms. Were he to do so, Pauling worried that Freeman might be tempted to sell the company if it grew beyond him. In Pauling’s opinion, Freeman was fundamental to the company’s success and this success could not continue – at least not in the same way – if Freeman allowed the company to pursue the same models as larger publishing firms.


Despite the hand-wringing, W.H. Freeman & Co. flourished throughout the remainder of the 1950s. A new milestone was reached at the end of the decade, when Freeman announced plans to open a satellite editorial operation in London. The establishment of this branch in 1960 opened new markets for the company in England and elsewhere across Europe, and did much to increase the firm’s appeal among British authors.

Bill Freeman was beginning to receive recognition for his achievements as well. In 1960 he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater Hamilton College, and was also nominated by Pauling as California Industrialist of the Year. Though he didn’t win this award, it meant a great deal to Freeman to know that Pauling respected and admired him enough to nominate him for a prize that celebrated success through creativity and innovation.

Unsurprisingly, the company’s reputation in its hometown was quite strong. On one occasion, the San Francisco Chronicle called Freeman & Co. “a great big sensational success story,” and indeed this was so. At the time, textbook publishing was largely the domain of a handful of companies located on the East Coast. In fact, as the Chronicle article pointed out, there was only one reputable textbook publisher anywhere on the West Coast: W.H. Freeman & Co.

But amidst growth, change and strategic planning, for Freeman the mission statement remained the same. The company, he said, published “only those [books] it thinks are based on a new and advanced viewpoint.” And though the company’s mission was unchanged, its approach to publishing was becoming more experimental. Notably, as the 1960s moved forward, the firm entered into a joint venture with Scientific American to publish off-prints of older articles.

As we will see in our next post, Freeman was not on board with the Scientific American arrangement, a collaboration that emerged out of larger difficulties for the company. In fact, while at the conclusion of the 1950s Freeman could happily describe himself as director of the company but also “semi-retired,” change was very near on the horizon. Comforted for the moment by the glow of hard-earned achievement, the publisher may also have had an inkling of the troubles that would soon arise.