B. Smith Hopkins Papers, 1917-19, 1923-52, 1954-56, 1961, 1963
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Brief Description:

Papers of B. Smith Hopkins (1873-1952), professor of inorganic chemistry (1923-41), including correspondence with J. Allen Harris (Canada), Leonard F. Yntema, Charles James, William A. Noyes, David Kinley, Gerald Druce (England), G. Hevesy (Copenhagen), Manne Siegbahn (Upsala), R. J. Meyer (Berlin), S. Urbain (Paris), Luigi Rolla (Florence) and other chemists relating to research work on the rare earths, fractionation of rare earth solutions, element 61 or "illinium," shipment and use of rare earth salts, ionic migration method of separating rare earth, x-ray spectrographic analysis of rare earths, Hopkins' faculty appointment (1919), work of graduate students, textbooks and revisions, x-ray equipment, laboratory notebooks (1925-31), chemical manufacturing and Hopkins' genealogy. The papers include a posthumous list of Hopkins' publications, 12 books and 129 articles, copies of five articles (1924-44), three editions of his General Chemistry for College (1930, 1937, 1951), an edition of Essentials of Chemistry (1946) and a bound volume of his articles (1905-48).

Mrs. Hopkins' correspondence (1948, 1952, 1954-56, 1961, 1963) concerns the analysis of illinium samples by C. C. Kiess of the Bureau of Standards; efforts to locate samples lost by Argonne National Laboratories and F. Weigel's attempts to secure a sample for analysis. The series contains spectrography plates from Illinium analyses, a graph template of "Concentration of Illinium" and a box of chemicals.

Held at:
University of Illinois Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 333-0798
Fax: (217) 333-2868
Email: illiarch [at] illinois.edu
Record Series Number: 15/5/22
Created by: Hopkins, B. Smith (1873-1952)
Volume: 1.0 cubic feet
Acquired: 2/24/1964
Arrangement: Chronological.
Biographical Note for Hopkins, B. Smith (1873-1952) :

B. Smith Hopkins (1873-1952) was instructor (1912-14); associate (1914-17); assistant professor (1917-19); associate professor (1919-23); professor of chemistry (1923-41); head of the Division of Inorganic and General Chemistry (1923-41); and professor emeritus (1941-52) at the University of Illinois (UI). Hopkins was a noted educator and chemist who made significant contributions to the early study of rare earths.

Hopkins was born in Owosso, Michigan, on September 1, 1873, to parents Clara Sibley Norgate and Loren Hopkins. He earned a BA from Albion College (1896) and began his career as a public school teacher at Menominee Michigan Public Schools (1897-1900 and 1901-04). He went on to earn a MA from Columbia University (1901), and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University (1906), where he studied under chemist Harmon Northrup Morse (1848-1920). Hopkins held positions at Nebraska Wesleyan University (1906-09) and Carroll College (1909-12) before joining the faculty at UI in 1912 as an instructor of chemistry. At UI, his primary research interest became the separation, characterization, and determination of rare earths and metals. In 1926, Hopkins (with Leonard Yntema and J. Allen Harris) discovered element 61, which he named illinium. However, this discovery ultimately could not be proven and "repeated attempts failed to concentrate this element [now known as promethium] any further" ("Noyes Laboratory). His research was ultimately instrumental in the US Atomic Energy Commission's studies of uranium (Courier).

Hopkins was married (1901-38) to Sarah Maude Childs until her death in 1938, and together they had two sons. He was subsequently married to fellow chemist May L. Whitsitt. He died on August 26, 1952, in Urbana, Illinois.


"Noyes Laboratory at the University of Illinois, B. Smith Hopkins (1873-1952): Chemistry of Rare Earths," American Chemical Society (ACS), accessed May 7, 2020,  https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/noyeslaboratory.html

"Separation of Rare Earth Elements by Charles James, Discovery of the Rare Earth Elements," American Chemical Society (ACS), accessed May 7, 2020,  https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/earthelements.html.

"Services Saturday for Noted U.I. Organic Chemist," The Champaign-Urbana Courier, August 26, 1952.

Subject Index
Argonne National Laboratory
Faculty Papers
Inorganic Chemistry
Rare Earths
Spectrographics Analysis
X-Ray Analysis
Genres/Forms of Material
Languages of Materials
English [eng]