Bailar, John Christian (1904-1991) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Bailar, John Christian (1904-1991)

Historical Note:

John Christian Bailar, Jr., (1904-1991) was instructor (1928-30), associate (1930-35), assistant professor (1935-39), associate professor (1939-43), professor (1943-72), and professor emeritus (1972-91) of chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He also served as head of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry (1941-67). He is best known for his pioneering research in the field of coordination chemistry and for his impactful role as educator.

Bailar was born in Golden, Colorado, on May 27, 1904, to Rachel Ella Work and John Christian Bailar. He earned a B.A. (1924) and M.A. (1925) in chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (1928). Bailar joined the staff of the University of Illinois in 1928, and, over the course of his career, became known as a highly effective educator, advising some 90 Ph.D. students during his tenure. His many research interests included homogeneous catalysis, isomerism, polymers, dyestuffs, and solid-state reactions.

Bailar published more than 200 scientific papers; almost 40 articles on chemistry education and the chemistry profession; and 11 textbooks and monographs. He was cofounder (and editor in 1959) of the Inorganic Syntheses series (1953) and cofounder of Inorganic Chemistry (1962). Bailar served as president of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1959, and he was widely recognized in the field of chemistry. His awards included the ACS Award in Chemical Education (1961), ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (1972), the ACS Priestly Medal (1964), the Alfred Werner Gold Medal of the Swiss Chemical Society (1966), Heyrovsky Medal of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Science (1978), and the Chernyaev Jubilee Medal of the Kurnakov Institute of Moscow (1989). In 1972, the UIUC Chemistry Department established the Bailar Medal and Lectureship to recognize achievements in inorganic chemistry research. The Bailar twist in coordination compounds is named in his honor.

Bailar was married to Florence Catherwood and had two sons, one of which was the academic John Christian Bailar III (1932-2016). He died in Urbana, Illinois, on October 17, 1991.


Wikipedia, s.v. "John C. Bailar Jr.," accessed May 6, 2020,

"About John C. Bailar, Jr.," UIUC Department of Chemistry, accessed May 6, 2020,

Gregory S. Girolami, "John C. Bailar, Jr. 1904-1991: In Memoriam," Inorganic Chemistry 31, no. 15 (July 1, 1992): 3183â??3184, accessed January 11, 2021,

"John Christian Bailor III: 1932-2016," accessed January 14, 2021,

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