Bartow, Edward (1870-1958) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Bartow, Edward (1870-1958)

Historical Note:

Edward Bartow (1870-1958) was associate professor of chemistry (1905-06) and professor of chemistry (1905-20) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was a leading educator and expert in the field of sanitary chemistry, developing new methodologies in drinking water purification and wastewater treatment.

Bartow was born in Glenham, New York, on January 12, 1970, to parents Sarah Jane (nee Scofield) and Charles Edward Bartow. He graduated from Williams College in 1892 with a B.A. in science and mathematics. After working as an assistant in chemistry at Williams College following his studies, he entered Gottingen University in Germany as a graduate student. Studying under future Nobel Prize-winner Otto Wallach, he explored a variety of derivatives of meta-isocymene and earned his PhD in 1895. He returned to Williams College as an instructor of chemistry in 1896 and later worked at the University of Kansas as assistant professor of chemistry (1899-1905). He moved to UI in 1905 as associate professor of chemistry (1905-06) and director of the Illinois State Water Survey (1905-17), and he was later promoted to professor of sanitary chemistry at UI (1906-20); and chief of the Illinois Water Survey Department (1917-20). While at UI, he developed standards in water purification treatments and methodologies, leading the effort to eradicate typhoid. Beginning in 1914, he investigated activated sludge sewage treatment, ultimately conducting the "first successful large-scale activated sludge experiments in the United States" (Kirkpatrick, 5842/5843). And he also led the way in treating "industrial wastes for the prevention of stream pollution" (Kirkpatrick, 5843). He left UI for the University of Iowa in 1920, where he served as head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and professor of chemistry (1920-40), retiring as professor emeritus in 1940.

During WWI, Bartow served as a Major and Lieutenant Colonel in the Sanitary Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces (1917-18). He helped devise a superchlorination process to create safe drinking water from the Seine River and organized mobile water analysis laboratories for US troops. He was recognized by the French Government for his military service with the Medaille d'Honneur des Epidemies d'Argent; he also received an honorary doctorate in science from Williams College in 1923. Active in his field throughout his professional career, he served as Vice President of the International Chemical Association (1934-38) and President of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1936. In 1946, he was given life membership to the American Society of Civil Engineering.

Bartow was married to Alice Abbott, on September 3, 1895, and together they had one daughter, Virginia (1896-1980) who was a chemistry professor at UI. He died on April 12, 1958.


Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, "Edward Bartow, 1970â??1958," Journal of the American Chemical Society 81, no. 22 (December 1959): 5841â??45. Accessed May 13, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "Edward Bartow," accessed May 13, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "Edward Bartow," accessed December 18, 2020,

Page Generated in: 0.091 seconds (using 44 queries).
Using 5.9MB of memory. (Peak of 6.07MB.)

Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-3
Copyright ©2017 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign