Parr, Samuel W. (1857-1931) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Parr, Samuel W. (1857-1931)

Historical Note:

Samuel Wilson Parr (1857-1931) was professor of chemistry (1891-1926); director of chemistry laboratory instruction (1904â??07); and professor emeritus (1926-31) at the University of Illinois (UI). Parr was noted for his contributions to industrial and engineering chemistry, particularly the chemistry of coal and coal products. He established the first curriculum for chemical engineering at UI.

Parr was born in Granville, Illinois, on January 21, 1857, to parents Elisabeth F. Moore and James Parr. He earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois (1884) and M.S. from Cornell University (1885). He was instructor (1885-86) and professor of general science (1886-91) at Illinois College and returned to UI in 1891 as professor of applied chemistry in 1891. During his time at UI, he researched the chemistry of coal, creating instruments to analyze its properties, including the calorimeter for coal (1900); total carbon apparatus (1903); sulphur photometer (1903); calorimeter for gas (1910); the calorimeter bomb (1912); and blast burner (1895 and 1912). Parr founded the Standard Calorimeter Company (now the Parr Instrument Company) in 1899 in Champaign, Illinois. Parr also extensively researched alloys, which resulted in his discovery of the corrosion-resistant, nonferrous alloy illium for industrial use in boilers, which he name for the UI. Parr created an effective coking process for bituminous coal, which "contributed to the development of the extensive bituminous coal fields in Illinois" (ACS). In 1901, he established the first curriculum for the Department of Chemical Engineering at UI.

Parr married Lucie A. Hall in 1887, and together they had two children. He retired in 1926 from UI and served as President of the American Chemical Society in 1928. He died in Urbana, Illinois, in 1931.

The UIUC Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering's Parr Lecture series is named in his honor.


"The Parr Lecture," Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (UIUC), accessed May 15, 2020,

"Parr, Samuel Wilson (1857â??1931)," Department of Chemistry (UIUC), accessed May 15, 2020,

"Samuel Wilson Parr (1857-1931): Applied Chemistry," Noyes Laboratory at the University of Illinois, American Chemical Society (ACS), accessed May 15, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "Samuel Wilson Parr," accessed May 15, 2020,

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