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Albert Fredrick Ottomar Germann

Albert Fredrick Ottomar Germann (February 18, 1886 – December 22, 1976) was an American physical chemist, university professor, and chemical entrepreneur.

Early life and educationEdit

Germann was born in Peru, Miami County, Indiana, eldest child of Mary Fredericke Mueller (1864–1942) and Gustave Adolph Germann (1860–1940). His only sibling was Frank Erhart Emmanuel Germann (1887–1974), who also became a physical chemist. Albert Germann graduated from Peru High School in 1904. Germann taught in Miami County rural schools while working his way through a chemistry major at Indiana University in Bloomington.[1] He received the A.B. in chemistry in 1909 and the A.M. in chemistry in 1910, both from Indiana University, and the M.Sc. degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, also in 1910. He received the Sc.D. degree (doctorat ès sciences physiques et chimiques) from the University of Geneva (Geneva, Switzerland) in 1914 under the guidance of Philippe-Auguste Guye (1862–1922).

Career and researchEdit

Germann's first scholarly publications[2] reported his undergraduate electrochemistry research under the direction of Frank Curry Mathers (1881–1973). His M.Sc. research[3] at Wisconsin was with Joseph Howard Mathews (1881–1970). His Sc.D. thesis was published as Albert-F.-O. Germann, Révision de la densité de l’oxygène, contribution à la détermination de la densité l’air à Genève, thèse no. 514 (Genève: Imprimerie Albert Κündig, 1913, 63 pp.); Journal de Chimie physique, vol. 12 (1914), pp. 66–108.

Germann was on the chemistry faculties of Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (1913–1921), Stanford University, Palo Alto, California (1921–1925), and Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana (1926–1927).

At Western Reserve, he extended his doctoral research,[4][5][6] and then began cryoscopic studies of non-aqueous systems involving boron trifluoride or phosgene. Five students conducted these experiments. Harold Simmons Booth (1891–1953)[7] had already completed his doctoral program[8] at Cornell University. In September 1920, Booth became a member of the Western Reserve chemistry faculty, and was to have a distinguished career as an inorganic chemist at Western Reserve. He served as Department Chair. He was Editor-in-Chief of the inaugural volume (in 1939) of Inorganic Syntheses, a prestigious series that continues. He was promoted to Hurlbut Professor of Chemistry in 1947. Vernon Jersey (1898–1984)[9] had received the A.B. in chemistry from Western Reserve in 1920, and had begun graduate research with Germann on phosgene. He studied solutions of phosgene and chlorine, obtaining cryoscopic evidence for ten different compounds, including chlorine octaphosgenate.[10] Jersey's interests evolved into biochemistry, and he earned a Ph.D.[11] in 1935 from Western Reserve. He then joined with Germann to form Nutritional Research Associates, Inc. Wendell Phillips[12] was beginning his senior year, and would be awarded the A.B. degree in 1921. Leland Roy Smith[13] had received the A.B. degree in 1920, and was beginning graduate studies at Western Reserve; he received the A.M. in 1921, and received the A.M. degree from Harvard University in 1923. Marion Cleaveland (1898–1975)[14] had received the B.A. in chemistry in 1920, and would be awarded the M.A. in 1921. She pursued doctoral studies at Columbia University from 1926 to 1928, receiving the Ph.D.[15] Except for her time at Columbia, she taught at Western Reserve from 1921 to 1946.

At Stanford, Germann focused on phosgene as a liquid solvent.[16] His goal was to develop[17] a solvent-system definition of acids and bases that would apply to compounds dissolved in solvents such as phosgene.

In 1925, Germann became Research Director of Laboratory Products Company. Brothers William Otto Frohring (1893–1959) and Paul R. Frohring (1903–1998) "did groundbreaking laboratory work at the Laboratory Products Co. in Cleveland that produced the first ready-prepared infant formula."[18] Recognizing that the infant-food field was becoming crowded, the Frohring brothers began to diversify research and operations. Germann was recruited to lead the company into specialty biochemicals.

Germann was granted a year leave[19] to take an active role in Lutheranizing a faltering Valparaiso University. He became Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso, Head of the Department of Chemistry, and Acting Dean of the School of Pharmacy. Germann was Acting President of Valparaiso University from May to September, 1927. During that time, the School of Pharmacy was accepted as a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and judged to be conforming to the Association's standards.[20]

Back in Cleveland at Laboratory Products Company, Germann assembled his own research group. The specialty biochemical carotene was prominent in his plans. His associates were Vernon Jersey, Robert John Cross (1884–1955), Otto Ungnade (1883–1963), and Harold Barnett (1903–1956). They intended to capitalize on the vitamin revolution. Germann, Jersey, Cross, and Ungnade founded Nutritional Research Associates, Inc. in 1935 with Albert Germann President.[21] They established research and production facilities[22] in South Whitley, Indiana, for extraction, purification, and stabilization of Vitamin A from carrots and Vitamin E from wheat germ.[23][24]

Personal lifeEdit

Germann married Ida Helene Johanna Meinke (1884–1976) on November 26, 1914. They had four children: Luise Barbara Germann Pook (February 11, 1916 – January 27, 2012), Edith Germann Osborn (September 6, 1917 – March 31, 1990), Lucia May Germann Harley (May 28, 1920 – January 12, 1998), and Albert Fredrick Ottomar Germann II (born January 4, 1929).[25]

Albert Sr. was raised as a member of the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) and as a youngster attended the Lutheran St. John's Christian Day School in Peru.[26] After moving to South Whitley, Ida and Albert joined St. John's Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), six miles east of South Whitley.[27] Both were buried in the St. John's cemetery.[28]


  1. ^ Bodurtha, History of Miami County, p. 456.
  2. ^ Frank C. Mathers and Albert F. O. Germann, “Studies on Perchloric Acid: Mercurous Perchlorate Voltameter,” Indiana University Studies, vol. 1, no. 5 (1910), pp. 41–49; and Frank C. Mathers and Albert F. O. Germann, “Mercurous Perchlorate Electrolytic Meter,” Transactions of the American Electrochemical Society, vol. 19 (1911), pp. 69–80.
  3. ^ J. Howard Mathews and A. F. O. Germann, “The Use of a Dewar Flask in Measurements of Heats of Neutralization,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 15, no. 1 (1911), pp. 73–82. Germann's thesis and this paper were the basis for Experiment 21 (“Heat of Neutralization,” pp. 76–80) in the first edition of Experimental Physical Chemistry (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1929), the popular Wisconsin lab manual.
  4. ^ Albert F. O. Germann, “A Modified Precision Barometer,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 36, no. 12 (December 1914), pp. 2456–2462.
  5. ^ O. F. Tower and A. F. O. Germann, “Vapor Pressures of Certain Alcoholic Solutions,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 36, no. 12 (December 1914), pp. 2449–2456.
  6. ^ Albert F. O. Germann, “The Density of Oxygen,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 19, no. 6 (1915), pp. 437–477.
  7. ^ A. F. O. Germann and H. S. Booth. “I—The Cryoscopy of Boron Trifluoride Solutions: System with Hydrogen Sulfide,” Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, vol. 12, no. 10 (1920), p. 1025.
  8. ^ Harold Simmons Booth, “The Atomic Weight of Nitrogen,” Ph.D. thesis, 1919.
  9. ^ A. F. O. Germann and Vernon Jersey. “II—The Cryoscopy of Boron Trifluoride Solutions: System with Phosgene,” Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, vol. 12, no. 10 (1920), p. 1025.
  10. ^ A. F. O. Germann and V. Jersey, “The Cryoscopy of Phosgene Solutions: I. System with Chloride,” Science (New Series), vol. 53, no. 1382 (1921), p. 582.
  11. ^ Vernon Jersey, “The Hydrolysis of Starch in High Concentrations by Malt Amylase,” Ph.D. thesis, 1935.
  12. ^ A. F. O. Germann and Wendell Phillips. “III—The Cryoscopy of Boron Trifluoride Solutions: Systems with Sulfur Dioxide and with Nitric Oxide,” Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, vol. 12, no. 10 (1920), p. 1025.
  13. ^ A. F. O. Germann and Leland R. Smith. “IV—The Cryoscopy of Boron Trifluoride Solutions: System with Hydrogen Chloride,” Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, vol. 12, no. 10 (1920), p. 1025.
  14. ^ A. F. O. Germann and Marion Cleaveland, “The Cryoscopy of Boron Trifluoride Solutions. V. Systems with Methyl Ether and with Methyl Chloride,” Science (New Series), vol. 53, no. 1382 (1921), p. 582.
  15. ^ Marion Cleaveland, “A Quantitative Study of the Influence of Certain Neutral Salts upon the Activity of Malt Amylase,” Ph.D. thesis, 1929.
  16. ^ Many publications, including “Reactions in Phosgene Solution. I,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 28, no. 8 (August 1924), pp. 879–886; “Densities of Solutions of Aluminum Chloride in Liquid Phosgene,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 29, no. 2 (February 1925), pp. 138–141; “The Conductivity of Phosgene Solutions of Aluminum Chloride at 25º, 0º, and –45º,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 29, no. 9 (September 1925), pp. 1148–1154; and “What is an Acid?” Science (New Series), vol. 61, no. 1568 (January 16, 1925), p. 71.
  17. ^ A. F. O. Germann, “A General Theory of Solvent Systems,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 47, no. 10 (October 1925), pp. 2461–2468.
  18. ^ "Frohring, Paul R.", The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History., accessed April 2, 2017.
  19. ^ Science (New Series), vol. 64, no. 1660 (October 22, 1926), p. 404.
  20. ^ John Strietelmeier, Valparaiso’s First Century: A Centennial History of Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, Indiana: Valparaiso University, 1959), p. 101.
  21. ^ "Percolated Carrots Source of Health," South Whitley [Indiana] Tribune, Thursday, June 28, 1951, pp. 1 and 7.
  22. ^ Marjorie Barnhart, Regional Feature Writer for the Fort Wayne [Indiana] News-Sentinel, “Carrots Get ‘Squeezed’ in Factory Making Vitamin A at South Whitley,” News-Sentinel, September 7, 1946.
  23. ^ "Nutritional Research Celebrates 50th Anniversary This Year," South Whitley Tribune-Pierceton News, Wednesday, February 22, 1984.
  24. ^ "Carrot factory history at SWELP [South Whitley Community Public Library]," Tribune-News, South Whitley, Indiana, vol. 132. no. 34, Wednesday, March 12, 2017, pp. 1–2; "Carrot Factory: South Whitley business featured at library Wednesday evening," Post & Mail, Columbia City, Indiana, Wednesday, April 5, 2017,, accessed May 1, 2017.
  25. ^ Fleck, Parallel Lives, pp. 44–46.
  26. ^ Fleck, Parallel Lives, p. 18.
  27. ^ Fleck, Parallel Lives, pp. 379–381.
  28. ^ Obituary, "Albert Germann," Columbia City (Indiana] Post and Commercial Mail. Wednesday, December 22, 1976.

Further readingEdit

  • Bodurtha, Arthur L., ed., (1914). History of Miami County Indiana: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company), vol. II, p. 456.
  • Fleck, George (2016). Parallel Lives: Two Hoosier Chemists from Peru, The Impress Group, Williamsburg, MA. ISBN 9781532326172.
  • Obituary, "Barbara Pook", South Whitley [Indiana] Tribune-News, February 8, 2012.
  • "Germann, Albert F(rederick) O(ttomar)", Who's Who in Illinois: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Men and Women of the Commonwealth (Chicago: Larkin, Roosevelt & Larkin, Ltd., 1947), vol. 1, pp. 42–43.