Guide to the Sylvia M. Stoesser papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1952-1992
Creator: Stoesser, Sylvia M. (1901-1991)
Extent: 9.00 items.
Collection Number: IWA0047
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: University of Iowa graduate in 1928 with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. She was the first woman chemist to work for Dow Chemical Company.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 videocassette [V42]

Arrangement: One folder, shelved in SCVF.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright has not been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 101) were donated by Judy Jaastad in 1991.

Preferred Citation: Sylvia M. Stoesser papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Biographical Note

Sylvia M. Goergen was born on July 18, 1901 in Buffalo, New York. She earned her B.A. from the University of Buffalo in 1923 and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1928. Goergen married Wesley C. Stoesser in 1929 and was hired along with her husband by Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, that same year. Sylvia Stoesser was hired directly by H. H. Dow, foregoing the usual hiring procedure, since women were not considered part of the Dow workforce in the 1920s. She was the first woman hired as a physical chemist and the only Ph.D. in the group. Stoesser assisted with writing the first complete book published on styrene, Styrene: Its Polymers, Copolymers and Derivatives, published in 1952. She contributed a chapter to the publication A History of the Dow Physics Lab, published in 1990. During her ten years of working for Dow, Stoesser earned twenty-nine patents.

Content Description

The Sylvia M. Stoesser papers date from 1952 to 1992 and consist of 9 items. They include an obituary, abstracts of the patents of Sylvia Stoesser (1929-1947), Michigan Women's Hall of Fame candidate nomination forms (1992); photocopies of newspaper clippings, and a copy of the Dow Chemical Company newsletter, Dow Today (1991) announcing a television commercial highlighting Stoesser's achievements. A videocassette of the 30-second television commercial "Inspiration" is shelved in the audiocassette collection. Also included is a paper on Styrene presented to the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting in 1990 by James J. Bohning in which Stoesser's role at Dow is discussed.  The title of the paper is, "Subterfuge and Patriotism: Styrene at Dow for the World War II Synthetic Rubber Program."
A History of The Dow Chemical Physics Lab and Styrene, Its Polymers, Copolymers, and Derivatives, are shelved in the printed works collection.

Detailed Description of the Collection

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This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Stoesser, Sylvia M., 1901-1991

Corporate Names:
State University of Iowa
Dow Chemical Company
Dow Chemical Physics Lab

20th century

Chemistry, Physical and theoretical
Chemical engineering laboratories
Women in chemistry
World War, 1939-1945
Rubber, Artificial
Women and war
Industrial property


Geographic Names:
United States -- Michigan -- Midland

Genre/Form of Materials:
Personal papers
Video recordings

Women in Wartime
Women and War