Upon the petitioning from 78 ACS members in 1949, and after a one-year probation period, the Division of Polymer Chemistry (POLY) was officially founded in 1951. Speed Marvel was the division’s first Chairman, W.E. Hanford the Vice Chairman, Herman Mark the Secretary/Treasurer and W.O. Kenyon the Program Chairman. The membership was 414 and the dues were $2. The Chairmen of the four successive years were Hanford, Flory, Fuoss and Mark.
From that beginning, POLY by 1991 had over 8000 members and affiliates (second largest Division in ACS, after the Division of Organic Chemistry) and an annual budget of over $400,000. It published probably the world’s most widely circulated polymer journal – Polymer Preprints. The main reasons for this phenomenal growth can be attributed to the significance of polymers in industry and the contribution of so many people over the years who worked on behalf of POLY. As of 1991, over 100 people served on various POLY committees.
During the early part of POLY’s history (1951-1965), the main thrust of activities centered on National meetings and the Biennial Symposia. These efforts still form the core of POLY’s scientific program. The 10 years from 1966 to 1975 may be regarded as the period of transition and growth. More activities were created and consequently many more people got involved in POLY’s work. Upon streamlining of operations and organizing committees in a line/staff matrix, POLY was transformed into a manageable enterprise. In the subsequent 15 years up to 1991, POLY underwent steady expansion and strengthening of its infrastructure in areas such as technical programs, both within and outside ACS meetings, international relationship and symposia, membership, preprints, library subscriptions and publications. Starting in 1979, successful funding from many industrial sponsors sparked a dazzling array of multi-facet education programs which radiate out to the academic world not familiar with polymers. With internal confidence, in 1976, POLY started its first own award program: the Division of Polymer Chemistry Award. It was then followed successively by other POLY awards: Creative Polymer Chemistry, Polymer Education, Distinguished Service.
Beginning with its founders, POLY has had the fortune of having many talented and dedicated people who served in various functions. Young people and new blood continue to flow into the Division and make it vital. POLY is a responsible giant, exercising its good citizenship within the ACS and standing tall and proud among its scientific peers. The work is not finished. By learning from our own historical development, we believe we have the confidence and energy to grow further and contribute to the world around us.
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