Guide to the Papers of Warren K. Lewis
MC.0578

Summary Information

Repository
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
Creator
Lewis, Warren Kendall, 1882-1975
Title
Warren K. Lewis papers
ID
MC.0578
Date [inclusive]
1898-1990
Extent
1.3 cubic feet (4 manuscript boxes)
Location
Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.
Language
English
Abstract
This collection contains material by and about Warren K. Lewis, who was instrumental in establishing chemical engineering as an independent discipline. He was a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1910 until his death in 1975, having served as the first head of the newly established Department of Chemical Engineering from 1920 to 1929. The collection includes a number of Lewis’s speeches and publications that reveal his philosophy of chemical engineering as a profession, but there is little material about his work as a consultant to industry and the government. Biographical materials in the collection include a recorded interview of Lewis conducted by his granddaughter, Rosalind Williams, who later became Professor of the History of Science and Techology at MIT.

Citation

Warren K. Lewis Papers, MC 578, box X. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Biography

Warren K. Lewis, 1882-1975, SB, 1905, MIT; PhD in chemistry, 1908, University of Breslau, Germany, became assistant professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1910 and professor of chemical engineering in 1914. From 1920 to1929 he served as the first head of the newly established Department of Chemical Engineering. He then returned full time to teaching and research.

Warren K. Lewis played a significant role in establishing chemical engineering as an independent discipline. He collaborated with William H. Walker and W. H. McAdams in writing the textbook Principles of Chemical Engineering. After its publication in 1923 it became the standard for students of the field.

Lewis's research interests were many, but of particular significance is the development of new methods for refining petroleum. In the 1920s, as a consultant to Standard Oil of New Jersey, Lewis’s work on fluidized powders and the control of their movement in a chamber led to the development of a process for producing high-octane fuels, a great advantage to Allied air power in World War II. During World War I, Lewis worked on gas defense with the Chemical Warfare Service and the Bureau of Mines. In World War II Lewis was a member of the National Defense Research Committee and an advisor to the Office of Production Research and Development. He also served as a member of the Senior Advisory Committee for the Manhattan Project. (1)

From 1947 to 1949 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Warren K. Lewis chaired a committee appointed by the MIT faculty, the Committee on Educational Survey, to examine the principles of education that had guided academic policy at MIT and determine if they were applicable to the new post-war world. This influential committee set in place organizational and curriculum changes that served as the standard for future Institute committees and review efforts. Lewis was so closely associated with the work of the committee that the committee's final report is known at MIT as the "Lewis Report.” Lewis became professor emeritus in 1948 but continued teaching as a department lecturer.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recognized his achievements by establishing the Warren K. Lewis Professorship of Chemical Engineering in 1969, and the Department of Chemical Engineering honored him by establishing in 1978 the annual Warren K. Lewis Lectureship which features speakers from industry and universities.

Warren K. Lewis was born in Laurel, Delaware, where he attended local schools and then a year of high school in Newton, Massachusetts, before entering MIT in 1901. He married Rosalind Kenway in 1909. They had four children, Rosalind (Mrs. George McFarland), Mary (Mrs. Cherry Emerson), Warren K. Lewis, Jr., and H. Clay Lewis. Rosalind H. Williams, granddaughter of Warren K. and Rosalind D. Lewis, is the Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.

(1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, News Office Release, March 11, 1975

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection contains material by and about Warren K. Lewis. His ties with his family are evident through correspondence between him and his children and grandchildren. Of interest is a tape of a 1970 interview of Warren K. Lewis conducted by his grandaughter Rosalind Williams, who later became a professor of the history of science and technology at MIT in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

There is also summary historical information about his career, including his consulting work with Esso Research and Standard Oil (now Exxon-Mobil) and evidence of his role with World War II government consulting work, although detailed technical information and reports are not included. There are few technical publications, although a list of his technical research publications is included. There are note cards kept by Lewis which he used for speeches and articles, and among the speeches and publications in the collection are those that reveal his philosophy of chemical engineering as a profession.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections

MIT Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139-4307
617.253.5690
mithistory@mit.edu

Revision Description

  2011

Access note

The collection is open for research.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Institute Archives and Special Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Rosalind D. Lewis letters, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, MC 487.

Rosalind H. Williams papers, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, MC 639.

Committee on Educational Survey records, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, AC 124.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Lewis, Warren Kendall, 1882-1975

Subject(s)

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1. Biographical Materials 

Box

Lewis family tree 

1

1890 family history of Captain Kendall M. Lewis, 1798-1801 

1

Warren K. Lewis diary 1898 January to March 

1

Warren K. Lewis letter 1963 June 

1

Warren K. Lewis letter to Rosalind H. Williams 1969 October 21 

1

Letter to Rosalind H. Williams circa 1970s 

1

Warren K. Lewis letter to Rosalind McFarland early 1970s 

1

Interview of Warren K. Lewis, by Rosalind H. Williams 1971 July 

1

Notes for speeches, interview 1971 

1

Notes by H. Clay Lewis, 1977, on A Dollar for A Donut (book of anecdotes about Warren K. Lewis printed in 1953) 1977 

1

Correspondence about Warren K. Lewis biography for Modern Scientists and Engineers 1978-1979 

1

H. Clay Lewis letter to Rosalind Williams on catalytic cracking 1979 February 

1

Warren K. Lewis, Jr. draft article on catalytic cracking 

1

Catalytic cracking background and patent Information 

1

Division of Rubber Chemistry, History of Chemical Engineering 1966-1967 

1

H. Clay Lewis correspondence with W. K. Lewis, Jr. and Rosalind H. Williams about Warren K. Lewis 1978-1981 

1

H. Clay Lewis correspondence with Fred H. Kant, Exxon 1981 

1

H. Clay Lewis, John Servos, Rosalind H. Williams correspondence 1982 

1

Rosalind H. Williams letter 1981 

1

“On the Octane Trail,” by Rosalind H. Williams, Technology Illustrated 1983 

1

Rosalind H. Williams letter about Warren K. Lewis’s childhood in Laurel, Delaware 1995 

1

Academy of Arts and Sciences election 1915 

2

Perkin Medal 1936 

2

New England Award, Engineering Societies of New England 1950 

2

American Petroleum Institute Gold Medal 1957 

2

Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, American Chemical Society 1957 

2

John Fritz Medal 1966 

2

Tech Talk article about Warren K. Lewis 1969 October 27 

2

“Doc Lewis of MIT,” Chemical Engineering Education 1970 fall 

2

Warren K. Lewis, obituaries 1975 

2

“Chemical Engineers,” by Olaf Hougen, ChemTech 1979 January 

2

“The Problem-Solver,” by Thomas P. Hughes, American Heritage 1989 December 

2

“America’s High-Tech Triumph,” by Ralph Landau, nvention and Technology, vol. 6, no. 2 1990 fall 

2

“Warren Kendall Lewis, a biographical memoir by Hoyt C. Hottel”, National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, vol. 70 1996 

2

Lewis family correspondence about Shun-ichi Uchida's article on Tamakichi Yoshikawa 1926, 1986 

2

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 Series 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Box

Course notes, 10.301, Synthesis and Design, Chemical Physics, Applications of Field Theory 

2

Proposed Program in Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT 1946 June 6 

2

MIT Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Education 1946 

2

Establishment of the Warren K. Lewis Professorship of Engineering at MIT 1969 

2

Esso Foundation 1972 

2

Report of the Committee on Educational Survey December 1949 

2

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 Series 3. Speechs and Publications 

Box

Publications of Professor W.K. Lewis circa 1951 

3

“Chemical Engineering—a New Science" undated 

3

“The Contribution of Applied Science to Modern Life" undated 

3

“Energy Resources" undated 

3

“Evening Speech" undated 

3

“Engineering as a Profession,” draft undated 

3

“The Future of Engineering as a Profession" undated 

3

“Logic in Science" undated 

3

“Motivation in Industry" undated 

3

“Production Analysis" undated 

3

“Speech before the New Jersey Section" undated 

3

“Speech notes" undated 

3

Priestly Lecture 1936 

3

“Russell as I Know Him.” The Chemist 1946 June 

3

AIC Gold Medal Acceptance Address, “The Professional Responsibilities of the Technical Man" 1949 May 

3

“The Professional Responsibilities of the Technical Man”, The Chemist, vol. 26, no. 6 1949 June 

3

“Solves Internal Energy Problems,” Chemical Engineering 1949 August 

3

“Metallurgy,” lecture 1951 November 1 

3

“Functions and Responsibilities of the Chemist in Industry" 1952 April 

3

“The Functions and Responsibilities of the Chemist in Industry,” summary of April 10, 1952 address, The Nucleus 1952 June 

3

“The Place of Chemistry in the Liberal Arts Curriculum,” Bowdoin 1952 June 

3

“Chemical Engineering: A New Science,” Chemical Engineering Progress, pp. 23-25. 1953 January 

3

“Engineering as a Profession,” Eighth Annual Institute Lecture, American Institute of Chemical Engineers 1956 December 

3

“Engineering Today,” Chemical Engineering Progress 1957 March 

3

“The Engineering Profession,” Houston, Texas 1958 May 28 

3

“Evolution of the Unit Operations,” Chemical Engineering Progress Symposium Series, vol. 55, no. 26 1959 

3

Speech about William H. Walker, October 23, 1959, and William H. Walker letter to “Allen,” February 23, 1934 

3

“The Place of Engineering in Society and Civilization,” paper read before the Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Engineering Society in Baton Rouge 1961 January 13 

3

“Man’s Use of Energy,” speech at Alumni Conference at MIT 1963 

3

“Reminiscences of William H. Walker, Chemical Engineering’s 50th Anniversary” 

3

“The Place of Engineering in Society and Civilization,” Technology Review 1968 May 

3

“Doc” Lewis Speech, 50th Anniversary of the Department of Chemical Engineering, transcript 1970 October 

3

“Doc” Lewis Speech, 50th Anniversary of the Department of Chemical Engineering, cassette tape and CD 1970 October 

3

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 Series 4. Government Consulting Records 

Box

Notes 1943 

4

Notes 1943-1944 

4

Notes 1944 

4

W. K. Lewis contracts 1943 

4

Document receipts and inventories 1942-1944 

4

Receipts of classified material 1942-1948 

4

Receipts, correspondence, draft report 1942-1944 

4

Correspondence 1942-1943 

4

Correspondence, Hauser 1944 

4

OSRD report #4225. 1944 September 8 

4

War Metallurgy Division Advisory Report, volume 1 1946 February 15 

4

War Metallurgy Division Advisory Report, volume 2 1946 February 15 

4

Document classification cancellation 1956 

4

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