Michelson, Albert Abraham, Document Signed. Doctoral Diploma for Dr. Alan Wilfrid Cranbrook Menzies in Chemistry and Physics, the only degree available for a physical chemist in 1910. Also signed by Johannes (John) Ulric Nef, George Edgar Vincent, Alonzo Ketcham Parker, Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed, Martin Antonio Ryerson and Harry Pratt Judson. Vellum, 37.5 cm x 49 cm, the diploma form was engrossed by noted Chicago calligrapher and illuminator Coella Lindsay (“C.L.”) Ricketts (1859 – 1941), who operated The Scriptorium in Chicago, with his tell-tale pin holes marking out the document for engrossing. A. A. Michelson (1852 – 1931) was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for work done in physics, and the second American ever, after President Theodore Roosevelt, to win a Nobel Prize. Michelson won the Nobel in 1907 “for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid,” resulting from the Michelson-Morely experiments. Michelson was teaching at the University of Chicago at the time of the award. His work laid the essential groundwork for Einstein’s theory of relativity.
John Ulric Nef (1862 – 1915) was a Swiss-born American chemist, remembered for his discovery of the “Nef reaction.” George Edgar Vincent (1864 – 1941) was a sociologist in the first university sociology department at the University of Chicago. Vincent signs here as the Dean of the Faculty. Alonzo Ketcham Parker was a Baptist minister and signs here as the University Recorder. Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed (1842 – 1927) developed the concept of a modern university, which he saw come to fruition in the University of Chicago, of which he, as a Baptist minister, became the first president. He signs here as a trustee. Martin Antonio Ryerson (1856 – 1932) was a long-term trustee of the University of Chicago and a local industrialist, who made large contributions for the construction of buildings on the University of Chicago campus. Harry Pratt Judson (signed here as “Henricus”) 1849 – 1927 was first a professor of political science, then the second president of the University of Chicago, and signs here as Praeses Universitatis.
Alan W.C. Menzies (1877 – 1966) was a pioneering physical-chemist, whose distinguished career ended as a tenured professor and researcher at Princeton University (1914 – 1944). Dr. Menzies took his M.A. at Edinburgh in 1897 and his B.S. there in 1898. This document is his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago jointly in Chemistry and Physics. He used his skills during the First World War to determine the chemical composition of the poison gases used by the Germans. His invention of new apparatus, the isoteniscope, was put to wide practical use in determining the molecular weights and vapor pressures of substances (ebullioscopy) for the National Research Council and the Department of Science and Research of the Council on National Defense, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Technology. Also during World War I, Dr. Menzies advised the Bureau of Mines, within the Department of the Interior, as he also advised the Chemical Warfare Service within the War Department. His new apparatus was vital in the identification and successful analysis of unknown chemical agents first used on the battlefields of France by Germany (in particular, bromo-acetone) and later in the production of similar agents by the Allies.
Sold with an off-print of A. A. Michelson’s Radiation in a Magnetic Field, which bears an inscription, “With the Author’s Compliments,” in a hand not believed to be Michelson’s. Documents signed by Michelson, are rare, as he donated his papers to his alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. Doctoral diplomas signed by Michelson are very rare.