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Charles F. Chandler
(1836-1925)

Charles Frederick Chandler was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts on December 6, 1836, the son of Charles Chandler, a dry goods merchant. As a boy he attended New Bedford High School, where he received his first lessons in chemistry. He worked part-time in his father's store, eventually earning enough money to equip a small chemical laboratory in the attic of his family's home. On summer vacations he lived with his grandfather in Lancaster, an area noted for the variety of interesting minerals found there, including chiastolite (andalusite), petalite, spodumene and others. It happened that the local librarian was also a mineralogist and further stimulated the young boy's interest. Charles' mineral and rock collection grew further through an examination of the ballast rock dumped at New Bedford by whaling vessels. At 14 he was able to attend lectures by the prominent naturalist Louis Agassiz.

After graduating from High School he enrolled in 1853 in the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard and studied chemistry. In 1854 he transferred to the University of Göttingen for a year, bringing with him a small mineral collection to present to the professor there as a gift. Then, in 1855, he moved on to the University of Berlin, where he served as private assistant to Professor Heinrich Rose, and attended the lectures in mineralogy given by Heinrich's brother, Gustav Rose. In 1856 he received his PhD from the University of Göttingen, with a dissertation on the analysis of various minerals.

Returning to America, he served as a lecturer in chemistry, mineralogy and geology at Union College in Schenectady, New York, a post he held for over seven years while rising to the rank of Professor, and publishing numerous articles on the analysis of minerals. His Manual of Qualitative Analysis appeared in 1860. In those days Union College possessed an unusually fine mineral collection which had been assembled by Charles M. Wheatley and purchased for the College (for $10,000) by E.C. Delavan in Albany. The collection attracted mineralogists from all over, including Thomas Egleston in 1864, who hired him away from the College to help found the Columbia School of Mines in New York. A fine cabinet of minerals was donated to the new school by Governeur Kemble and Columbia President Dr. Frederick Barnard.

The new school was an immediate success and grew rapidly. Chandler remained there for the rest of his life, eventually being appointed Dean of the College until 1897, and overseeing the construction of the finest chemical laboratory in the United States before finally retiring in 1911 after 46 years at the school. For many years he had also held positions at the New York College of Pharmacy and the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons. He founded The American Chemist and was a founder of the American Chemical Society. He also made substantial contributions in the area of public health and sanitation, and was prominent as a consulting industrial chemist.

Chandler was intelligent, witty, generous and charming to all, and was universally well loved by his many students and his colleagues alike. He died on August 25, 1925. His mineral collection went to Columbia University.

References:
BOGERT, M.T. (1931) Biographical memoir of Charles Frederick Chandler (1836-1925). National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, 14, 127-.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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