Dr. Hoylande Denune Young

    Young_HolyandeJune, 2005:

    Every month a member of the Women's Chemist Committee is asked to choose a female chemist that they would like to write an article about for the Chemical Bulletin. Well, my month came and went as I tried to select someone for whom I felt a kinship to. At first, my thoughts were to find a chemist who was a working mother like me, but in the back of my mind I wasn't comfortable. I have always been active in the Chicago Section, so I wondered who the first female chair of this Section was. I looked through the names of the chairs of this section and thought that it was Margaret Huston (1980). I felt comfortable since she was probably the first female chemist to make me feel welcome in the Section. I reached for the phone and gave her a call and asked her permission to write an article about her. During our conversation, I found out she wasn't the first female chair but the second. She informed me that the first female chair of the Chicago Section was Hoylande Denune Young. 

    I began my search for information about this woman. I thought how hard could this be. This article is based on several months of research since over the years Dr. Young, like many other woman chemist of her time, fell through the cracks and very little was recorded about her life. 

    Before I begin her tale, I would like to thank the many people who helped in my search:  Margaret Huston, the second chair of the Chicago Section; a reference librarian at the Wheaton Public Library; Catherine Foster of Argonne National Labs; Carolyn L. Herzenberg who co-authored the book "Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project"; Deter Gruen; Margaret Butler; Gail Wilkening, office manager of the Chicago Section; and finally Andrea Twiss-Brooks of The John Crerar Library of The University of Chicago. Most of the biographical material for this article was taken from "Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project" by Ruth H. Howes and Caroline L. Herzenberg, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1999, pgs. 75-76, 187 and 194.

    Hoylande Denune Young was born June 26, 1903 in Columbus, Ohio. Her interest in chemistry began in high school. In those days, girls usually were not allowed to take as rigorous a course as boys took in chemistry. During high school, she was allowed to take the boys' chemistry course only because she could not fit the girls' course into her schedule. She went on to receive her B.S. in chemistry from Ohio State University in 1922. Young went on to earn her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The University of Chicago in 1926. Her dissertation was under Julius Stieglitz and was titled "Stereoisomeric Bromoimino Ketones". The worked involved hand separation of individual crystals and the distillation of bromine. Records show that she joined the American Chemical Society and the Chicago Section prior to earning her Ph.D.

    After graduate school, she began her career in 1926 as research chemist at Van Schaack Brothers Chemical Works in the lacquer industry. She left Van Schaack Brothers in 1930 and accepted a position with the College of Industrial Arts of Texas State College for Women in Denton, Texas. Young was an assistant professor of chemistry from 1930 until 1934, teaching nutrition and biochemistry. She left to accept a research position at Michael Reese Hospital but lost the position when they learned she was a woman. She became a consultant from 1934 until 1938, at which point she was offered an industrial chemist position with Pure Oil Company. She worked there until 1942. During this time she collaborated with Cary Wagner to write a book on petroleum refining. She worked on it for six years, but the book was never published.

    In 1942, she accepted a position with the University of Chicago as a scientific librarian with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in the toxicity labs, which was a site for research on chemical warfare. Her work included collecting information from British and American reports and putting together a "master index" of toxic compounds. This information was disseminated in American, British and Canadian chemical warfare laboratories. She remained there until 1945, where she was reassigned to the Metallurgical Laboratory as a senior chemist. This is when Young began her work as both a chemist and general editor on the Manhattan Project. She edited papers published in the National Nuclear Energy Series, the Atomic Energy Commission's report of wartime research on nuclear energy. She also participated in meetings of the laboratory council. 

    Dr. Young left the Manhattan Project in 1946 to become the first female division director at Argonne National Laboratory. Her official title was Director of Technical Information. She remained in that position until her retirement in 1964. During this time, she became the first woman chair of the Chicago Section, American Chemical Society, in 1956. She was also a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an active member of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. Argonne established the Hoylande D. Young lecture series in 1963 in her honor under the auspices of the Research Society of America. Dr. Young went on to marry Crawford Failey who was a friend from her days in the Toxicity Laboratory.

    Dr. Young was very involved with the Chicago Section. Records show that she served on many committees, including bylaws, endowment, nominating, office affairs and policy. She was a director for four years, as well as vice chair of the Section. She was also a councilor and alternate councilor between the years of 1948 to 1972. Dr. Young was also involved in setting up the award committee for the Distinguished Service Award and acted as chair of the nominating committee for this award. The Chicago Section presented Dr. Hoylande D. Young Failey with the Distinguished Service Award on April 25, 1975.

    Dr. Young was very active in Iota Sigma Pi and on the National ACS Women's Service Committee. Margaret Huston, our second chair of the Chicago Section describes her as a very intelligent, warm and friendly individual. She is described in the Distinguished Service Award Booklet as a non-woman's libber, but has done more to advance the cause and recognition for women chemist in the Society and the Section. Dr. Hoylande Denune Young Failey passed away January 12, 1986. It is a shame that the history of this woman is all but forgotten in the Chicago Section Archives but luckily for us saved by the authors of "Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project", Ruth H. Howes and Caroline L. Herzenberg.

    — Written by Fran Kravitz