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Chemicals at War: World War I and Economic Nationalism

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Lewes Public Library

111 Adams Avenue

Lewes, DE 19958

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Germany pioneered the development of the synthetic organic chemicals industry in the late 1800s. By 1914, the German firms provided 90 percent of the world's market in synthetic dyes and pharmaceuticals like aspirin, the "high tech" industry of the era. When World War I interrupted the supply of German chemicals to the United States and then made the United States and Germany into enemies, Americans made it a patriotic mission to manufacture "German" chemicals in the United States. Building capacity in a complicated industry proved immensely challenging, and Americans adopted a variety of government policies, including confiscating German subsidiaries and intellectual property. Throughout the 1920s, Americans strove to discover new synthetic organic chemicals they could call their own.

This lecture is by Dr. Kathryn Steen. Dr. Steen is an Associate Professor of History at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she focuses on the history of industry, technology, and business. She received her PhD from the University of Delaware.

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Lewes Public Library

111 Adams Avenue

Lewes, DE 19958

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