Scope and Contents
Call Number: SC1104
Leighton, Philip Albert, 1897-1983.
Stanford University. Dept. of Chemistry
Title: Philip Albert Leighton papers
Dates: circa 1897-1983
18 Linear feet 30 boxes (27 manuscript boxes, 2 cartons, 1 flat box)
Language(s): The materials are in English.
Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives.
Stanford University Libraries.
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6064
Phone: (650) 725-1022
This collection was given by Philip D. Leighton to Stanford University, Special Collections in October 2013.
Information about Access
The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted
to a digital use copy.
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[identification of item], Philip Albert Leighton papers (SC1104). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford
University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Philip Albert Leighton was born in Covina, California in 1897. He attended Pomona College where he earned and an A.B. degree
in chemistry in 1920 and an A.M. degree in 1923. In 1923, Leighton began graduate work at Harvard University, which led to
the A.M. degree in chemistry in 1925 and the Ph.D. in 1927. After spending a year in Munich as a Sheldon Traveling Fellow,
Leighton joined the Stanford faculty as an instructor in chemistry. He became full professor in 1937 and in1939, Leighton
was named Executive Head of Chemistry, a position he held until 1954. He also served as Chairman of the Department of Physical
Sciences from 1940 to 1942 and Dean of the School of Physical Sciences from 1946 to 1950.
Between 1942 and 1945, Leighton served as Director of Operations of Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, a major civilian and military
research and development center. Shortly after his appointment, he was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and subsequently
of Colonel in the United States Army. Upon completion of this duty, he was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal in recognition
of his "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States.
Immediately after his return to Stanford in 1945, Leighton was appointed by president Tresidder to a committee to consider
the advisability of the University's establishing a research institute. The idea of such an institute was conceived in the
late 1930s by R. E. Swain, Phil's predecessor as department chairman, and Leighton. The report of this committee, which consisted
of Swain, Leighton and a prominent Stanford alumnus, Dudley Swim, played an important role in the founding of Stanford Research
In 1954, Leighton retired from his teaching and administrative duties and relocated to the Santa Inez Valley, though he continued
to conduct research during this period. He divided his time among monthly week-long visits with his research group at Stanford,
consulting for the Air Pollution Foundation, and scholarly writing and study at his home in Solvang. His work in the 1930s
and early 1940s was devoted largely to studies on the photochemistry of gases, which was later recognized as a major environmental
problem facing industry and the public. Later, at Dugway Proving Ground, he and his collaborators became interested in the
dynamics of air movement and the transport of finely divided solids and aerosols by such movements. This interest led to the
creation of the Aerosol Laboratory at Stanford in 1945, which was one of the earl test federally funded research operations
at Stanford. The Aerosol Laboratory was administered by Stanford until 1961 when it became Metronics Associates, Inc. located
in the Stanford Industrial Park. Leighton served as Chairman of the Board of Metronics until 1968. The later part of Leighton's
career was stimulated by his recognition (as well as others) in the early 1950s that photochemical smog was becoming a major
social and economic problem in the Los Angeles Basin and other worldwide urban areas as well.
Leighton’s two most widely read monographs include
Photochemistry of Gases, 1941; and
Photochemistry of Air Pollution, 1961, and he also authored numerous scholarly publications in these areas of research.
Leighton passed away in 1983 in Solvang, California.
Text excerpted from Stanford University Memorial Resolution (http://histsoc.stanford.edu/pdfmem/leighton_philip_albert.pdf).
Scope and Contents
The papers primarily consist of Philip Albert Leighton's research files, teaching files, and his writings, including book
and article drafts and manuscripts. Professional files include correspondence with colleagues, and files from Leighton's tenure
at Metronics Associates, Inc., and SRI. Also included are select files from his undergraduate and graduate studies, including
Leighton's thesis and dissertation.
Metronics Associates, Inc.
Stanford University. Aerosol Laboratory.
Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher).