Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History Narrative  
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Pauling’s growing reputation led in the spring of 1929 to the offer of a full professorship at Harvard, which Pauling then used to advance himself at Caltech. The Caltech executive council quickly countered the Harvard offer by promoting Pauling to associate professor (after only two years as an assistant professor), awarding him substantial pay raises over the coming two years, support for a laboratory assistant, two more graduate students, and travel money for a European trip.

But Harvard remained serious. There was talk of building new courses in crystal structure and chemical physics around Pauling, even creating a new department devoted to the young researcher's brand of what was now being called "quantum chemistry."

So Pauling visited, arriving in Cambridge for a week in early May 1929. He was treated royally, staying in the home of organic chemist James Bryant Conant (who was soon to become president of Harvard), touring the new chemical laboratories, presenting seminars, and attending receptions. He was twenty-eight years old and flattered by the attention, but he also found things-some big, some little-he did not like. Whereas Caltech was becoming famous for allowing researchers a free hand to develop their own unique approaches to science, at Harvard, Pauling found, subdisciplines such as organic chemistry and physical chemistry had ossified into separate fiefdoms. There was a sense of backbiting and politicking and a hoarding of talent he did not like. A product of the egalitarian American West, Pauling also received his first taste of eastern class snobbery. "Here was a society where there were a lot of important people who were important just because of birth. They had money and stature not based on their own abilities," he remembered. "I thought I would be a sort of second-class citizen at Harvard."

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See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to A.A. Noyes. March 21, 1929. 
See Also: Letter from James Conant to Linus Pauling. May 20, 1929. 
See Also: Letter from Robert Millikan to Linus Pauling. May 21, 1929. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to James Conant. May 23, 1929. 

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Picture
James Bryant Conant at Mt. Wilson observatory, September 1937.


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Letter from James Conant to Linus Pauling. February 20, 1929.

"The department of chemistry [at Harvard] seemed to me to be rather uncooperative in that the different professors ran their own little groups...I just thought that I wouldn't feel at home there...."

Linus Pauling
March 27, 1964
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