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University of Alberta Archives
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Biographical

The records in this series present an overview of the life of Walter Edgar Harris. They contain highlights of his career and important contributions to the scientific community. The materials are arranged by subject with some of the media separated from their respective subjects. This series focuses on his time spent as a student, professor, scholar and administrator/committee member. A significant portion of the material includes recognition of his academic achievements in the form of awards, celebratory letters, and opening statements. There are also feature articles with brief summaries of Harris’s academic life, personal biographical writings and two of his yearbooks from university. The documents are primarily textual with a few photographs and a large number of 35mm slides. Other document types include examination questions and notes for various courses Harris had taken as a student, essays, lists of expenses, diplomas, birthday cards, newspaper clippings, biographical notes and correspondence regarding awards. These records were created between 1929 and 2011 with one slide from Harris’ public school from 1919. Harris collected and compiled the materials, complete with a personal history and extensive notes. Harris’s personal accounts include reflections on his early life, graduate school, career, committees and late life interest in the game of bridge. It also includes his personal thoughts on marriage, science, religion, his brother Raymond, uranium, and energy, among other subjects.

Professional Correspondence

The Professional Correspondence subseries is composed of twenty-eight files relating to correspondence of a professional nature inside and outside the University of Alberta. The files are arranged by subject and ordered chronologically. Document types include correspondence, letters, notes, reports, memos, and programs. It also incorporates University of Alberta records from the time of his appointment on faculty in 1946, until his retirement from the Chemistry Department in 1980. It also includes correspondence related to his activities as Emeritus Professor up to the time of his death in 2011. Files with external professional colleagues run from 1960 to 2011 with a few items generated from 1943. Specific topics covered include travel and attendance at a number of symposiums or conferences related to Chemistry and a consulting job for analytical methods in oil drilling. Topics also relate to IM Kolthoff his colleague, the Chemistry Program at the University of Alberta, and various other professional correspondence.

Publications and Reports

The records in this series document the publications and reports written or co-written by Harris. Materials date from 1939 to 2011 and are arranged by subject. The document types include correspondence, photographs, articles, revisions, and notes regarding published materials or reports. There is a considerable amount of materials on “Chemical Analysis 2nd edition” by HA Laitenen and WE Harris; HA (Herb) Laitenen had written the first edition and asked WE Harris to help with the second edition. This book helped to give wide-spread recognition of the Chemistry Department at the University of Alberta. Another significant portion of the materials is devoted to the evolution of a laboratory manual culminating with the publication "Chemical Analysis: An Intensive Introduction to Modern Analysis" by WE Harris and B. Kratchovil. To accompany this book, the authors produced "Teaching Introductory Analytical Chemistry" as the teaching assistant's manual for Chemistry 312. This included information like teaching philosophy, laboratory organization, details of common student problems with individual experiments and grading. Notable early work includes Harris’ M.Sc. Thesis "The Distribution of Selenium in Alberta” and his PhD thesis “The Polarography of Uranium”. This series also includes the report “The Determination of Mercaptan in Latex by Amperometric Titration with Silver Nitrate in Ammoniacal Alcoholic Medium” written in conjunction with IM Kolthoff for the wartime rubber project. As well, the series includes the first book published in the department of chemistry at University of Alberta entitled “Programmed Temperature Gas Chromatography” co-written with HW Habgood. Other notable publications relate to Harris’s committee work such as “Low Dose Risk Assessment”, articles on PCB and dioxins, as well as, bioethanol. The materials were all collected by Harris except for a volume that was compiled and bound by the secretaries of the Chemistry Department as a gift to WE Harris.

Also see accession 1981-159 “Harris-Kratochvil Computer Manuscript” for additional information on the publication “Chemical Analysis: An Intensive Introduction to Modern Analysis”.

Teaching Material

The records in this series highlight Harris’ lifelong role as an educator. Harris was described as being an organised and interesting lecturer with useful laboratories, who always encouraged students in their progress. The primary focus of the series is on scholarly and public lectures, talks, lessons, and conference presentations. This includes many verbatim transcripts of lectures given by Harris with accompanying slides. Mixed in with his teaching slides are also a variety of images capturing the construction of the chemistry building and committee outings. This series includes a variety of document types such as index cards, notes, lecture outlines, correspondence, course materials, course reviews, student essays, test questions, assignments, articles, reports, letters, cards, u-matic video tape, and lecture audiotapes. This series contains three subseries: Chemistry, Agriculture and Forestry, and Bridge. The subseries are divided according to subject matter and were created between ca. 1950 and 2011.

Personal Correspondence

Harris’ Personal Correspondence is comprised of seven files. The files are arranged by subject and chronologically ordered. Document types include correspondence, notes and photographs ranging from 1983 to 2011. The content includes correspondence with professional colleagues, Charlie and Betty Carr, Bill, Margaret and Gretchen Harris as well as family members and various other friends. Most of the personal correspondence occurs after 1992, when Harris’ wife Phyllis died.

Walter Harris fonds

  • CA UOFA UOFA 2012-027
  • Fonds
  • 1915 - 2011

This fonds contains the records of the University of Alberta chemistry professor Dr. Walter Harris. He was instrumental in the modernization of the University’s successful Analytical Chemistry program. Dr Harris was acclaimed for his work in chemistry education, scientific research, and committee service.

The materials date from 1915 to 2011. The records predominately date after Harris began his career at the University of Alberta in 1946. The collection is rich in teaching materials, including a number of lectures written verbatim, an abundance of lecture slides and audio visual recordings of Walter Harris lecturing, as well as a significant amount of Dr. Harris’ research papers and supporting information. The fonds also incorporates materials related to the history of the Chemistry Department at the University of Alberta. In addition, it provides insight into Harris’ book publications with related correspondence, revisions and notes. The fonds is abundant in records relating to Harris’ work as a committee member including meeting minutes, agendas, committee reports, and correspondence.

This fonds contains an array of document types including such textual materials as notes, correspondence, talks, programs, pamphlets, articles, cards, course materials, announcements, books, and personal history information. It also contains yearbooks, plaques, certificates and newspaper clippings, as well as a variety of media types including photographs, slides, negatives, lantern slides, a 16mm film, reel-to-reel audiotapes, a VHS videocassette, a u-matic video tape, and a CD-ROM disk. The fonds geographically pertains predominantly to Canada with some materials created in the United States, and a few materials generated in countries abroad. The materials related to Europe are from international conferences or committee travels taken by Harris.

Harris, Walter Edgar

Bridge

The Bridge subseries is composed of five files regarding Harris’ serious hobby in the card game of bridge. The subseries was compiled ca 1990 to 2011 and the arrangement is based upon the original order in which the donor presented the items. WE Harris competed in many bridge competitions. He also taught and wrote about bridge lessons for beginners, typically with HB (Brian) Dunford. The document types include advertisements, correspondence, notes, and books. Specific topics include the books: “Bridge: Direct, Simple & Winning” and “Bridge”, as well as, supporting notes.

Correspondence

The Correspondence series consists of correspondence of Walter E Harris. This series is divided into two subseries; professional and personal correspondence. The materials were created between 1943 and 2011. They are arranged by subject matter or grouped by significant correspondent. Document types include letters, notes, newspaper clippings, reference letters, photographs, and reports.

Committees

The Committees series covered Walter Harris’ years spent as a member of three significant committees. The series was divided into three subseries according to these committees: the Technical Advisory Committee, Alberta Environment Hazardous Waste Management Committee and President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Review. Materials date from 1973 to 2009 and were arranged by subject matter. Large topics are chronologically arranged with most media separated from textual materials. This series has a number of document types including correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes, index cards, reviews, articles, reports, research, letters, claims, expenses, photographs, brochures, thoughts and interviews by Harris. It further includes an array of slides, a 16mm film and a VHS videocassette . Harris mentioned that each committee involved “working with new people, travelling and tackling interesting problems”.

History of the Department of Chemistry

This series contains fourteen files on the history of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta and of Analytical Chemistry in Canada. The materials range in date from 1931 to 2009, and predominantly after 1996. It covers information about key individuals at the University of Alberta such as Osmand James Walker, SG Davis, Harry Gunning and HB (Brian) Dunford. A significant portion of the material is related to Harris’ book entitled “Department of Chemistry History and a Memoir”. Other materials include graduands and staff listings, as well as information on the new Chemistry building and teaching loads. It also includes University of Alberta “Evergreen & Gold” yearbooks that predate WE Harris’ time at the University. Document types include photographs, slides, notes, lists, books, correspondence, memos, memoirs, booklets and articles. Also see Archives Accession 2012-27-236 for a few slides featuring the Chemistry building under construction and newly built.

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