Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Chandler, Charles Frederick

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CHANDLER, Charles Frederick, chemist, b. in Lancaster, Mass., 6 Dec., 1836. He studied at Lawrence scientific school of Harvard, and abroad at the universities of Göttingen and Berlin, receiving in 1856 the degree of Ph. D. at Göttingen. On his return to the United States in 1857 he became assistant in chemistry at Union college under Prof. Charles A. Joy, and a few months later succeeded to the duties of the full professorship. Here he remained until 1864, when he went to New York and was associated with Profs. Thomas Egleston and Francis L. Vinton in the establishment of the Columbia school of mines. Dr. Chandler was elected to fill the chair of analytical and applied chemistry, and was also dean of the faculty. In 1877, on the reorganization of the school, he was made professor of chemistry, lecturing thenceforth in both the scientific and literary departments of Columbia. He became adjunct professor of chemistry and medical jurisprudence in the College of physicians and surgeons (the medical department of Columbia college) in 1872, and in 1876 succeeded to the full professorship. His connection with the College of pharmacy as professor of chemistry dates from 1866, and largely through his active interest this institution has become one of the most flourishing colleges of pharmacy in the United States. In 1866 he was invited by the Metropolitan board of health to make scientific studies of sanitary questions affecting the health of New York city. This work was performed gratuitously, but with such satisfaction that the place of chemist to the board was created for him. In this capacity he continued until 1873, when he was appointed president of the Board of health and again in 1877. One by one important sanitary questions were taken up, thoroughly investigated, and placed on a scientific basis. The milk-supply was found to be shamefully adulterated, and frauds by the milkmen amounting to $10,000 a day were prevalent. After some years of contention, the rigid inspection of the milk became a recognized proceeding. The sale of inferior qualities of kerosene, with resulting accidents, was among the subjects thoroughly investigated, and, in consequence, restrictive legislation was enacted. Great improvements in connection with the sanitary arrangements of the markets and food-supply were introduced during his administration. Originally, slaughter-houses were scattered throughout the city; but they were now compelled to locate within narrow precincts on the river fronts and placed under thorough sanitary supervision. He obtained the passage of a tenement-house act, which provided that plans of every such building to be erected must first be submitted to the health authorities. In this manner improved accommodations, with adequate light and ventilation, have been secured for the poorer classes. It has been shown that the death-rate of children under five years of age has been reduced 5,000 yearly in direct consequence of the reforms and improvements effected by Dr. Chandler and his associates. He was also connected with the New York state board of health, and much of the excellent work performed by that body on the adulteration of food during the first years of its existence was executed under his direction. His name has been associated with others on important reports sent out by the National board of health. His time has necessarily been largely occupied with his duties as a teacher and in his public capacity, hence it could hardly be expected that any original investigations in pure chemistry would be carried on by him; yet he has done much in that direction worthy of the highest praise. His elaborate investigations on the water-supply of the cities of Albany in 1873 and 1885, Brooklyn in 1868 and 1870, New York in 1866 (et seq.), and Yonkers in 1874, his analyses of the springs and artesian wells at Ballston in 1869, Chittenango in 1870, Florida in 1871, Saratoga Springs in 1863 and repeatedly since, Staten Island in 1871, and elsewhere, and his reports on waters for locomotives in 1865, are valuable, and date from a period when but little of that class of work was performed in the United States. Many of the analyses executed for the geological surveys of Michigan, Wisconsin, and elsewhere were made in his laboratory. His earlier investigations were published in the “American Journal of Science” and in “The American Chemist,” a journal that he established with his brother, W. H. Chandler, in 1870, but which was discontinued in 1877. He has frequently testified as an expert in courts, and in that capacity has been retained in some of the most important patent cases. Dr. Chandler has lectured before New York audiences on “Water” in 1874, “Photography” in 1879, and kindred topics. He received the honorary degree of M. D. from the University of New York in 1873, and that of LL. D. from Union college during the same year. He is a life member of the Chemical societies of London, Berlin, Paris, and New York, and a member of numerous other scientific societies. In 1874 he was elected a member of the National academy of sciences, to whose reports on sorghum (1882), glucose (1884), and other subjects in applied chemistry, he has been a regular contributor, and during the same year he presided over the convention of chemists that met at Northumberland to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of oxygen by Dr. Priestley.—His brother, William Henry, chemist, b. in New Bedford, Mass., 13 Dec., 1841, was educated at Union, and from 1861 to 1867 was chemist to various companies, and from 1868 to 1871 instructor in chemistry at the Columbia school of mines. In 1871 he became professor of chemistry at Lehigh university, and in 1878 was made director of the library. He has received the degree of A. M. from Union, and that of Ph. D. from Hamilton college. Prof. Chandler is a fellow of the Chemical society of London, and a member of the Chemical societies of Paris and New York. In 1876 he was a juror at the Philadelphia centennial exhibition, and in 1878 at the Paris exhibition. His contributions to chemical literature have appeared principally in the “American Chemist,” of which from 1870 till 1877 he and his brother, Charles F. Chandler, were editors.