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M Guy Mellon

Analytical Chemistry

1919 - 1962         

M. Guy Mellon - 1893-1993

Melvin Guy Mellon (1893-1993) has been called ‘the wise man’ of Purdue Chemistry - an appropriate nickname when considering his seven decades as a professor in the department. Many alumni may only know him as the man for whom the Chemistry Library is named. But to others, Professor Mellon was a teacher, advisor, librarian, architect, and sage.

Mellon arrived at Purdue in 1919 as the second faculty member of the analytical division during its formative years. However his role as an administrator, expanding the library and building both Wetherill and Brown Labs, is perhaps his greatest legacy - experience that made him an international authority on chemical literature and a well-known lab designer.

"I recall Professor Mellon much more clearly than nearly any other professor I had in my 4 years at Purdue. He was a tough taskmaster but fair and well respected by the students.

The only downside of his character which I recall was that he always held a class at 8AM, including Saturdays, without fail. Those were tough classes to attend but attend them we did.

I recall taking Quantitative Analysis (Course #401 or #402 perhaps) from Prof. Mellon sometime during my tenure (1957 to 1961) during what would be the last year in which the department labs were equipped with the old double beam balances, not electronic balances which came the next year. Those brass double beams were beautiful instruments, as were the weights themselves. Prof. Mellon gave meticulous instruction in the use of the double beam balances and I have long wondered if he regretted their passing. I expect he did regret their passing, not because he opposed modernity but because of the teaching value of the double beams which required care and patience to properly use. In quantitative analysis, care and patience were required and the double beams, I'm sure, helped him teach proper lab skills.

In our 'wet labs' (which really were wet labs in those days of really wet chemistry), noxious fumes, spattering hot acids and so forth were common. No student ever had hole-free clothes but Dr. Mellon was always there, in his dark three piece suit, always looking elegant. I recall him saying words to the effect that if a suit was appropriate lab attire for Lavosier, then it was appropriate for him as well."

Bill Maxey, Class of 1961 - BSc, Chemistry (analytical)

Related links:
Amy-Mellon Lecture Series

Oral History of Guy Mellon, Derek Davenport & William Jensen
My Three Score and Ten Purdue Years (1919-1989), M.G. Mellon