graduate students and colleagues, based to a large extent on personal recollections. Additional information can be obtained from published sources1,2,3,4,5 as well as from articles that contain a certain amount of autobiographical material.6,7,8,9,10
Joe was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 27, 1911, the son of Arthur Douglas and May Rosalie (Straus) Hirschfelder. Of his family and early childhood, Joe has written:7
My paternal great grandparents emigrated from Germany to California in 1843. . . . Both my grandfather and father devoted their lives to medical research. Grandpa was the first child born in Oakland; he graduated in the first class at the University of California and became the first Professor of Clinical Medicine at Stanford. Dad entered the University of California at the age of 13. After receiving his MD, he joined the medical faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where he was the first doctor in the United States to use an electrocardiogram. . . . Later he became very much interested in the colloid chemistry associated with the physiological effects of drugs and accepted a Professorship in Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota.
Thus, I was born in Baltimore and grew up in Minneapolis. When I was five years old, Dad built a chemistry lab for me in the basement of our home. When I was ten, he took me to an American Chemical Society Meeting in Los Angeles. And when I was 15, I helped Dad determine the distribution of colloidal particles in a Zsigmundy ultramicroscope —my contribution was to suggest a correction factor for the convection currents produced by passing street cars.
Joe was an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota from 1927 to 1929 and at Yale from 1929 to 1931. During this period he found he was not particularly suited to experimental sciences and decided to do theoretical work. He was attracted to Princeton since it was possible to take a double Ph.D. in theoretical physics and chemistry. His chief physics mentor was Eugene P. Wigner, and his chemistry supervisors were Henry Eyring6 and Hugh S. Taylor.7 After