and his wife, Magdalena Ernst Stetten. A German nursemaid caring for his older sister Margaret disliked the name DeWitt and so she gave Stetten the affectionate name of “Haensel" and Margaret the German contraction "Gretel." Thus, Stetten was known as "Hans" to all visitors, and the name persisted among family and friends throughout his life.

As children, Stetten and his sister attended the Horace Mann School, an experimental school associated with Columbia University in New York City. While still a young boy in the Horace Mann Boy's School, Stetten's parents sought to help him overcome his excessive shyness by arranging for him to receive special instruction in performing magic from one of his teachers who had this as a hobby. He then entertained family and friends, as well as audiences on steamships during family vacation travels to and from Europe, as an amateur magician. The same teacher also taught a woodworking class at school—thus started two of Hans's lifelong hobbies.

Another hobby was his construction at age 12 of a radio receiver using a galena crystal as a detector and a coil of wire wrapped around a wooden rolling pin as a tuner—all from instructions he found in the journal QST, the official publication of the American Radio Relay League. Stetten then progressively increased the performance of succeeding radios over the years as vacuum tubes became available. His resulting hobby of electronics was helpful to him later when he participated in the construction of two mass spectrometers used at different times in his research career.

Stetten received an A.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1930, along with membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Although he knew by this time that his first love was biochemistry, he was encouraged by his surgeon father as well as by his tutor and mentor at Harvard, Frank

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement