H19-2038. Schubert, Jack (1917-2007). Papers, 1943-1981. 0.50 linear ft.


Hope College

Document Type



Jack Schubert was an American chemist and Manhattan Project scientist. He was born on September 14, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois. He studied chemistry and mathematics at the University of Chicago, graduating in 1940. He then earned his Ph.D. there in 1944. In 1941, Schubert was working as an analytical chemist at the Charlestown Ordnance Works when he received a call from his graduate professor, Dr. G. E. Boyd, inviting him to participate in a secret defense project at the University of Chicago. Early the next year, Schubert joined the Metallurgical Laboratory as a “Research Chemist.” His analytical group was focused on chemical analyses of uranium oxide ore and devising methods for removing impurities. Schubert also spent extra time working on methods to extract and separate plutonium from irradiated uranium and fission products. He eventually decided to employ a procedure known as chromatography, which he had derived from his experience before the Manhattan Project. In late 1942, Schubert was tasked with establishing a micro analytical control lab at Metal Hydrides in Massachusetts. He and his team spent a few weeks at MIT and at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington. D.C. before setting up the lab, and by the time they returned to Chicago, Enrico Fermi had created the first sustained nuclear chain reaction. Schubert and the Met Lab plutonium absorption team were transferred to Oak Ridge in 1943, where they remained for the majority of the war. Schubert's team was kept separate from the uranium operation at Oak Ridge and instead worked on testing their Chicago methods on a pilot plant scale. In March of 1945, Schubert felt his team had accomplished its goals, so he returned to the University of Chicago to do biomedical research on the effects of atomic radiation. After the war, Schubert went on to have a long and successful career, working in numerous positions. In 1947, Schubert conducted radiochemical reports at Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, for the U.S. Navy. He also became a senior chemist at the Argonne National Lab in 1948. Throughout his career, he worked with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), with the Argonne Lab, and with the Ford Foundation in Argentina. His scientific research has been published in numerous journals. He went on to become a professor, teaching at the University of Minnesota, the University of Chicago, the University of Frankfurt, and the University of Pittsburgh. Schubert also advocated for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and for nuclear safety. In 1955, he served as a U.S. Delegate to the First International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, hosted in Geneva. Some of his research and academic papers focused on nuclear safety, radiation and its effects on humans and the environment, surface chemistry, metal poisoning, methods of removing radioactive contamination, and nuclear fallout hazards. He wrote over 100 scientific publications and patents. In 1977, Schubert joined the faculty at Hope College as one of the founders of the environmental health sciences courses taught in the biology and chemistry departments. While at Hope College, Schubert and Dr. S. Krogh Derr succeeded in completely removing radioactive plutonium and other non-radioactive metal from the bodies of test animals in 1978. Schubert left Hope College in 1980 to continue his research at the University of Maryland. He passed away in 2007. The collection contains biographical information and his collected written works from 1954-1971.


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