UMD History Connections: Malcolm and The Manhattan Project

On July 28th, 1945, UMD President Harry Clifton Byrd received a letter from the Monsanto Chemical Company asking him to allow Dr. Malcolm Haring, chemistry professor, to be absent until September to work on a “government war research project.” It was not until August 13th, 1945, that Byrd was formally told Dr. Haring was working on a portion of the Manhattan project in Dayton, Ohio. After hearing the news Byrd simply replied, “Frankly, I was quite sure the work Professor Haring was doing had relationship to the atom splitting processes.”

Malcolm Haring 1921
Dr. Haring while at Lebanon Valley College, 1921

Malcolm Haring was born on May 4th 1895 in Burlington, NJ. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1915 with a bachelor’s degree and from Princeton University in 1916 with a master’s degree. He stayed at Princeton another year as an assistant instructor. After the outbreak of World War One, he worked as an assistant chemist for the United States Army ordinance department.

Following the war, Haring became a professor at Lebanon Valley College, where he remained into the 1920s. By 1927, he was an associate professor at the University of Maryland, achieving the rank of full professor in 1930. By 1936, he was directing all research done on physical chemistry. He stayed at the University of Maryland until 1945, when he was recruited to help his country’s war effort.

Dr. Haring was asked by the Monsanto Chemical Company to go to Dayton, Ohio, to work on a key piece of the Manhattan Project. It was the job of the Dayton scientists to create two trigger mechanisms, one for each atomic bomb, using radioactive polonium. Haring was guaranteed that his space would be waiting at the University of Maryland, but he kept his job at the Monsanto Chemical Company, eventually becoming the director of the Mound Laboratory of Monsanto. He worked for Monsanto until his death on New Year’s Day, 1952.

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