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September 4, 1926 – The Death of Julia Brainerd Hall

Posted September 04, 2017 10:00 AM by MaggieMc

On September 4, 1926, Julia Brainerd Hall, who assisted her brother Charles Martin Hall in producing the first samples of man-made aluminum in 1886, died in her home.

Julia Brainerd Hall is noted primarily for her six-page “History of C. M. Hall’s Aluminum Invention.” The 1887 account of her brother’s success was that of an eyewitness, as she had – by many accounts – assisted his research.

Both siblings were graduates of Oberlin College, Julia Brainerd Hall in 1881 and C. M. Hall in 1885, and both studied chemistry. When Julia Brainerd Hall received her diploma she took over the running of the Hall family, because of their mother’s illness.

Caring for their six other siblings when their mother took ill put J. B. Hall in the perfect position to assist her brother when he graduated and continued his college experiments in the family’s woodshed, right next to the kitchen – Julia’s domain.

Julia Brainerd Hall’s role in Charles Martin Hall’s research [pdf] is debated, but some scholars indicate she consulted with him on both “scientific and technical matters,” while acting as “a scientifically astute, well-educated, and competent eyewitness.” What has been determined is that J. Hall “faithfully and minutely recorded the steps in the invention process” along with evidence that “could substantiate the date.” Meanwhile, she helped her brother seek financial backing.

Just eight months after his graduation, on February 23, 1886, Charles Martin Hall discovered a new method for producing aluminum. Hall used molten cryolite, the mineral sodium aluminum fluoride, as a nonaqueous solvent for aluminum oxide, which allowed him to produce metallic aluminum by electrolysis, using carbon electrodes.

Independently, Paul-Louis-Toussaint Héroult of France discovered the same process. In the resulting patent dispute between the two men, it was Julia Brainerd Hall’s scientific background and record keeping came to the rescue, her aforementioned history “clinch[ing] Hall’s victory” in the dispute.

In his 1911 acceptance speech for the Perkin Medal of the American Chemical Society, Hall did not credit his sister for her potential role in his discovery, termed the Hall-Héroult Process. Her assistance was instead noted in her obituary.

At 51 years of age, C. M. Hall died on December 27, 1914, and was followed by his Julia Brainerd Hall, aged 67, on September 4, 1926.

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Re: September 4, 1926 – The Death of Julia Brainerd Hall

09/04/2017 12:18 PM

Before the Hall process, aluminum was a precious metal.

"In the 1800s, Aluminium was a mystery to most people. It was a metal many had never seen, nor touched. The emperor Napoleon III of France was known to have given his most cherished guests aluminum dinnerware and all the other guests were simply given gold or silver dinnerware. This was because in 1883 aluminium was round $545 per pound. Accounting for inflation, that means aluminium cost $12,000 per pound. Less than 20 years later, aluminium cost 32 cents per pound. This incredible change came about in northern Ohio in 1883. Charles Martin Hall, a student at Obertin College was told by his professor that if anybody “could commercially extract aluminium they would be sure of a fortune!” With that Charles Martin Hall set out to discover to refining alumina (aluminum oxide), a method still used to this day. He discovered that when dissolving molten alumina in molten cryolite, one could use electrolysis to extract the pure aluminium."

http://www.scrapmetaljunkie.com/278/some-history-on-aluminum

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Re: September 4, 1926 – The Death of Julia Brainerd Hall

09/07/2017 3:36 PM

...and that's a wrap - Reynold's Wrap that is!

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