Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Charles Anthony Goessmann Papers
Charles Anthony Goessmann was born in Naumberg, Hessen Cassel, Germany on June 13, 1827. He received his early education at the Latin School in Fritzlar, and then entered the University of Goettingen in 1850. There he studied chemistry, botany, physics, geology, and mineralogy, and received his PhD in 1853. From 1852 to 1857 he occupied the position of assistant in the Royal Chemical University Laboratory, and in 1855 was appointed Privat Docent, and lectured in chemistry and pharmacy.
In 1857 Goessmann left Goettingen, visited a number of universities and manufacturing establishments in Germany, Austria, France, and England, and then journeyed to the United States. In America, he accepted the position of chemist and subsequently manager of the Eastwich Brothers Sugar Refinery of Philadelphia. After leaving Philadelphia, he studied sugar refining methods in Cuba, and then accepted the position of chemist with the Onondaga Salt Company of Syracuse, New York. There he investigated improvements in the manufacture of salt, and served as professor of chemistry and physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy.
In 1868 W. S. Clark, the President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, invited him to fill the position of Professor of Chemistry. He accepted and remained in that position until his retirement in 1907. While serving at the Agricultural College he was elected Chemist to the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, as well as State Inspector of Fertilizers in 1873 and subsequently an analyst to the State Board of Health. In 1882 he was appointed Director of the Massachusetts State Agricultural Experiment Station, an office he filled throughout its twelve year existence. In addition to these positions he was a member of several leading scientific societies including: the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, an organization of which he was the first president; the American Chemical Society, which he served as president and vice-president; the German Society of Naturalists and Physicians; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Massachusetts Horticultural Society; and the Massachusetts Meteorological Society. Upon his retirement in 1907 he served as Professor Emeritus until his death in 1910.
His scientific research includes several important contributions in nineteenth century chemistry. His early investigations include the discovery of new organic acids, and a new mode of producing organic alkaloids and amino compounds. His later investigations include research in the cultivation of sugar cane on the island of Cuba and the state of Louisiana, the development of the sorghum and sugar beet as sugar-producing plants for home consumption, the chemistry of brines and the character of the salt resources of the United States and Canada, and the influence of special systems of feeding plants for industrial purposes. The papers indicate that he also held at least four patents.