Hoylande Young Failey was a senior chemist at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.
In 1945, she was reassigned from her position as a science librarian at the University of Chicago to serve as a senior chemist for the Met Lab. Besides working as a chemist, Young served as an editor for the National Nuclear Energy Series, the Atomic Energy Commission’s report of wartime research on nuclear energy.
At the same time, she also participated in meetings of the Met Lab’s council. Young was one of ten women to sign the Szilard Petition, a document drafted by physicist Leo Szilard that attempted to avert the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.
In 1946, she left the Manhattan Project and became the Director of Technical Information at Argonne National Laboratory. In accepting this position, she became the first female division director at Argonne National Laboratory.
Hoylande Denune Young was born on June 26, 1903 in Columbus, Ohio. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Ohio State University in 1922. Afterward, she enrolled at the University of Chicago for graduate school. She earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1926.
Prior to earning her Ph.D., she joined the American Chemical Society and its Chicago Section. Following graduate school, she began to work as a research chemist at Van Schaack Brothers Chemical Works in the lacquer industry. After working there for four years, she moved to Denton, Texas in 1930 to become an assistant professor of chemistry at the College of Industrial Arts of Texas State College for Women. She taught nutrition and biochemistry there until 1934.
She left the college to take a research position at Michael Reese Hospital. She lost the position, however, after the hospital learned she was a woman. This turn of events led Young to serve as a consultant from 1934 to 1938. Following her stint as a consultant, she worked as an industrial chemist with Pure Oil Company until 1942.
In 1942, Young became a scientific librarian with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in the toxicity labs at the University of Chicago. Her duties included collecting information from British and American reports and compiling a “master index” of toxic compounds for American, British, and Canadian chemical warfare laboratories.
While she worked at Argonne, Young also became the first woman chair of the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society in 1956. She worked at Argonne until she retired in 1964.
Additionally, she was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. In 1963, Argonne initiated the Hoylande D. Young lecture series in her honor at the Research Society of America. In 1975, the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society presented her with the Distinguished Service Award.
Young married Crawford Failey, a friend and co-worker from her time at the toxicity laboratories at the University of Chicago. She passed away on January 12, 1986, at the age of 82.
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