Samuel Wilson Parr

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Samuel Wilson Parr (1857 – May 16, 1931) was an American chemist and academic from Illinois. A graduate of the Illinois Industrial University (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), he taught at Illinois College after receiving a master's degree from Cornell University. He was recruited by the University of Illinois in 1891 and remained there for the rest of his career. Parr is noted for his contributions to industrial chemistry, including the identification of the alloy illium, named for the school. In 1928, Parr was the president of the American Chemical Society.


Samuel Wilson Parr was born in 1857 in Granville, Illinois. He attended the Illinois Industrial University, graduating as valedictorian in 1884. He edited the Daily Illini during his senior year. He then attended graduate school at Cornell University for a year, receiving a master's degree in 1895.[1] He apprenticed as an instructor at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, then was named a Professor of General Science there.[2]

In 1891, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (the former Illinois Industrial) recruited Parr during a faculty expansion phase. He was named department chair of applied chemistry. From 1900 to 1901, he studied teaching at the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Zurich. Parr became known for his work in industrial and engineering chemistry.[2] He formulated methods and standards for industrial contracts. He discovered the alloy illium, an acid-resistant substitute for platinum that found use in boilers. He also invented the Parr perodide calorimeter for measuring the heat value of coal.[3] He founded what is now the Parr Instrument Company in 1899 which continues to operate today.[1]

Parr was the first president of the Athletic Association of the University of Illinois and was known as a skilled baseball player.[2] Columbia University awarded him their Chandler gold medal in 1926. He served a term as president of the American Chemical Society in 1928. Parr founded and was president of the university YMCA. He died on May 16, 1931 and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery and Mausoleum in Urbana, Illinois.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Samuel Wilson Parr Bio from The Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois".
  2. ^ a b c Talbot, Arthur N. (January 1916). "Professor Samuel Wilson Parr". The Illinois Chemist. I (2): 7–8.
  3. ^ a b "Dr. S. W. Parr, Noted Chemist, Dies Saturday". Jacksonville Daily Journal. May 17, 1931. p. 11. Retrieved September 4, 2014 – via