HARRIS, MILTON (1906–1991), U.S. polymer and textile chemist. Born in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 16 Harris received his B.S. from Oregon State University (osu) in chemical engineering and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale University in 1929. Harris spent a large part of his career in commercial research. In 1931 Harris was one of the founders of the institute for the study of textiles at the National Bureau of Standards. Their work resulted in fibers that were water-repellent, flameproof, and rotproof. He helped develop processes for permanent press in woolen goods and wash-and-wear cotton finishing. His work led ultimately to the development of synthetic polymers such as nylon, polyester, and plastics. He was director of research at the Textile Research Institute in 1938–44. In 1945 he founded his own research laboratory, which later became a subsidiary of the Gillette Company. He was director of research and vice president of Gillette from 1956 until his retirement in 1966. He was chairman of the American Institute of Chemists (1961–62) and later chairman of its board of directors. He edited Handbook of Textile Fibers (1954), and the dyes and textile section of Chemical Abstracts (1949–61). In addition to the Milton Harris Chair at osu, his gifts have supported three scholarships, two teaching grants, and awards in chemistry, biochemistry, and basic research. His last major financial gift to osu was a trust fund that will provide an endowment of roughly $2 million for the Department of Chemistry.
[Bracha Rager (2nd ed.)]