Guertler, William Minot

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Guertler, William Minot

(b. Hannover, Germany, 10 March 1880; d Hannover, 21 March 1959)

metallography, metallurgy.

Guertler was the son of Alexander Guertler, a physician. After graduating from the Gymnasium in Hameln in 1899 he studied variously until 1904 at the Technische Hochschule in Hannover, the University of Munich, and the University of Güttingen, from which he earned the doctorate in 1904 under Gustav Tammann. He worked as Tammann’s assistant until 1906. From 1906 to 1908 Guertler was an assistant at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin; in 1908 he joined the faculty as a doctor of engineering.

In the academic year 1908–1909 Guertler was a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he worked there again in 1911. From 1909 to 1914 he worked, without pay, with A. Doeltz at the Metallurgical Institute of the Berlin Technische Hochschule. He was head assistant at the Institute in 1917, became professor there in the same year, and eventually served as deputy director (1921–1928) and director (1929). In 1930 he was appointed to teach at the Institute for Applied Metallurgy; he was promoted to professor and director of the institute in 1933. In 1936 he assumed the additional posts of professor and director of the Institute for Metallurgy and the Science of Materials at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. He reached retirement age in 1945 and from then until 1956 was a guest professor at the Technical University in Istanbul and at M.I.T.

Guertler’s lifework concerned pure and applied metallurgy, which he developed into an independent scientific discipline. He did not restrict himself to a purely academic approach to the subject but rather sought to consider all aspects of the study of metals—both theoretically and teclmologically—and to apply his results in the metal industry. At the beginning of his researches he systematically investigated the constitution of metals; he was especially interested in the conductivity of alloys. He discovered that the value of the conductivity of a compound composed of several metals is always less than the sum of the conductivities of the components. Through his work on nomenclature Guertler established many new metallurgical concepts, including segregation and peritectonics. He also developed new alloys, largely those of nonferrous metals and most notably those of silver and aluminum. In 1926 he was selected to give the Campbell Memorial Lecture; he also made lecture tours in India, Japan, and the United States.

Guertler was, moreover, a pioneer in the scientific organization of his field. Besides writing books—particularly the handbook Metallogmphie (begun in 19l2)—he founded such periodicals as the Internationale Zeitschrift für Metallographie in 1911 (called Zeitschrift für Metallkunde after 1919). Further, he established the German Metallographic Society and the German Society for Technical Röntgenology.


I. Original Works. Guertler wrote more than 300 scientific papers and books and was awarded some 100 patents for his methods and devices. For bibliography, see Poggendorff, 462–463; VI, pt. 2, 973–974; and VIIa, pt. 2, 314–315.

His many papers and monographs include his diss. Über wasserfreie Borate and über Entglasung (Leipzig, 1904); “Die elektrische Leitfähigkeit der Leierunger,” in Zeitschriftfür anorganishce Chemie, 51 (1906), 397–433; 54 (1907), 58–88; see also Guertler’s paper on electric conductivity in Physikalische Zeitschrift, 9 (1908), 29–36, 404–405; 11 (1910), 476–479; “Stand der Forschung über die elektrische Leitfähigkeit der kristallisierten Metallegierungen,” in Jahrbuch der Radioaktivität and Elektronik, 5 (1908), 17–81; 6 (1909), 127; “Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Elektrizitùtsleitung in Metallen und Legierungen,” der Benennung metallischer Produkte,” in Zitschrift für Metallkunde, 11 (1919), 200; Richtlinien zur Gewinnung eines Überblicks über den Aufbau von Dreistoffsysten, no. 1 in the series Forschungsarbeiten zur Metallkunde, of which Guertler was editor (Berlin, 1923); Sechs Vorlesungen zur Einführung in das Verstädnis der modern Spezialstähle Forschungsarbeiten zur Metallkunde, no. 8 (Berlin, 1928); “Colloidal Conditions in Metal Crystals,” in J. Alexander, ed., Colloid Chemistry, III (New York, 1931), 439–448.

See also, under his editorship, Metallographie. Ein ausführliches, Lehr-and Handbuch der Konstitution and der physikalischen, chemischen and technischen Eigenschaften der Metalle and metallischen Legierungen, I-III (Berlin, 1912–1935), of which Guertler is also author of numerous parts; Metalltechniser Kalender (Berlin, 1922); Vom Erz zum metallischen Werkstoff (Leipzig, 1929), vol. I of Der metallische Werkstoff, ed. with W. Leitgebel; Einführung in die Metallkunde, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1943), later published as Metallkunde, I (Berlin, 1954) and the new series of Archiv für Metallkunde.

II. Secondary Literature. On Guertler and his work, see W. Claus “William M. Guertler. Zum 60. Geburtstag am 10.3.1940,” in Metall: Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft, Technik, 19 (1940), 175–176; F. Erdmann-Jesnitzer, “William Guertler †,” in Bergakademie11 (1959), 334; B. Trautmann “Guertler, William Minot,” in Neue deutsche Biographic, VII (1966), 287–288; and “William Guertler †” in Zeitschrift für Metallkunde, 50 (1959), 239.

Hans-GÜnther KÖrber