Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date



Herbert Elmore Hellwege, a noted chemist, joined the faculty of Rollins College in 1954. He continued his extensive research projects while teaching in the field of chemistry.

Hellwege was born on March 3, 1921, in Harsefeld, Germany. After graduating from technical gymnasium in Bustehude, Germany, in 1939, Hellwege joined the air force, where he remained until 1945, reaching the rank of second lieutenant. He then studied mathematics, physics, geology, mineralogy, and majored in inorganic chemistry at the University of Hamburg. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1953, he came to the United States of America, and within a year had found a home at Rollins College.

At Rollins, Hellwege introduced new courses, including Radiochemistry and its Applications and Principles of Chemistry. He also helped start soccer (acting as an assistant coach), became a charter member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and participated in several issues of the Animated Magazines. In 1965, Hellwege was awarded the National Science Foundation Faculty post-doctoral fellowship and performed research at the University of Goteborg in Sweden in the field of co-ordination chemistry. In the same year, he became chair of the Department of Chemistry. In 1974, he served as the Archibald Granville Bush Chair of Science. He was awarded the Arthur Vining Davis Award in 1971.

Hellwege’s many scholarly publications include a doctoral thesis on The Abundance of Tin as a Minor Element in Minerals and Development of a New Spectro-Chemical Method in the Field of Geo-Chemical Research. He spoke German and English, had a working knowledge of French, played the violin, and learned how to sew during his retirement. Hellwege passed away on Wednesday, November 16, 2005.

Hellwege1.mp3 (4569 kB)
Hellwege discusses what attracted him to Rollins

Hellwege2.mp3 (3126 kB)
Hellwege discusses his decision to come to the United States

Hellwege3.mp3 (2336 kB)
Hellwege discusses innovative approaches to some of his courses

Hellwege4.mp3 (3681 kB)
Hellwege discusses his research on cosmetics

Hellwege5.mp3 (3355 kB)
Hellwege discusses his role in the Rollins soccer team