Those who notice initials after a person’s name will be impressed by ones following Theodore William Richards, class of 1885. After he received his B.S. from Haverford, he received a B.A. from Harvard in 1886; an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1888; an Sc.D. from Yale in 1905; a Chem.D. from Clark in 1909; a Ph.D. from Prague in 1909; an Sc.D. from Harvard in 1910; an M.D. from Berlin in 1910; a D.Sc. from Cambridge in 1911; a D.Sc. from Oxford in 1911; a D.Sc. from Manchester in 1911; a Ph.D. from Christiania in 1911; an LL.D. from Pittsburgh in 1915; an LL.D. from Pennsylvania in 1920; and, oh yes, an LL.D. from Haverford in 1908.
Since his accomplishments are even longer than his string of degrees, suffice it to say that he was a chemist who received a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1914, becoming the first American to receive that honor. His research uncovered the atomic weights of twenty-five important elements.
Richards was extremely methodical as a scientist and extremely successful as a teacher, though his student, J. Robert Oppenheimer did not find his teaching methods brilliant and deemed him “afraid of even rudimentary mathematics.”
Richards’ father, William Trost Richards was a well-regarded artist and his mother, Anna Matlack, a Quaker. Richards himself was interested sports, music, literature, and art. So, now we get to the illustration here depicted.
Barclay Hall on Haverford’s campus was built at the end of the 1870s, and Richards, no doubt, was living in no. 7 in January 1885, though there is no documentation in the college archives to prove this, nor to indicate who was his roommate. What we see in the accompanying watercolor drawing by Richards is a simple desk with books, a tennis racquet and art on the walls, possibly an oriental rug on the floor, no light of any kind. Richards clearly was also a talented artist.