This Day in History Class-Leo Baekeland announced Bakelite

This Day in History Class provides summaries of important events that happened in history. The episodes are short but filled with interesting facts. You learn a lot from just a 4 minute episode.

One of their episodes is about Leo Baekeland who invented a synthetic plastic called Bakelite. Baekeland was a scientist who was born in Belgium. He invented a photographic printing paper that he sold to George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, for $750,000 ($15 million in today’s value). From his home called “Snug Rock” in Yonkers, he invented a synthetic plastic he called Bakelite. On February 8, 1909 at an American Chemical Society lecture, Baekeland announced its creation.

Bakelite was initially used for automotive and electric products but because of its ability to mold into hundreds of shapes, it was used to create other products such as jewelry, radios, radios, etc. Baekeland patented around 400 patents related to Bakelite. At the Will Library, you can see Bakelite products that were created in displays in the upper and lower lobbies. It is fascinating to listen to the This Day in History Class episode about Bakelite and then see the products firsthand.  

On Saturday, November 12 at 2:00 PM in the Will Library, there will be a screening of the documentary All Things Bakelite followed by a Q & A with film director John Maher, Yonkers Historian Mary Hoar and phenolic resin consultant Dr. Louis Pilato. The documentary is about the history of Leo Baekeland and the impact bakelite had on the 20th century.

The All Things Bakelite program event is held in memory of Hugh Karraker who was Leo Baekeland’s great-grandson. Karraker passed away on August 25 of this year.

Michael Walsh

Adult Services-Will Library