Hoylande (Young) Failey

Hoylande (Young) Failey was a senior chemist at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory ("Met Lab") during the Manhattan Project.

In 1945, she was reassigned from her position as a science librarian at the University of Chicago to serve as a senior chemist for the Met Lab. Besides working as a chemist, Failey served as an editor for the National Nuclear Energy Series, the Atomic Energy Commission's report of wartime research on nuclear energy.

At the same time, she also participated in meetings of the Met Lab's council. Failey was one of ten women to sign the Szilard Petition, a document drafted by physicist Leo Szilard to stop the President from dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.

In 1946, she left the Manhattan Project and became the Director of Technical Information at Argonne National Laboratory. In accepting this position, she became the first female division director at Argonne National Laboratory.


Early Years

Hoylande Denune Young was born on June 26, 1903 in Columbus, Ohio. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Ohio State University in 1922. Afterward, she enrolled at the University of Chicago for graduate school. She earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1926.

Prior to earning her Ph.D., she joined the American Chemical Society and the Chicago Section. Following graduate school, she began to work as a research chemist at Van Schaack Brothers Chemical Works in the lacquer industry. After working there for four years, she moved to Denton, Texas in 1930 to become an assistant professor of chemistry at the College of Industrial Arts of Texas State College for Women. She taught nutrition and biochemistry there until 1934.

She left the college to take a research position at Michael Reese Hospital. She lost the position, however, after the hospital learned she was a woman. This turn of events led Failey to serve as a consultant from 1934 to 1938. Following her stint as a consultant, she worked as an industrial chemist with Pure Oil Company until 1942. 

In 1942, Failey became a scientific librarian with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in the toxicity labs at the University of Chicago. Her duties included collecting information from British and American reports and compiling a "master index" of toxic compounds for American, British and Canadian chemical warfare laboratories. 


Later Years

Failey served as a director at Argonne until she retired in 1964. While she worked at Argonne, Failey also became the first woman chair of the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society in 1956. Additionally, she was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. 

In 1963, Argonne developed the Hoylande D. Young lecture series in her honor at the Research Society of America. Later, she married Crawford Failey, a friend and co-worker from her time at the toxicity laboratories at the University of Chicago. On April 25, 1975, the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society presented her with the Distinguished Service Award.

At the age of eighty-two, Hoylande Denune (Young) Failey passed away on January 12, 1986. 


For more information about Hoylande Denune (Young) Failey, please see the following reference:

Hoylande (Young) Failey's Timeline

  • 1903 Jun 26th Born in Columbus, Ohio.
  • 1922 Earned her B.S. in chemistry from Ohio State University.
  • 1926 Received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago.

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