Lloyd A. Hall was born in Elgin, Illinois on June 20, 1894. He was an African-American chemist who is best known for his work in food chemistry. This was a new branch of industrial chemistry and in 1939, people were interested in knowing just what the Institute of Food Technologist were. As Lloyd Hall continued to make contributions to his field of science, the world continued to take advantage of his study and new discoveries.
Lloyd Hall was born in Elgin, Illinois, on June 20, 1894 and had an interesting family background. Hall's grandmother came to Illinois via the "Underground Railroad' at the age of sixteen. His grandfather came to Chicago in 1837 and was one of the founders of the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church. He later became the church's first pastor in 1841. Halls parents, Augustus and Isabel, were both high school graduates.
Although Hall was born in Elgin, he was raised in another town in Illinois called Aurora and was raised by his father Augustus Hall and mother Isabel Hall. His father was a Baptist minister and son of the first pastor of the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church, which was the first African American church in Chicago. Hall's mother was a high school graduate whose mother had fled to Illinois via the Underground Railroad at the age of sixteen. It was through the strict teachings and respect of others by his parents that Hall was able to overcome adversity and succeed as a scientist.
Dr. Hall got his start in science by taking a chemistry class at East Aide High School in Aurora, Illinois. It was this class that sparked his interest in the field of chemistry and at that time (around 1908), science was not very popular with high school students. However, with Lloyd Hall, all sciences were interesting. Lloyd graduated among the top 10 in his class of 125. There were five black students at his high school throughout his four years - him being one.
Lloyd Hall was an active young man, he participated in debating and athletics including being the captain of the debating team for a year and a letterman on the track and baseball team. Besides his extra curricular activities, Lloyd Hall made time to deliver morning newspapers and keep his grades high. Hall graduated among the top ten in his class and was offered scholarships to four Illinois universities. Of all the universities, Hall chose to attend Northwestern University.
There, Lloyd worked his way through college and majored in chemistry. He graduated in 1916 with his BS degree and decided to pursue chemistry in the graduate program at the University of Chicago.
Lloyd encountered discrimination when he was hired by telephone by the Western Electric Co. Fortunately, his chemistry background secured him position as junior chemist in the Chicago Department of Health Laboratories. One-year later, he rose to the position of senior chemist and two years later, Lloyd left to be chief chemist at the John Morrell Co. in Ottuma, Iowa. He remained there for two years.
In September of 1919, Lloyd married Myrrhene E. Newsome and it was two years after his marriage that he moved to a larger company - the Boher Chemical Laboratory in Chicago. There, he served as chief chemist. By that time, Lloyd's interests had turned to chemistry of food, which at that time was a new field of chemistry. In 1922, Lloyd became president and director of a consulting laboratory, the Chemical Products Corporation, in Chicago. He accepted a full time job offer there and was appointed chemist and director in 1925. He maintained this position until his retirement in 1959.
It was before 1925 that Dr. Lloyd went to the Griffith Laboratories that he began research in salts for curing and preserving foods. Sodium chloride (table salt) had been used as a meat preservative with sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate. The mixture reddened the meat and gave it a nice color, but Lloyd found that the sodium chloride penetrated the meat slowly, while the nitrate and nitrite went faster. Since this was undesirable because the meat would disintegrate before the sodium chloride could penetrate (to preserve it), Lloyd designed the nitrate and nitrite inside the sodium chloride crystal by "flash-drying" the solution of these salts. In this way, the sodium chloride could dissolve and penetrate to preserve the meat before the nitrogen containing nitrates and nitrites inside the salt crystals could be released to cure the meat. As a result Lloyd's "flash dried" crystals were widely used in the meat industry. He further improved the storage of meat later by introducing tartrate and glycerine in the salt solution so that it would be more powdery than cake-like from the moisture.
Lloyd also researched the sterilization of foods and substances associated with food. Lloyd found that spices marketed carried with them millions of germs in the form of bacteria, molds and yeasts. Lloyd carried out a number of tests to kill the germs. This is when germ-killing ethylene oxide gas came into the picture. Our spices became sterilized and the process was then used for drugs, medicines, and medical supplies, just to name a few. Lloyd's method of sterilization is in general use throughout our country.
Hall spent a considerable amount of time in consulting work which lead to projects such as puncture sealing composition. He had an active interest in fields of seasoning, spice extractives, and enzymes, as well as detergents, vitamins and asphalt. He devoted much of his time to the development of yeast foods. His work in these different fields led to more patents in his name. At last count, Hall had been granted 105 United States and foreign patents and methods he invented.
Hall served in WWI and WWII as a science advisor. He helped in WWI, he was assistant Chief, Inspector of Powder and Explosives and during WWII, he was a member of the Committee on Food Research of the Scientific Advisory Board; he helped maintain military food in supplies in pure and palatable form.
Hall served on many committees that dealt with food chemistry and was very active in the American Institute of Chemists. He also held positions on this board during the duration of his active status.
Lloyd Hall was presented with many honorary awards, along with establishing lists of patents on chemicals. He was awarded the Honor Scroll Award in 1956, the Honorary Secretary and Chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Board of Directors, American Institution of Chemists and many others. He has been granted approximately 105 United States and foreign patents on products and methods he invented. Hall is also the author of about fifty scientific papers.
Lloyd Hall was an extraordinary man, he was brilliant and willing to try new things. He was a humanitarian because he worked hard at trying to create a better way of preserving food and keeping people healthy. Thanks to Lloyd Hall we, today, have better ways of keeping our food fresh longer.
As you can see, Lloyd A. Hall contributed to science with his new method's in food chemistry as well as being an active member in many science-oriented boards and committees. Hall retired in 1959 from the Griffin Laboratories to pursue relaxation in sunny southern California. He died on January 2, 1971.
Brown, Mitchell. Lloyd Augustus Hall: Chemist and Inventor. Louisiana State University Libraries, 1997. www.lib.Isu.edu/lib/chem/display/hall.html
Haber, Louis, Black Pioneers of Science and Invention, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. New York, 1970. p. 103-111.
Sammons, Ovelton. Blacks in Science and Medicine. Hemisphere Publishing, 1990, pp. 109-110