Richard Newman Brackett

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Richard Newman Brackett, Ph.D., (September 14, 1863-November 27, 1937), served as an associate professor of Chemistry at Clemson Agricultural College, July 29, 1891-1910, acting Professor of Chemistry, director of Department of Chemistry, September 1, 1910-1911, Professor and Director - Department of Chemistry and Chief Chemist Fertilizer Division, July 11, 1911-1933, and Professor of Chemistry, Curator of Chemistry Library, 1933-1937. (MacIntire, Walter Hoge, "Obituary - Richard Newman Brackett", Reprinted from Journal of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, May 1938, page iii.)

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, and son of Rev. Gilbert Robins Brackett who was pastor of Charleston's Second Presbyterian Church, and Louise Theresa Newman, he attended private schools until 1878. At age 15, R.N. Brackett entered Davidson College and received his A.B. degree there in 1883. His Ph.D. came from Johns Hopkins where he majored in chemistry and minored in minerology, dynamic geology and mycroscop petrography.

From 1887 to 1891 he served the Arkansas Geological Survey as chief chemist and joined the original Clemson faculty in 1891. He served Clemson for 46 years and survived all other members of the first faculty.

He married the former Bessie Brandon Craig, originally of Cabanass County, North Carolina, on June 6, 1889, in Atlanta, Georgia. They had two children, Helen Evans Brackett (later Mrs. Franklin T. Waddill, of Cheraw, South Carolina) and Newton Craig Brackett, of Edisto Island, South Carolina.

An undated clipping by T. D. Kemp, Jr., in Special Collections, Strom Thurmond Institute, states that "For many years Professor Brackett was in charge of state fertilizer control in South Carolina. In this capacity he distinguished himself as a practical agricultural chemist. In collaboration with another chemist, he discovered two new minerals, newtonite and rectorite. In 1920 he was made chief chemist of the South Carolina Agricultural Experiment station. In connection with this position he carried on many important investigations and published a number of interesting bulletins and papers."

He served Fort Hill Presbyterian Church at Clemson for 14 years as a deacon and 22 years as elder and Clerk of the Session. He was treasurer during the early years of the church. He, his wife and their eldest son, are buried at Old Stone Church. ("The Old Stone Church, Oconee County, South Carolina" collected and edited by Richard Newman Brackett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, Clemson College, S.C., 1905, reprinted by the Old Stone Church and Cemetery Commission in cooperation with the Pendleton District Historical and Recreational Commission, 1972.)

According to the undated clipping by T. D. Kemp, Jr., in the Special Collections, "Professor Brackett is a member of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, the American Chemical Society, the Association for the Advancement of Science, and the South Carolina Academy of Science. Clemson students admired him, not only because he was an able teacher, but because of his wise and helpful counsel on all matters. Former students affectionately refer to him as 'Dicky Brackett,' which name he does not object to in the least."

Brackett was elected to Emeritus Life Membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February 1937, the Anderson Independent reported on February 12, 1937.

Prof. Brackett was made an Honorary Alumnus of Clemson College at the annual meeting of the Alumni Corporation May 31, 1937.

Brackett Hall is named for him.

This is the Clemson Wiki project's 1,123rd article.


  • Richard Newman Brackett, folder, Series 38, Special Collections, Strom Thurmond Institute
  • Kemp, Jr., T. D., "Retires As Dep't Head At Clemson", unknown newspaper, undated but circa post September 1933 when Brackett had "recently celebrated his seventieth birthday" (September 14, 1933), page unknown, R. N. Brackett folder, Series 38, Special Collections, Strom Thurmond Institute.

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