Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NICHOLS, William Ripley, chemist, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 30 April, 1847; died in Hamburg, Germany, 14 July, 1886. He was graduated at Massachusetts institute of technology in 1869, where he taught during his senior year, and was afterward instructor and assistant professor until 1872, when he was elected professor of general chemistry, which chair he retained until his death. Professor Nichols was n member of the German chemical society, of the American academy of arts and sciences, and the American association for the advancement of science, of which he was vice-president in 1885, delivering before the section on chemistry a retiring address on "Chemistry in the Service of Public Health." He was recognized as an authority on most of the branches of chemistry that relate to sanitation, and among his researches, at the request of the Massachusetts board of health, was a valuable series on the ventilation of railway-trains, particularly the effects of the atmosphere of smoking-cars. Professor Nichols's specialty was potable water, and he published numerous papers on the water-supplies of cities, he was devoted to the interests of the Institute of technology, and compiled a record of the " Publications of its Officers, Students, and Alumni," in which may be found a complete list of his own papers down to 1882. Besides his scientific papers he published in book-form " An Elementary Manual of Chemistry," abridged from Eliot and Stored"s manual, with the co-operation of the authors (New York, 1S72); a "Compendious Manual of Qualitative Analysis," by Charles W. Eliot and Frank H. Storer (1872), this and subsequent editions being revised by him; "Water Supply, mainly from a Chemical and Sanitary Standpoint" (1883): and, with Lewis M. Norton, "Experiments in General Chemistry " (printed privately, Boston, 1884).
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