Benjamin Franklin Scott (1922-2000)

Baker Explosion, Operation Crossroads, Bikini Atoll, July 25, 1946
Courtesy United States Department of Defense

Born in Florence, South Carolina, October 19, 1922, Benjamin Franklin Scott was an African American chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II.  The son of Benny and Viola Scott, Benjamin had two older sisters, Mary and Rosa.

Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942 from Morehouse College, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott continued his education at the University of Chicago where he earned a Master of Science degree in 1950.

Between the years of 1943-1946, Scott worked as a chemist on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory. The Manhattan Project, one of the most important scientific projects of the 20th century, led to the development of the atomic bomb, which ended World War II. Other notable African American scientists who worked with Scott at the Chicago laboratory include Harold Delaney, Moddie Taylor, and Jasper Brown Jeffries. Scott – like both Jeffries and Taylor – earned a graduate degree from the University of Chicago, but his came after World War II and his involvement on the Manhattan Project.

Scott held numerous positions after his appointment as a chemist on the Manhattan Project, including working as a subcontractor and manufacturer of Geiger counters from 1946-50. This is important because Geiger counters are instruments that are used to detect radiation. Scott worked as a radio-chemist and later Chief Chemist for the Nuclear Instrument Company (1949-63). The Nuclear Instrument Company was renamed the Nuclear-Chicago Corporation (Chicago, Illinois) in 1954.

In 1963, Scott began working as a Technical Director for the New England Nuclear (NEN) Assay Corporation (Boston, MA).  While working at NEN, Scott co-authored an article in the peer-reviewed journal Analytical Chemistry, which is a top-tier journal in the chemistry field.  In addition, Scott published his research efforts in the Journal of Radioanalytical Chemistry and several reports published by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1952, 1959, and 1961 focusing on radiometric methods and emission by uranium-235.

Scott married Bessie Joyce Sampson who was also a native of South Carolina. Their son was born in 1950. Scott died on October 16, 2000 in Sumter, South Carolina at the age of 77.