Daniels Family Papers, 1842-1984


(Miriam) Olive Bell Daniels

Olive Bell Daniels, genealogist, artist, world traveler, mother of four children, and wife of a prominent University of Wisconsin chemistry professor was born July 20, 1891 in Oxford, England, the daughter of Ernest and Mary Bell. At the time of Olive Bell's birth, her father was studying in the India Institute at Oxford preparing for missionary work in India. In 1892 the Bell family sailed to the island of Jaffna north of Ceylon. Due to health problems, the Reverend Ernest Bell could not remain in India and so the family returned to the United States when Olive was not yet three years old.

While her father recovered his health and sought a new ministry, Olive went to live in Minneapolis with her mother's sister, Sarah Slater, and her husband, Edwin. She lived with the Slaters in Minneapolis for most of the years until her marriage. Meanwhile, her brothers and sisters (Clare, Rex, Harold, Eleanor, Jesse, and Beth) lived in Chicago where her father had established a city mission. Olive was required to write weekly letters to her family in Chicago thus establishing the extensive correspondence file that comprises the bulk of the Daniels family papers.

Olive attended Central High School in Minneapolis and graduated from West High School as valedictorian in 1909. From 1909 to 1913 she attended Oberlin College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a major in history. She taught history and composition at Alexandria, Minnesota, for two years following graduation from Oberlin. From 1915 to 1917 she was director of religious education in Plymouth Congregational Church in St. Paul.

Olive married Farrington Daniels on September 15, 1917 and lived in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., before moving to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1920. During her many years in Madison, Mrs. Daniels was active in numerous church, university, and civic organizations. A member of the First Congregational Church on Breese Terrace, she once served as head of its Missionary Society. For two years she was head of the literature department of the Women's Club, and as a member of the Madison Art Guild she exhibited her art work. Other memberships included the American Association of University Women, the Civics Club, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Daniels valued highly her travels with her husband, whose professional interests and research resulted in three trips around the world during which she met many prominent scientists and government officials. Descriptions and anecdotes concerning those trips are included in her travel correspondence and biography of Farrington Daniels. In 1981 Olive was writing her reminiscences covering the years from her childhood to her marriage. She died March 7, 1984.

Farrington Daniels

Farrington Daniels was born March 8, 1889 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The son of Franc Birchard and Florence L. (Farrington) Daniels, he received B.S. and M.A. degrees in chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1910 and 1911. In 1914 he received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard. He taught physical chemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1914 to 1917. During World War I Daniels served in the Chemical Warfare Service as a first lieutenant. In 1920 he went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he taught until his retirement in 1959. From 1945 to 1946 he was director of the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago which was connected to the Manhattan Project. From 1952 to 1959 he was chairman of the Chemistry Department at the University of Wisconsin. After his retirement from regular teaching duties in 1959, Farrington pioneered research in the uses of solar energy. In 1964 he published Direct Use of the Sun's Energy. Daniels was president of the American Chemical Society in 1953, president of the Geochemical Society in 1958, vice-president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1957 to 1961, president of the Solar Energy Society from 1964 to 1967, and president of the Sigma Xi Society from 1965 to 1966. Daniels held the rank of emeritus professor when he died in Madison on June 23, 1972.