The Robert L. Burwell, Jr. papers fill twenty-nine boxes and are arranged in six subseries: correspondence, teaching files, research and consulting files, professional organization files, speeches, and publications.
In Box 1 are several folders of biographical materials pertaining to Burwell's education and his service on various Northwestern University committees. The folders labeled “Personal Data” and “American Chemical Society Award (Lubrizol) for Petroleum Chemistry” include summaries of Burwell's research activities. Of considerable interest are the notes and reports produced by Burwell while serving on the Northwestern University Science Committee in 1960.
The correspondence subseries is organized into general and subject categories; subject files are arranged alphabetically by topical headings. Within folders correspondence is arranged in chronological order. The files contain much material documenting Burwell's many trips and speeches; numerous letters of recommendation; visits from overseas scientists; and work with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Also included are four folders of refereeing correspondence (Box 5, Folders 11-13, Box 6, Folder 1) reflecting Burwell's views on the work and authors in his field during the period 1948 to 1982.
The teaching files include syllabi, problems, quizzes, exams, and notes for undergraduate courses, mostly physical chemistry and thermodynamics, taught by Burwell. The bulk of these files, however, relates to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; included are correspondence, reports of class and research work, and occasional notes and manuscripts produced jointly by the graduate student or fellow and Burwell. Curricular materials are arranged sequentially by course number. Files on students and postdoctoral fellows are arranged alphabetically according to individuals' surnames.
Burwell was frequently a research advisor and a consultant for both industrial and governmental organizations, including the DuPont Corporation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation. His research and consulting files contain pertinent correspondence, reports, and notes. The files are arranged alphabetically according to project, research topic, organization, or agency name.
The professional organization files document Burwell's substantial professional activities, particularly with the American Chemical Society, the Catalysis Society, the International Congress on Catalysis, and the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The files include correspondence, drafts of reports, and, for IUPAC, a variety of materials relating to its information bulletins on nomenclature and definitions. Files are arranged alphabetically according to organization name.
Burwell's speech files are arranged alphabetically by title or topic. They include notes, drafts, illustrative figures and related correspondence.
The publications files, comprising ten boxes, include drafts and correspondence relating to over 150 of Burwell's scientific publications. These files are arranged alphabetically by article title. When available, a reprint of the published article is included. When Burwell submitted more than one manuscript to a journal at the same time all relevant materials are filed under the title that falls first alphabetically. Where no manuscript material is present book reviews and reprints are arranged chronologically in folders at the end of the series.