|Dr. Otto B. May (1880-1952)
Photo: Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry
Dr. Otto B. May was one of the pioneers of the American dyestuff industry. Dr May was born in 1880 in Worms, Germany. He
received his PhD in pharmacology at the University of Strassbourg in 1904, after which he came to the United States in 1907. He
served two years as instructor in chemistry at Columbia University and assisted Professor Coblentz in his revision of the United
States Pharmacopeia. He married the former Eugenia Morgenstern in 1911 and came to Newark to work for the Johann Hoff Malt
In 1919, when the advent of Prohibition caused the closing of the Johann Hoff firm, of which Dr. May was general manager, he
organized the May Chemical Works. His purpose was to manufacture chemicals and dyes which were badly needed since imports
from Germany were interrupted by World War I. He was the first to manufacture the dry color Red Lake C, which was the principal
red color used for printing inks. His firm was said to have been the largest U.S. maker of this color until it was sold to the Calco
Chemical Company in 1929.
Dr. May joined Calco and served as an executive for eighteen months until 1931 when he resigned, repurchased his factories at
Niagara St, Newark, and organized Otto B. May, Inc. to manufacture vat dyes. Dr. May was president. His son, Ernest M. May, joined
the firm in 1938 to continue its management.
Dr. May died October 26, 1952 at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife Eugenie May, two children, Ernest M. May and Mrs. Helen
M. Strauss, eight grandchildren and a brother Cornelius May.
Adapted from article "Otto B. May Dies At Age of 72", American Dyestuff Reporter, Vol. 41, No. 24, November 24, 1952, p. 789
Otto B. May Biography
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