Charles Holmes Herty was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, where his father, Bernard Herty, was the leading pharmacist. Young Charles was orphaned before he was 11 years old and was raised by an aunt, Miss Holmes, in Athens, Georgia.
Dr. Herty received a bachelor of philosophy degree from the University of Georgia in 1886, and his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1890.
After working in many positions with various universities, associations, and industries, Herty, in 1928, opened a consulting office in New York to develop natural resources of the South. He focused on naval stores from pine trees and promoted production materials from cellulose that remained after oil had been removed from trees. This was ideal because by this time, while at Chattanooga Pottery Company, he had already perfected and manufactured his patent invention, the Naval Cup, a device for generating naval stores from pine trees. This was a major step in improving the extraction of turpentine from pine trees.
Parallel to his work in New York, he served as director of research for pulp and paper at the Georgia State Department of Forestry. In 1932, he established a pulp and paper laboratory in Savannah, Georgia, now the Herty Foundation, to prove that cheap, fast growing Southern pine could profitably replace Canadian spruce in the manufacture of newsprint. Dr. Herty was head of this laboratory until his death in 1938.
Dr. Herty’s technological contributions opened the door to the use of Southern pine as a fiber source, creating the Southern pulpwood industry. His work provided the pulp and paper industry in the Western hemisphere with a vast source of fiber, and significantly increased the manufacturing base of the Southern states. He led research on pulp by-products, including rayon. He also promoted the synthetic camphor industry and promoted industrial research in cottonseed oils, kaolin clays, and agricultural by-products. During his career, Dr. Herty authored 75 papers.
Dr. Herty was a member of the American Chemical Society and served as president from 1915 to 1916. He was on the board of governors and chair of the cellulose committee of the National Farm Chemurgic Council. He was a member of the American Forestry Association and TAPPI from 1915 to 1918, respectively, until his death. The Herty medal, now administered by the Georgia Section Society, remains the South’s most distinguished award for its chemists.
Dr. Herty received various medals from the above organizations, plus honorary doctorates from Colgate University, Oglethorpe University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina, University of Florida, and Duke University. In 1940, the Charles Holmes Herty Memorial Highway was dedicated. In 1943, the Liberty Ship S. S. Charles H. Herty was launched.