Eric was a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1982 with a B.A. with highest honors in European History. His honors thesis on the origins of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science was done under noted Kaiser Wilhelm II scholar Professor Lamar Cecil. Eric received an M.A. in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985, and was a research assistant for dissertation adviser Professor Arnold Thackray, serving as student librarian for the rare chemistry holdings of the E. F. Smith Memorial Collection at Penn.

Eric’s experience in the analysis of varied source materials and his ability to synthesize information into helpful narratives is shown by his work in four distinct kinds of history products.

Penn’s Center for History of Chemistry, today’s Science History Institute, nested around the E. F. Smith Memorial Collection where Eric worked, It sponsored several researchers studying the history of plastics and polymer chemistry. Before the late 1920s, colloid chemistry, here shown as the study of oozes and slimes, provided the theoretical framework to describe polymer behavior.
Peter J. T. Morris and Yasu Furukawa were two of Eric’s cohorts in the Penn discussion on polymer history. Furukawa here cites Eric’s Yale talk on colloid chemist Wolfgang Ostwald, a central figure in Eric’s unfinished dissertation, “The Wizards of Ooze: Colloid Chemistry in Germany 1900-1933..”
Eric chairing a presentation session at the 2018 Bethlehem (PA) Moravian History conference.
From the illustrated booklet prepared to accompany Eric’s Polymers and People exhibit, with his text and mages.
Opening panel of Eric’s exhibit on the Moravians’ use and appreciation of flowers
A third of the photos in Eric’s history of the West End neighborhood he gathered from private family collections.
  • Public History – Eric’s first efforts to create interpretive history on-site came in 1991, volunteering a sketch of ideas to a task force seeking to create a new Forsyth County history museum (a form of which finally opened in 2008 and is now being re-envisioned as MUSE). In 1993 Eric worked with task force member Barry Miller, company archivist at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, to create a lobby display of that company’s historic product packaging. Eric’s 2004 photo history of the historic West End neighborhood – home to the Reynolds, Hanes and Gray families when Winston-Salem was the largest city in the state – is a book that reads in part like an on-site tour guide. In 2005 Eric fashioned a display of some of the book’s most compelling images into a twice-appearing exhibit at the Winton-Salem Visitor Center. Eric’s later sketch of a permanent display on the history of the former Fries factory housing the Visitor Center was interrupted by a request in 2012 by family friend Lynette Matthews-Murphy to tell on-site the story of the A. H. Bahnson House, the location of her new Spring House Restaurant. Finally, in 2013 owner Dana Bryson invited Eric to tell the story of the Fries factory alongside a large “family tree” in the lobby of her Historic Brookstown Inn, the conference facility which also shared the Visitor Center space.
Scenes from the 2013 opening of Eric’s exhibit at Historic Brookstown Inn, sharing the story of the Salem Cotton Manufacturing site and its key role in understanding the town’s nineteenth-century history
Red Cross “doughnut girl” Elizabeth Williams of Gloucester, NC – one of Eric’s favorite World War II oral history interviews (photo collected by Eric for UNCG’s Women Veterans Historical Project)
  • Oral History – Eric assisted with research for several oral history interviews with chemists for the Center for History of Chemistry in grad school. In 1999 he was recommended by Barry Miller, then at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, to University Archivist Betty Carter as she sought to conduct interviews with World War II women veterans in preparation for the Class of 1949’s fiftieth reunion. That class contained the first group of alumnae who attended school on the GI Bill. Eric created release forms modeled after those from the Oral History Program at the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill (now Southern Oral History Program); and he designed an Access database form to track biographical, donation and processing information on each interviewee. 128 of Eric’s interviews, mainly with the first generation of vets to “free a man to fight,” have been transcribed and are now accessible through UNCG’s Betty Carter Women Veterans Historical Project (WVHP). In 2003 Eric authored a successful $50,000 NEH Consultation Grant to help the school examine options for the use and distribution of the the oral history collection.
Eric’s talk to invited vets in 1999, with insights from his first set of interviews, was printed by the University as a keepsake.