Professor Emeritus, Inorganic Chemistry, College of Chemistry

University of California at Berkeley

December 27, 1927 - January 10, 2014


William Lee Jolly taught himself to take photographs and develop film using his father's Retina I after discovering the limitations of his Kodak Brownie camera.  Later, during summer vacations from chemistry studies at the University of Illinois he worked in photographic papers-connected departments for the Kodak Film Company.  In the '70's, Bill invented along with chemistry professor and photographer Clarence Rainwater, an effective developer for producing the Sabatier Effect and formed SOLAROL Company to market the product which was later taken on by Brandess Bros., Co. Over the years, Bill demonstrated his various chemical solarization methods to interested photographers (including his wife) in the darkroom of his house.  Jolly's work has been exhibited at the Scott Nichols Gallery, Focus Gallery, Photolab Gallery and the University of California, Berkeley Faculty Club.


William Lee Jolly, emeritus professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley, helped facilitate the renaissance of inorganic chemistry in the United States during the middle of the 20th century. Jolly worked as a group leader at the newly formed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA, from 1953-55.  He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1955 and began his career teaching freshman chemistry and inorganic chemistry classes.

During the 1950s and 1960s, he established courses, seminars and research programs in inorganic chemistry that have flourished to the present. Jolly wrote or edited numerous books, including Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry, The Synthesis and Characterization of Inorganic Compounds and, in 1987, From Retorts to Lasers: The Story of Chemistry at Berkeley.


Jolly’s research ranged over many areas: thermodynamics, volatile hydrides, sulfur-nitrogen compounds, liquid ammonia solutions (especially metal-ammonia solutions), and the hydrolyses of the borohydride ion and diborane.


Soon after x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy became popular, around 1968, he demonstrated the correlation of atomic core binding energies with atomic charges and with thermodynamic data. He also showed how a combination of atomic core binding energies and valence ionization energies can give important information about chemical bonding, not derivable from either energy type alone.

After he retired in 1991, Jolly worked exclusively on photographic chemistry, mainly on the elucidation of the Sabatier effect and related phenomena. He invented innovative print techniques such as chromoskedasic solarization and silver mirror printing. His photographic work was among the first whole, illustrated books to be published on a web site in  Solarization Demystified, written with the help of his second wife, Jane. His photographs have appeared in both the photographic literature and in various galleries.


Jolly was born December 27, 1927. He received his B.S. (1948) and M.S. (1949) degrees in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Ph.D. in chemistry at UC Berkeley in 1952 with Wendell Latimer.


In 1950, Jolly married Frances Anne Adams Bartholomew, with whom he had three children: Jeffrey Lee (1955), Steven William (1957) and Jennifer Frances (1961). In 1992 Frances died, and in 1995 he married Jane Vavra Weidringer.


He is survived by his wife, Jane; his sister, Jacqueline Getzin; his children, Jeffrey, Steven and Jennifer; his daughter-in-law, Kimberly; and his granddaughter, Breanna.