Scientific Societies in the United States

Scientific Societies in the United States

Scientific Societies in the United States

Scientific Societies in the United States

Excerpt

The history and the influence of the scientific societies of the United States are the themes dealt with in this book. More than two centuries have elapsed since 1727, when Benjamin Franklin's Junto laid the foundations of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest scientific society now in existence in America. Since that time, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies have all arisen as new generations of American scholars have marched forward under the banner of science. Then, too, academies of science have come into existence in almost every state in the union; and, now, municipal scientific societies are flourishing in practically all our principal cities. National and local associations have been formed for the pursuit of the many specialized branches of science, from anthropology to zoology. As hitherto no extensive account of the history and work of American scientific societies has appeared, perhaps this book on the subject will help to fill a gap in the literature dealing with the intellectual history of our country.

There is a second and a more immediate need for a book at this time dealing with scientific societies. The past few years have taught the nation even more than did World War I the value of such societies in mustering out a roll of American men of science for war. This phase of national mobilization has necessitated up-to-the-minute revision of many of the later pages of this book in order to keep it abreast of the changes occurring in our national scientific set-up as World War II has progressed. It is hoped that this book looks toward the future, as well as back to the past and at the present, for it now appears likely that at least a skeleton roster of the nation's scientific personnel will be maintained into the post-war period, and that it will function in part through the scientific societies. It should be borne in mind also that international scientific organization, which partly collapsed both in the last war and then again under the rise of dictatorships and the eclipse of the League of Nations, will doubt-

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