Sons of Science: The Story of the Smithsonian Institution and Its Leaders

Sons of Science: The Story of the Smithsonian Institution and Its Leaders

Sons of Science: The Story of the Smithsonian Institution and Its Leaders

Sons of Science: The Story of the Smithsonian Institution and Its Leaders

Excerpt

The Smithsonian Institution began as the nebulous dream of a man seeking to perpetuate his name and at the same time to serve the human race. Faced, at the age of sixty-one, with the problem of disposing of his fortune of about £100,000, James Smithson, a bachelor Englishman, drew up a will that made history in the field of science. The Institution that grew from his dream is now more than a hundred years old--its centenary was celebrated in 1946. As it goes into its second century it seems fitting to retell its story, with special attention given to the men who have shaped its destiny and have helped to make it one of the world's leading cultural and scientific centers.

I have heard people ask--people who all their lives have known the name Smithsonian--just what is the Smithsonian Institution? Paradoxically, the answer is simple, yet it is not simple. For the basic answer we must go back to James Smithson's will. He wanted, he said, "to found . . .

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