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Among the oldest and most enduring of American institutions are those that have been devoted to the encouragement of the arts and the sciences. During the nineteenth century, a great many scientific societies came and went, and a few in individual disciplines achieved permanence. But the century also witnessed the founding of three major organizations with broadly interdisciplinary interests: the Smithsonian Institution in 1846; the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, which in 1848 became the American Association for the Promotion (later, Advancement) of Science; and the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.

The founding of the National Academy of Sciences represented a momentous event in the history of science in the United States. Its establishment in the midst of a great civil war was fortuitous, perhaps, and its early existence precarious; and in this it mirrored the state of science at that time. The antecedents of the new organization in American science were the national academies in Great Britain and on the Continent, whose membership included the principal men of science of the realm. The chartering of academies under the auspices of a sovereign lent the prestige and elements of support and permanence the scientists sought, and in return they made their scientific talents and counsel available to the state.

The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963 describes the National Academies from inception through the beginning of the space age. The book describes the Academies' work through different periods in history, including the Postbellum years, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II.

Suggested Citation

National Academy of Sciences. 1978. The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

710 pages |  6 x 9 |  DOI:
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xiii
1 The Academy's Antecedents 1-15
2 Scientists and Scientific Organizations in Mid-Century America 16-42
3 The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 43-78
4 The Government Calls upon the Academy 79-99
5 Postbellum Years and the Crisis within the Academy 100-133
6 The End of the Nineteenth Century 134-164
7 The Academy Marks Its Semicentennial 165-199
8 World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 200-241
9 The Research Council's Permanent Status and the Academy's New Home 242-280
10 The Twenties: New Horizons in Science 281-316
11 The Academy during the Great Depression 317-346
12 The New Dealand the Science Advisory Board 347-381
13 The Academy in World War II 382-432
14 The Postwar Organization of Science 433-474
15 The Years between the Wars 475-516
16 The Academy in the Fifties--Beginnings of the Space Age 517-564
17 Academy Centennial 565-594
APPENDIX A Act of Incorporation: National Academy of Sciences 595-597
APPENDIX B Minutes of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at the Meeting Held for Organization in the Chapel of the New York University on the 22nd, 23rd,and 24th days of April 1863 598-605
APPENDIX C Constitution and By-Laws of the National Academy of Sciences, Adopted January 1864 606-613
APPENDIX D Members and Foreign Associates of theNational Academy of Sciences,1863-1963, and Year of Election* 614-633
APPENDIX E Officers and Members of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences, 1863-1963 634-643
APPENDIX F Executive Orders Defining the Duties and Functions of the National Research Council 644-647
APPENDI X G Chairmen of the National Research Council 648-649
APPENDIX H Executive Secretaries and Executive Officers of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council 650-651
APPENDIX I Executive Orders Relating to the Science Advisory Board: Establishment, July 31, 1933; Appointment of Additional Members, May 28, 1934; and Continuation, July 15, 1935 652-656
Name Index 657-670
Subject Index 671-694

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