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j2 The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board In the early years of the Academy, requests for investigations, exper- iments, or reports of a scientific nature came largely from depart- ments or agencies of the federal government that lacked research facilities; few came from federal scientific agencies. Not until ~883 did the Academy appoint its first committee to apprise itself of problems arising in federal laboratories and, as a secondary mission, to work for closer relations between the Academy and the government.) In ~908, the Academy was asked by Congress to prepare a plan for the reorganization and consolidation of federal laboratories, whose proliferation had resulted in a tangle of duplicated effort. It found "nearly every department of the Government . . . involved to a greater or less extent" in scientific research, and the scientific agencies so entrenched in their departments that any real consolidation had become impractical, if not impossible. The Academy could only recommend establishment of a permanent board to maintain a watch NAS, Annul Report for 1884, p. ~ I. 347
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348 I The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board on these agencies in the government and submit its periodic findings to Congress for review.2 That counsel was not acted upon. From time to time thereafter the Academy warned that the "vast scientific effort" in these government agencies was destined to in- crease in complexity and importance, and offered to provide continu- ing constructive criticism and advice on their operation. In ~9~5, Academy President A. A. Michelson formed a special committee to make a survey "of problems of the Government closely related to the present work of the academy" and "to study the relation of the academy to greater problems as set up by the Government."3 But the government set no problems before the Academy, great or small; and the Academy remained, as John C. Merriam said four years later, "a potential adviser of the Government," constrained to "inform itself as fully as possible regarding the role of science and research in the Government, and especially concerning its objectives, its organization, and the available means for its support . . . solely . . . Efor] purposes of information for the academy itself."4 Federal expenditures for research agencies, which had been neglig- ible before World War I, soared to almost ~ percent of the national budget during that conflict, only to fall below half of ~ percent in the early twenties approximately $~3 million. Less than a decade later, with postwar advances in science and technology, industrial demands on the government, and the consequent expansion of its scientific agencies, federal research funds were slightly over ~ percent of the total budget, amounting almost to $40 million.5 With the onset of the Depression in ~93~, President Hoover de- creed economies at all levels of the federal establishment, including its research agencies. The Economy Act of June ~932 called for further cuts, as well as reduction of all government salaries by more than 8 percent.6 A year later the new Roosevelt Administration, promising rigid economy in federal expenditures in order to fight mounting unemployment, cut bureau budgets by 25 percent and made the 2 NAS, Annual Report for ~ 9Of9, pp. ~ 6, 2 7-3 ~ . NAS, Annual Reportfor 1925-26, p. ~ 3. 4 NAS, Annual Report for 1928-29, pp. 37-38; (chapter ~ o, pp. 298-300. 5 A. Hunter Dupree, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ~957), p. 333; Vannevar Bush, Science, the Endless Frontier (Washington: Government Printing Office, ~945), p. 80; The President's Scientific Research Board, Science and Public Policy. A Report to the President by.John R. Steelman, vol. I, A Program for the Nation (Washington: Government Printing Of fice, ~ 947), p. ~ o. 6 Science 76:94 (July 29, ~932) reported appropriations for federal laboratories reduced by ~2.5 percent, from $75.8 million in fiscal year ~93~-~932 to $66.3 million.
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 349 order retroactive by impounding current appropriations. When rumors spread that the Administration intended further slashes in the funds of federal research agencies, the Academy was at once alerted, and President William W. Campbell, noting the "intense anxiety" everywhere for the future of research, publicly called atten- tion to "the one and only purpose of the academy," its obligation to advise the government in just such matters, and offered its services.7 In May ~933, having received no response to his offer, Campbell left Washington for the summer. Other members of the Academy, particularly Isaiah Bowman, appointed Chairman of the National Research Council as of July I, ~ 933, felt that a more vigorous effort should be made on behalf of the threatened federal scientists. He felt that in a time of such emergency the Research Council should not sit back and leave the governmental science program to the economists, sociologists, and political scien- tists. What seemed to be needed was a flexible instrument of coopera- tion in scientific matters that would have the confidence and support of the Administration.8 Creation of the Science Advisory Board On June ~6, ~933, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NTRA) as the principal implement of the planned economy de- signed by the New Deal for its assault on the Depression. The Industrial Recovery Board (IRB), created under the act to put industry on its feet again through voluntary codes of conduct and wage and price controls, was to be under the guidance of three advisory boards representing the interests of industry, labor, and consumers. The National Research Council urged that a fourth group, a Sci- ence Advisory Board, be created to represent science in the New Deal and to assist the IRB in scientific and technical matters.9 Following an 7 "Minutes of the Executive Committee," March ~3, ~933, pp. 524-525; NAS, Annttal Reportfor 1933-34, p. i; William W. Campbell, "The National Academy of Sciences," Science 77 :549-552 (June 9, ~ 933). For Dr. Campbell's view of the impact on science of the Depression, see NAS, Annual Reportfor 1932-33, pp. ~-2; 1934-35, pp. 3-4. Of later import, Henry Wallace attended the dinner at which Campbell spoke in the spring of ~ 933 (Science, above). See also E. B. Wilson to J. C. Merriam, November 9, ~933 (NAS Archives: E. B. Wilson Papers). 8"Minutes of Meeting, Exec. Com., Division of Engineering," October So, ~933 (NAS Archives). 9 Albert L. Barrows, Assistant Secretary, NRC, to R. A. Millikan, July ~5, ~933; Isaiah
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350 / The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board initial discussion on June ~4 with Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper, Chairman of the IRB, Bowman presented his proposal for a Science Advisory Board on the morning of July ~ I. He got no encour- agement. His was a businessman's department, Roper said, and he was not really interested in the application of science to industry. Bowman left with the impression that Roper had "no genuine . . . understanding of scientific problems."~° That afternoon Bowman received a fortuitous telephone call from Henry A. Wallace, the new Secretary of Agriculture. Wallace had considerable scientific experience himself and was administrator of one of the largest research establishments in the government. He was due to appoint a new head of the Weather Bureau and wished advice on the selection to be made. In addition, he had received criticisms of the Bureau's policies and hoped for an independent appraisal of their validity. Bowman, seizing the opportunity, stated that recommendations on the Weather Bureau would be an ideal task for his proposed science advisory board and presented the plan in detail the next morning. Wallace was enthusiastic over the possibilities, saying with much satisfaction "that he had a similar idea in mind," and forwarded the plan to President Roosevelt that afternoon with the recommendation that the board be appointed. Three days later Roosevelt asked Wallace to draft the necessary executive order. On July z6 Bowman wrote to President Campbell at his home in California detailing these events; and the next day, in a telephone conversation with Campbell, he obtained his approval to prepare the proposed order for Wallace. On thinking it over, however, Campbell called back and, finding Bowman out, left word that he was to make no commitments without further consultation. With Wallace's assurance that Roosevelt would take no action until at least mid-August, Bowman decided to give Wallace the draft of the order he had prepared. On July 29, a member of Wallace's staff, after modifying the wording slightly, forwarded it to the White House with the request that it be signed "as soon as convenient." The result was an Executive Order (duplicating the draft) creating for a period of two Bowman to Daniel C. Roper, July ~9, ~933 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Establishment). I Bowman, Of fice Memo No. 6, July ~9, ~933; Of fice Memo No. ~3, July 2 I, ~ 933 (NAS Archives, ibid. ). tt Bowman, Office Memo No. As, July 2i, ~933; Office Memo No. ~ 2, july 22, ~933 (NAS Archives, ibid.); Henry A. Wallace to President Roosevelt, July 22, ~933 (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; copy in NAS Archives, ibid.).
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board I S~ ~ years "a Science Advisory Board of the National Research Coun- cil . . . with authority . . . to appoint committees to deal with specific problems in the various departments." It was signed by the President on July 3 I, ~ 933 That same day, John C. Merriam, after consulting Campbell, Roger Adams, and Robert A. Millikan by telephone, wired Bowman precau- tions in preparing the order: It was to be the Science Advisory Board of the Academy, not the Research Council, and its members were to be appointed by the Academy and not named in the draft, for that would make them in effect Presidential appointees. The telegram arrived too late, and efforts to offer a substitute order were turned down then and again a year later. The Presidential order, conferring on the Research Council author- ity that belonged to the Academy, created an underlying conflict in their relations for the duration of the Science Advisory Board, but in no way vitiated the efforts and accomplishments of the Board.~4 It was to succumb instead to the attitude of the New Deal toward the natural sciences and to the weightier influence of the social scientists, repre- sented by the President's National Resources Board. Named to the Science Advisory Board in the Executive Order were Academy members Isaiah Bowman, geographer and geologist; Wil- liam W. Campbell, astronomer and President of the Academy; Karl T. Compton, physicist; Frank B. Jewett, electrical Engineer and physi- '2 These are the essential details of the event related in Lewis E. Auerbach, "Scientists in the New Deal: A Pre-War Episode in the Relations between Science and Government in the United States," Minerva (Summer ~965), pp. 457-482, and in Carroll W. Purcell, Jr., "The Anatomy of a Failure: The Science Advisory Board, ~933-~935," American Philosophical Society, Proceedings 109 :342-351 (December ~ 965). ~, Bowman to W. A. Jump, Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, August 7, ~933, and attached text by Campbell for a new executive order (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Establishment); "Minutes of Executive Committee," April ~933, pp. 577-58~; January ~934, p. 609; April ~934, pp. 637, 669-67~; May ~934, pp. 676-677; June ~934, pp. 683-692; November ~934, p. 7~; correspondence in NAS Archives: E. B. Wilson Papers. For the Executive Order and initial planning, see NAS, Annual Reportfor 1933-34, pp. 55-58, and here as Appendix I. Greatly upset over the precipitously created, autonomous SAB, Campbell had to be satisfied with NRC acknowledgment of its error ("Minutes of the Council," November ~933, pp. 588-589, and attached documents; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1934-35, p. 7). See also Hale-Campbell-Bowman-Millikan correspondence, August-November ~ 934 (Carnegie Institution of Washington and California Institute of Technology, George Ellery Hale Papers: Microfilm Edition, ~968, Roll 9, Frames 237-242, 633-634; Roll 4, Frames 635, 643-647). t4 F. B. Jewett to W. H. Wright, March 27, ~947 (NAS Archives: jewett file 50.~5).
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352 I The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board cist; Charles K. Leith, geologist; John C. Merriam, paleontologist; Robert A. Millikan, physicist; Gano Dunn, electrical engineer; and Charles F. Kettering, industrial engineer. Compton was named Chairman. Organization ant! Activities of the Science Advisory Board The Science Advisory Board held its first meeting on August At, ~933. Bowman was appointed Vice-Chairman and Director of the Board, and Compton, Hewett, and Merriam to its Executive Commit- tee. Three federal departments Agriculture, Interior, and Navy- had already requested assistance, and committees were at once ap- pointed for the Weather Bureau, the Geological Survey and the Bureau of Mines, and the War and Navy Departments. On its own initiative the Board set up several general committees the Policy of the Government in Relation to Scientific Research; on Problems of Archaeology, Land Classification, and Homesteading, for the Tennessee Valley Authority; and on a Re- covery Program of Science Progress. After consulting with Gano Dunn, the Board also appointed one for the National Bureau of Standards. As the session ended, another committee was named, on Cooperation with Social Science Groups, to study and plan a program for integration of the natural sciences with the social sciences.~5 At the autumn meeting of the Academy that year, Compton re- marked on the extraordinary circumstances of the creation of the Board, its unique nature, and its potentialities: Whatever may have been the arguments pro or con for setting up an organization of this type (and I can speak of this quite objectively, because I had no knowledge that any such step was even contemplated until the executive order had been published), the fact remains that the situation has developed in such a way that through this board the Academy and the National Research Council are being given an opportunity to assist the government to an extent which has never before been equalled in the history of the Academy, with the exception of the critical period during the last wards ~5"Minutes of First Meeting of the Science Advisory Board, August 21 and 23, ~933" (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Meetings). The evolvement of the SAB commit- tees appears in the two published reports of the Board. ~6 K. T. Compton, "The National Academy of Sciences. Address of Welcome," Science 78:516 (December 8, ~933). In a letter to Campbell, June z9, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Termination), Compton called the Board "an opportunity to perform an effective
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 353 Members of the Science Advisory Board at its first meeting on August 2 ~ and 23, ~ 933. Left to right, seated: Isaiah Bowman, Karl T. Compton, William W. Campbell, and John C. Merriam. Standing: Robert A. Millikan, Charles K. Leith, and Frank B. Jewett (From the archives of the Academy). Like the National Research Council, the Board was created for a national emergency. Over the years, as Bowman said, the Research Council had become oriented and organized "according to the several fields of science rather than around the administrative and scientific problems of the Government." A new agency of the Academy was required, and had been achieved in the Science Advisory Board, whose enabling order specifically directed it "to carry out to the fullest extent" the intent of the Order that created the National Research Council fifteen years before.~7 By autumn, the Board had "probably advisory function which has been unequalled in any one epoch of the Academy's history, unless it be during the time of the War and perhaps in the years immediately following the Academy's formation." When he heard of the formation of the Board, E. B. Wilson thought the "new government [in response to Dr. Campbell's May ~933 offer] had invited the [assistance of the] Academy, on a broader scale than it ever had been ... before.... " [Wilson to Campbell, September lo, ~934, and September 22, ~933 (NAS Archives: E. B. Wilson Papers)]. For Campbell's reaction to "a Science Advisory Board of the National Research Council [that had] relieve[d] the Academy of a duty and prerogative," see Campbell to Paul Brockett, September I, ~933, and attached correspondence (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Establishment: EO in Conflict with NAS Charter). ~7 Bowman, "Creation of Science Advisory Board," memorandum attached to letter, H. A. Wallace to President Roosevelt, July 22, ~933 (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; copy in NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Establishment).
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354 / The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board received more publicity than any scientific activity since the World War." The first report of the Board pointed out the opportunity at hand: "In the evolution of our national life we have reached a place where science, and the research which has discovered and released its powers, can not be regarded as matters of accidental growth and application, but must be consciously related to our social life and well-being." The Board had therefore determined to make "not only a study of the functions, relationships and programs of the several scientific bureaus but also the place of science in the Government structure," and the degree of responsibility proper to the administra- tion for conducting, supporting, and guiding that research.~9 As it turned out, the Board was more successful in settling administrative problems in federal science agencies and providing moral support for their programs than in shaping policy. The Board found the scientific services of the government spread through forty bureaus, of which eighteen were primarily scientific. Their appropriations in ~933, after the recent reductions in funds, comprised a bare one-half of ~ percent of the total federal budget. The agencies, faced with the consequent necessity of choosing where to withdraw or redraw their lines of research and of restating their functions and objectives, required disinterested and expert advice. That year and the next the Board appointed eighteen committees, each with a Board member as chairman or participant. Altogether, the Board set down its findings in twenty-five detailed reports to the agencies and offices concerned. Its work was financed, when adequate federal funds were not forthcoming, by an emergency grant of $50,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation.20 To enable them to take advantage of new advances in their fields, many of the federal agencies proved as much in need of better organization and direction of effort as of larger appropriations. The failure of the Weather Bureau to institute improved methods of forecasting recently developed in Scandinavia had been cited as a factor in the loss of the dirigible Akron in April ~933. That and other ~e Frank C. Whitmore, Dean, School of Chemistry and Physics, Pennsylvania State College, to F. D. Roosevelt, October lo, ~933 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Appointments: Members: Proposed). ~9 Science Advisory Board (hereafter SAB), Report, 1933-1934 (Washington, D.C., September 20, ~ 934), p. ~ I. 20 SAB, Report, 1933 - 1934, pp. 12, 15; SAB, Report, 1934 - 1935 (Washington, D.C., September I, ~935), p. 2~; K. T. Compton, "The Government's Responsibilities in Science," Science 81 :347 (Arpil ~ 2, ~ 935).
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 355 alleged administrative shortcomings had subjected the Bureau to the criticism of the American Society of Civil Engineers and had indi- rectly helped to bring about the creation of the Science Advisory Board. A new airmass-analysis method had been developed abroad that used upper-air data to predict the advance of surface weather, and the Board recommended its adoption by the Weather Bureau, to- gether with the construction of some twenty upper-air stations. Other recommendations included consolidation of its methods of reporting meteorological data, more frequent issue of daily weather maps, and institution of a planning program looking to the development of long-range forecasting. These proposals and the necessary reorgani- zation were accepted by the Bureau, contingent on additional ap- propriations by Congress, and were acted on several years later.22 The National Bureau of Standards in the Department of Com- merce was representative of a number of agencies whose research, although absolutely essential to the national welfare, had been seri- ously impaired by the recent economies. The Science Advisory Board committee found that Bureau testing of materials for government departments and state institutions, a valuable and expensive service not provided for in the organic act of the Bureau nor in its appropria- tions, represented a fixed charge of 45 percent against Bureau funds. The actual loss through reductions and impounding of funds for ~933 and ~934, amounting not to so percent "but to about 70%," had resulted in the dismissal of almost a third of the staff and in serious curtailment of almost every one of its research programs.23 A joint committee, which included the Bureau's Visiting Committee and members of Secretary Roper's Planning Council and the Science Advisory Board, urged with some success an end to projects that did not bear on the Bureau's basic functions, such as its commercial standards work and much of its industrial research. On the other Rewind Vortex Wrecked Airship 'Akron'," Scientific American 149:125 (September ~933) 22 SAB, Report, 1933-1934, pp. ~ 7- ~ 8, 47-58; 1934-1935, pp. 4O-42, lo I- boy; prior report in Science 78:582-585, 60~607 (December ~933). See also Special Committee on Airships, Report No. I, General Review of Conditions Affecting Airship Design and Construction with Recommendations as to Future Policy, January 16, 1936; Report No. 2, Review and Analysis of Airship Design and Construction Past and Present, January 30, 1937 (Stanford: Stanford University Press), pp. ~ ~-~2 (copies in NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations & Science Advisory Committee: Subcommittee on Design & Construction of Airships); Donald R. Whitnah, A History of the United States Weather Bureau (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, ~ 96 ~ ), pp. ~ 59- ~ 6~ . 2~ SAB, Report, 1933-1934, pp. 23, 62-63;~ Science 78:61 Duly 2l, ~933).
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35,6 / The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board hand, the committee's restatement of Bureau functions, giving a truer picture of its operations and thereby ensuring better funding, was not acted upon until more than a decade later, although its overhaul of Bureau bookkeeping was accomplished in the appropriations act of .2 The loss to industry of its considerable research program at the Bureau of Standards was compensated to a degree by the Science Advisory Board committee established at the request of the Depart- ment of Commerce to consider means of stimulating development of new and noncompetitive industries. The committee recommended measures "to increase the presumption of validity of issued patents" and to strengthen the scientific and technological expertise of courts presiding over patent litigation.25 The Board committees found much waste and inefficiency in the numerous small research laboratories that had proliferated through- out the federal establishment and recommended the elimination of many of them by transfer or consolidation. This was done in the case of the Soil Erosion Service, transferred from the Department of the Interior and consolidated with a similar agency in Agriculture.26 The most extensive report of the Board, running to ~65 pages, dealt with the elaboration of mapping and surveying activities in federal agen- cies, twenty-eight of whom carried on mapping operations. Although many were sufficiently specialized to merit retention, the Advisory Board committee found no reason why those in the major services- the Coast Survey, Geological Survey, U.S. Lake Survey, and Interna- tional Boundary Commission with new objectives formulated by the Board, could not be consolidated in a single central mapping agency. The recommendations of the Board were approved in principle by all concerned, but administrative difficulties were immediately raised. No agency would relinquish control of its own special interests.27 The transfer of the Minerals Division in Commerce to Interior's Bureau of Mines was one in a series of recommendations of the Board that included policy, an extensive program of mineral research, and utilization of resources, which were subsequently put into effect in conjunction with the President's National Planning Board.28 Another joint project with the Planning Board (which became in lone ~934 the National Resources Board) provided much needed scientific basis for 24 SAB, Report, 19331934, pp. 62 - 68; 19341935, pp. 52 - 54. 25 SAB, Report, 19331934, pp. 25 - 26; 19341935, pp. 49 - 50. 26sAs,Report, 19331934, p. ~9; 19341935, PP 43 - 44 27 SAB, Report, 19331934, p. 2~; 19341935, pp. 46 48. 28 SAB, Report, 19331934, pp- 26 - 27; 19341935, pp- 54 55, 58 59.
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board / 357 dealing with economic problems that confronted federal agencies concerned with land resources, soil erosion, overgrazing, and other land uses.29 Lesser matters on which the Board acted included: the initiation, in cooperation with the Smithsonian, of archaeological surveys in the Tennessee Valley for the preservation of Indian artifacts from the dams' flood waters; a study of those science advisory agencies in Great Britain that were integral adjuncts of the government; research re- quirements for establishing consumer standards; and scientific considerations in harnessing the tidal power at Passamaquoddy Bay. Problems that were raised, but on which no action was taken because they were outside the purview of the Board, included a request for recommended changes in the liquor tax laws to favor dilute alcoholic beverages, a development plan for the Columbia River Basin, and considerations on the establishment of a national industrial research laboratory.30 If "a fair degree of accomplishment" attended much of the Science Advisory Board's effort to aid federal science agencies, its attempts to resolve the snarl of the mapping agencies and to offer scientific assistance to federal relief projects were ''unavailing.'' Nor was it successful in establishing satisfactory liaison between the natural and the social sciences, or closer relations between science and govern- ment. Before the year was out the hopes of John C. Merriam, chairman of the two relevant Science Advisory Board committees, had considerably diminished.32 "Recovery Program of Science Progress" More in the spirit of the New Deal was the Science Advisory Board's "Recovery Program of Science Progress," offered to the Administra- tion in the fall of ~933. It originated with Karl T. Compton, at the first meeting of the Board, in response to the efforts of national scientific and engineering societies to make a place for scientific and technical research in the expanding federal programs of unemployment relief and public works. 29 SAB, Report, 19331934, pp- 28 - 32; 19341935, pp. 55 - 58 so SAB Report, 19341935, pp 65 - 67 3~ SAB, Report, 19331934, pp. 4~43; 19341935, pp. 2~23. S2 The SAB report lists both committees but reports no accomplishments. SAB, Report, 1934-1935, p. 32. as SAB Report, 19331934, p. 4°
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 37 ~ Professor of Embryology. He remained there the rest of his academic career, becoming full professor at the age of thirty-six and in Rio, upon the death of Whitman, Chairman of the Department of Zoology and Director of the Woods Hole laboratory. In ~93~ he organized a new division of biological sciences at Chicago and served as its dean . . . . unto his retirement, In ~935. It was at Woods Hole that Lillie's absorbing interest in embryology led him in egos to his discovery of the degree of independence in the events of cell differentiation and growth, observed in his studies of the eggs and larvae of the tubiculous polychaete annelid.67 That research and his continuing inquiry into the mechanism of egg fertilization resulted in his election to the Academy in ~9 ~5. Probably his most significant discovery, however, was made two years later when, questioning the accepted chromosome theory of sex determi- nation, he demonstrated in cattle embryos the important role of the little-known sex hormones in the embryonic differentiation of sex characteristics.68 When the Research Council, ahead of the times in the year ~9~, appointed a Committee for Research in Problems of Sex (see Chapter 9, p. 263), Lillie was made a member and served actively on the committee for sixteen years. The summer research in marine zoology at Woods Hole led to a growing interest in the ocean itself and the developing science of oceanography. In ~927, after two years of preparation, Lillie per- suaded Academy President Michelson to appoint a Committee on Oceanography to explore the status of that science in this country and the research being pursued abroad. The reports of the committee, of which Lillie was Chairman, resulted in ~g30 in the establishment of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, over which he presided for eleven years. Lillie was in his sixty-fifth year and about to retire from his university post when he was called to the dual position at the Academy. Chosen specifically to ease the tensions between the Academy and the Research Council, he brought to the task notable talents, a soft-spoken and undramatic manner, and a rare faculty for administering without seeming to do so.69 A year later, having re- stored amicable relations between the two bodies, he was able to 160 (October ~948)]. George Ellery Hale was also called to Chicago, as Professor of Astrophysics, in ~897. 67 Benjamin Wilier, NAS, Biographical Memoirs 30:208-210 (~957). Sillier, ibid., 2~8-2~9; "Biographical Memoirs," American Philosophical Society, Yearbook 1947 (~948), pp. 267-268. 69 Willier, The Biological Bulletin 95: 152 (October ~ 948).
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372 / FRANK RATTRAY LILLIE (1935 - 1939) relinquish the chairmanship of the Research Council to Ludvig Hek- toen, Professor Emeritus of Pathology at Chicago's Rush Medical College and long an active member in Research Council affairs. As Lillie said, "It was not good policy to continue to subordinate the Council so much to the Academy; a single year was sufficient to restore the constitutional relations which had become seriously strained previously."70 Expiration of the Science Advisory Board The April ~935 meeting of the Academy, which elected Frank R. Lillie President, also resolved the organizational impasse between the Academy and the Science Advisory Board. Merriam, aware that the Board was due to expire that July, proposed that the Academy's long-standing Committee on Government Relations be reorganized to assume the Board's functions. A committee of Campbell, Day, Mer- riam, Compton, and Wright was appointed immediately to consider Merriam's proposal. Their report, as amended by the Executive Committee of the Academy Council in May, called for a broadly representative group headed by a small Executive Committee under the President of the Academy.7~ In order to allow time for an orderly transition, President Roosevelt was asked to issue an Executive Order extending the life of the Board until December ~ .72 In a letter to Lillie on July ~ 5, Roosevelt agreed to do so and, referring to the advisory activities of the Academy, the Board, and the Research Council, asked that the Academy "provide some single agency, board or committee which can carry on the work of the Science Advisory Board and related activities" after the Board's expiration. Upon activation of such an agency, he would "request the Government departments and scientific bureaus to utilize and coop- erate with that agency."73 70 Ross G. Harrison, in The Biological Bulletin 95 ~56 (October ~948); Lillie, autobio- graphical memorandum, quoted by Willier in NAs, Biographical Memoirs 30:222 (~957); E. B. Wilson to W. W. Campbell, April ~6, ~936 (NAS Archives: E. B. Wilson Papers). 7~ NAS, Annual Report for 193435, pp. ~7SO; NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Committee on Government Relations: Reorganization: ~935. 72 Compton, `'Memorandum of Conversation with Charles W. Elliot, ad, National Resources Committee," June ~2, ~935; Lillie to Compton, two letters datedJuly 6, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Continuation of Board to December). 73 Roosevelt to Lillie,July ~5, ~935; Executive Order Woo, July ~5, ~935 (NAS Archives, ibid.), reprinted here as Appendix I).
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 373 TH E WE ITE HOUSE WA S H I N G T O N July 15, 1935. Dr. }Pr~;k R. Lillie President, liational cicada of Sciences Constitution Umbrae & 21a t Street, N. I., Washington, D. a. By dear President Millie: In accordance with recommendations fram you and from Doctor Earl T. Cotton of the Science ~lviso~sr Board, I signing ~ Ulcerative Order extending the Science Torn }3oard to Dec~iber 1, 1935, in order that the work now Under mur c" be carried on Until more permanent am~gements are He by the National "aaegy of Sciences. the Station Academy of Sciences finder the provisions of its Congo - siona1 charter is required ~'rhene~rer called Upon by am department of the Govemment to lnv~tigate, examine, experiment and report Upon mar subject of science or "t.~ It Am, throb its Itatio~1 }lee earch Council, permanently orbed contacts with the Scientific and technical bodies of the country. During the past two years it has been implemented by He Science 8~viso~:r Bo~d, through Which its members have become more infer el~rel~r Tented with the scientific services of the Souredt and their problem. In order to secure the most effective scientific advisory service, based on the experience of those three agencies, I hereby request the badly to pro~riae same single agency, board. or committee which can carry on the Errors of the Science Tyson Bo~a and related activities after Decadber 1, 1935. Upon receipt of word from the Acidly ~ to the committee or other organization through High the Academy Wishes to per fone this service, I shall be glad to request the Government departments said scientific beret to utilize and cooperate with that agency. Sincerely bob, - --/ ,~/~'Q~/ - President Roosevelt's letter to Frank R. Lillie, extending the life of the Science Advisory Board to December 1, 1935 (From the archives of the Academy).
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374 / FRANK RATTRAY LILLIE (19351939) Compton agreed to the transfer of the Board's functions to the Academy as a "compromise . . . because it seemed the only way open to save the Advisory Service" in the face of "influential members of the Academy who otherwise would have remained critical and obstructive." However, he considered the loss of Presidential ap- pointments under the compromise "a definite sacrifice." The prestige of Presidential appointments had been critical to the success of negotiations of Board members with the federal bureaucracy; with- out this prestige the new Academy agency would find its work "a continual up-hill struggle."74 The danger that appointments would be made on narrow political grounds had been avoided, he believed, by the requirement in his March ~935 "National Program" that the appointees be nominated by the Council of the Academy.75 Lillie remained unconvinced. His observations in Washington had been that the "feeling both in Government circles and also in the Academy [was] that the special urgency that promoted the appoint- ment of the Science Advisory Board and many of its undertakings" was passing. The time had come to adopt "more routine forms of procedure.... I am unable to see, apart from considerations of human frailty, why we cannot set up as effective an organization as we have hitherto had in the Science Advisory Board."76 Nor would Lillie agree to the importance of retaining the Board's name under the new structure, a measure Compton felt necessary to maintain the good will of government officials accustomed to dealing with the Board. Lillie wrote Compton early in November that reten- 74 Compton to Lillie, two letters dated October 7, ~935; Compton to George E. Hale, November 4, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Report: Second: Comments & Criticisms). See also NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Termination: ~935. 75 SAB Report, 1934 - 1935, pp. 79, 8~. 76 Lillie to Compton, two letters dated July 6, ~935 (cited in note 72); Lillie to Compton, September 2 I, ~935, and October 9, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Report: Second: Comments & Criticisms). At that stage of the Depression and of dwindling income, the Research Council was under an even greater pressure than the approaching demise of the Science Advisory Board to obtain a "central purposes fund" for the survival of its own functions, especially for the support of fellowships, of conferences and of special studies and committees organized by the Council, of the general administrative budget of the Council, and for certain international scientific projects. In October ~935, with the end of the Board near, Frank Lillie as Academy President and Chairman of the Research Council sought and obtained a series of special grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation as the "central purposes fund . . . tiding the Council over a period of reduced income" [Warren Weaver, Rockefeller Foundation, to Lillie, January 22, ~936 (NAS Archives: FINANCE: Funds: Grants: Rockefeller Foundation); NAS, Annual Report for 1935-36, pp. 40-4~, gg-~oo; 1936-37, p. 37].
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 375 tion of the name would "arouse all the old antagonism" within the Academy. Instead, the Board should be satisfied that the Executive Committee of the reorganized Committee on Government Relations was dominated by former members of the Board (six of the seven members).77 Later that month, however, Compton obtained a major- ity vote in the Council of the Academy to rename the committee the Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee.78 Over the next several years, the Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee continued the Science Advisory Board's studies on dirigible construction, naval signaling, Biological Abstracts, the Na- tional Bureau of Standards, the Weather Bureau, the War and Navy Departments, and the patent system. Other requests arrived as well, among them those on soil conservation and the toxicity of food additives and agricultural sprays (Department of Agriculture), on metallurgical research and physical variations in the American popu- lation (National Resources Committee), and on cancer research (Sen- ate Commerce Committee).79 The committee did not have the role of scientific watchdog and policymaker that some in the Academy had hoped for. On being informed of the committee's organization, in December ~ 935 Roosevelt had sent his promised letter to all scientific agencies in the government announcing the committee's assumption of the functions of the Science Advisory Board and its continuing availability. But, while the letter stated that the Academy committee would accept requests for advice on matters of "scientific research," it went on to indicate that the Science Committee of the National Resources Com- mittee would be available "for the consideration of the broader long time scientific problems of natural and human resources."~° The New Deal, apparently, would remain in the hands of the "planners." 77 Lillie to Compton, November 5, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: Termination). The Executive Committee members were C. K. Leith of the University of Wisconsin and former Board members Lillie, Bowman, Compton, Day, Hewett, and Millikan (NAS, Annual Report for 1935-36, p. 6). 78"Minutes of the Council," November 30, ~935, pp. ~o7-~og. This special meeting of the Council, specifically called to consider the name of the committee, was convened under a provision of the Academy's Constitution allowing any two members of the Council to request a meeting ("Minutes of the Council," November 30, ~ 935, p. ~ og). 79 NAS, Annual Report for 1935-36, pp. 24-25; 1936-37, p. 22 et seq. 8° Roosevelt to Lillie, December 26, ~935, enclosing "Memorandum to the Scientific Agencies of the Federal Government," December 26, ~935 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: Beginning of Program: Announcement).
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376 .bD ~ ~ _ o ,.,_- i,, so ~ o I. ;,, ., o lo. E ’= 5) o^ ·> ° ~ ~ ~ ~ ’ E ~ ~ a "D ~ ~ ~ ~ sit O ~ ~ ~ ~ _ .C a _ _ 50 ,~ ~ ~ ’ Do . ~ j _, _ ~ _ C) = ~ ~ ~ o a, ;' ~ ~ lo E ~ ~ ;^ ~ C, C ~ Ct ~ X ’ ~ ~ ~ us - ~ 3 ~ met ~ ~ =, ~ . q, u 3 ~ zip ~ ., ~^ r, E ,, e, E
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 377 The Academy felt itself completely cut off from matters of gov- ernment policy. Jewett, "humiliated," considered it hardly worth my while to devote time to the details of research problems of the government departments. I say this because of a feeling that if my training, experience and judgment are of any value to the scientific depart- ments of the Government that value lies rather in the field of matters of scientific policies which may or may not embrace research, than in the narrower field of research alone.82 On January 20, ~936, following a meeting of the Executive Com- mittee of the Government Relations and Science Advisory Commit- tee, Lillie wrote Delano at the National Resources Committee that it was the Academy's understanding that "the wording of the Presi- dent's memorandum . . . is not intended to restrict in any sense the meaning of the Congressional Charter of the Academy, nor of Presi- dent Wilson's Executive Order. . . perpetuating the National Re- search Council...." Three months later no reply had been re- ceived.84 As the war approached, requests to the Academy began "coming thick and fast." Jewett, who succeeded Lillie as President in ~939, saw the need for a more efficient and less cumbersome setup for the Academy and Council than the one we now have, and one which will be less confusing to the Departments of Government. It would seem to me that we ought to be able to do this in time to present the matter to the Academy or its Council at the time of the fall meeting, and if possible secure their approval. I am fain to confess that I feel rather lost and helpless in the present complexities of the setu~probably because I have been dumped into it at a time when there are a number of matters requiring immediate urgent 8t "Meeting of January ~ 9, ~ 936, Government Relations and Science Advisory Commit- tee [Executive Committee]," p. 4 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: Executive Committee: Meetings). Marked "Very Confidential" by Lillie, this transcript records the efforts of the Executive Committee to understand the genesis of the President's memorandum and to devise means to circumvent its wording. 82 Jewett to Lillie, January 8, ~936 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: Beginning of Program: Announcement). 85 Lillie to Delano, January 20, ~936 (NAS Archives, ibid.). 84 Minutes, Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee, April 26, ~936, Appendix i, pp. 4-5 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: Meetings). Lillie's report on the situation a year later is given as Appendix N of the minutes of the committee's meeting on April 25, ~937 (NAS Archives, ibid.).
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378 / FRANK RATTRAY LILLIE (19351939) attention. But if the Academy will approve I should think it would be relatively simple to set up a mechanism for the speedy and efficient handling of these urgent preparedness problems.85 By that time, all hope for a broader role for the Government Relations Committee had gone. At the Academy's autumn meeting in October ~ 939, Jewett announced its dissolution. "When Government requests are received in the future they will be referred to specially appointed committees. This was the practice followed before the establishment of the dissolved committee."86 The Science Advisory Board, quite apart from the tensions under which it operated during its short life, was ill-starred from its incep- tion. The Depression that prompted it seemed for a time as great a national calamity as the world war that had brought the National Research Council into being. But the early elan of the Administration, in dealing with the Depression, was not sustained. Increasingly, the government assault on unemployment and the wayward economy became a highly personal and politically oriented experiment and ceased to command overall national cooperation. The Board, in the role of Academy spokesman for the natural sciences, was suspect from the start. At its first meeting Isaiah Bow- man had "emphasized the criticism leveled at science as one of the alleged contributors to the present instability of society." "The early depression hysteria," wrote Compton, ". . . looking for a scapegoat, sought to place on 'technology' the blame for the crash." Efficiency experts in industry had found "in the products of science, ways of lowering labor costs of production, and so . . . science [was viewed] as a menace."87 The Board had hoped to refute that criticism. 85 Hewett to Arthur Lo. Day, September ~8, ~939 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: General). In contrast to the concerns for organizational prerogatives seen during the years of the Science Advisory Board, the war years saw a relaxed pragmatism in the relations between the Academy and the Research Council, most often reflected in joint commit- tees (NAS, Annual Report for 1939~0, p. 7; 1940~f 1, p. 4O). 86 Brockett to jewett, October 2, ~939 (NAS Archives: SAB Series: ORG: NAS: Government Relations and Science Advisory Committee: End of Program); NAS, Annual Report for 1939~0, p. 7. The previous year, the long-dormant Division of Federal Relations in the Research Council had been disbanded by transferring its members to the disciplinary divisions of interest to them. 87"Minutes of the First Meeting of the Science Advisory Board," August Al, ~933; mimeographed draft of "A National Program . . . ," February Al, ~935, Appendix D, p. ~ (NAS Archives: SAB Series: EX Bd: SAB: National Program for Putting Science to Work for National Welfare: Report to U.S. President: Drafts).
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 379 When industry failed to respond to the succession of federal emergency measures and unemployment continued to soar, criticism of the role of science in the nation rose, too. It should be put under a moratorium, some said, "in order that there may be time to discover, not new things, but the meaning of things already discovered." Almost alone in the Administration, Henry Wallace denied "that science should take a holiday. Science has turned scarcity into plenty. Merely because it has served us well is no reason why we should charge science with the responsibility of our failure to apportion production to need and to distribute the fruits of plenty equitably." Nevertheless, he agreed with those asserting that the physicists, chemists, and engineers had "turned loose upon the world new productive power without regard to the social implications." Science had not, nor could it, provide "the means of plenty until it has solved the economic and social as well as the technical difficulties involved." Or until, through social science, there was a "better controlled use of science and eng~neering."89 Although the Science Advisory Board had maintained liaison with the Social Science Research Council and the Academy had provided members for the National Planning Board, there had been no true rapprochement. And, despite its early optimism, the Advisory Board came to admit the defeat of its promise. Because of the failure of its efforts to lend scientific assistance to any of the federal emergency programs, to raise the estate of science in the federal establishment, or to institute a national program for economic recovery, the relations of the Academy with the federal government and the cause of science suffered a setback. The Public Works Administration, Work Projects Administration, and other relief agencies were giving work to 20,000,000 persons; and federal employees, numbering s88,ooo when the Depression began, headed toward the total of ~,3'o,ooo reached in ~94~. But across the nation almost ~o,ooo,ooo remained unemployed. Industry began moving again, but cautiously. While scientists in and outside the government continued to insist that new discoveries, so L. Magruder Passano, "Ploughing Under the Science Crop," Science 81:46 (January ~ i, ~ 935), an answer to Campbell's article on criticisms of science in Science 80 :535-537 (December ~4, 1934). 89 Wallace, "The Social Advantages and Disadvantages of the Engineering-Scientific Approach to Civilization," Science 79:1-5 (January ~5, ~934); Wallace, "The Scientist in an Unscientific Society," Scientific American 150-151:285-287 (June ~934), and replies by Merriam and others, ibid. (August ~934), pp. 77-79, Boy; Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, p. 349.
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380 / FRANK RATTRAY LILLIE (19351939) inventions, and enterprises were needed to prime the economy and stimulate industry and consumer buying, the economists and social scientists of the Administration saw more planning as the answer. Scientists and planners came together briefly in December ~938 when Delano's National Resources Committee,90 studying the research re- sources available to the federal government, requested the coopera- tion of the National Research Council in the preparation of a report on the research resources of industrial laboratories.9~ The Academy hesitated. Although the menace of war was rising in Europe, Frank Jewett said that in the absence of a real emergency, the project seemed "of doubtful expediency . . . due partly to uncertainty as to how the material, once gathered, would be used." Industry proved even more reluctant to participate, fearing "another fishing expedition for the purpose of ham-stringing private enterprise."92 The National Resources Committee assured the Research Council that it would have complete charge of the report. The Council's study of industrial research, the second of three volumes comprising Research- ~ National Resource, appeared in ~94~. It was preceded by a volume on the relation of the federal government to research, pre- pared in ~938 by the Science Committee of the National Resources Committee under the direction of Charles H. Judd, Professor of Psychology at Chicago, and was followed by a final study on business research, prepared by the Social Science Research Council. Congress had already been convinced of the need to replenish the stock of science and technology as the source of new industries and as insurance in the event of war. Between ~937 and ~94~ a number of bills were proposed in the House and Senate that were designed to support programs of basic research in physics, chemistry, metallurgy, and engineering. In several of the bills, the research was to be carried out by nonprofit research institutions, in cooperation with federal agencies, through grants administered by the National Research Council. Most promising was the Lea Bill (H.R. 3652) proposed in ~939, which called for almost $60 million to be expended over sev- eral years, 75 percent of that sum going to research in the natural 90 See Clinton H. Merriam, "The National Resources Planning Board: A Chapter in American Planning Experience," The American Political Science Review 38:1075-1088 (December ~944). 9' Delano to Ross Harrison, Chairman, NRC, December 8, ~938 (NAS Archives: EX Bd: Committee on Survey of Research in Industry: Beginning of Program). 92 Jewett to C. M. A. Stein,June ~6, ~939 (NAS Archives, ibid.); Frederick W. Willard to Jewett, November 2 I, 1939 (NAS Archives: EX Bd: Committee on Survey of Research in Industry: General); Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, p p. 358-36O.
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The New Deal and the Science Advisory Board 1 38 ~ sciences and engineering. But by June ~ 94 I, as the debate on the bills continued, all chances of their enactment ended.95 The onus on science did not lift, however, nor did the Depression, until World War II absorbed the mass of idle manpower and gal- vanized the nation once again into concerted action. 93 See Carroll W. Pursell, Jr., "A Preface to Government Support of Research and Development: Research Legislation and the National Bureau of Standards, ~935-4~," Technology and Culture 9: 15~160 (April ~ 968).
Representative terms from entire chapter: