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8 World War ~ and the Creation of the J~ati()nal Rese,arcI', Council WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (1913—1917) It was George Ellery Hale's opinion, as he wrote Charles D. Walcott a year before the end of President Remsen's term of office, that the new President, who should live in Washington or its immediate vicinity, must be a man of an optimistic and progressive type, committed in advance to a strong forward policy. The position of Home Secretary is hardly less important.... EHe should also be] someone in Washington ... and my own choice would fall upon LArthur L.] Day, as I feel sure that he would possess the necessary qualifications. If you were elected President, I should like to see such a man as tHenry F.] Osborn made Vice-President.' The conservative members in the Academy, joined by "such progres- sive members as Conklin, Noyes, Osborn, Chittenden, and Day, to ~ George Ellery Hale to Charles D. Walcott, May ~7, ~9~2 (NAS Archives: NAS: Future of NAS). 200
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / 20 William Henry Welch, Presi- dent of the Academy, ~9~3- ~9~7 (From the archives of the Academy). mention no others" that Hale spoke for, agreed instead a year later on a nationally prominent figure from nearby Baltimore. On the morning of the third day of the semicentennial celebration in ~9~3, with sixty-three members assembled, Dr. William Henry Welch, the foremost pathologist in the nation, received a majority of the votes for President on the formal ballot, and his election was at once made unanimous. The vote for Vice-President a few minutes later went for a second time to Charles D. Walcott, Secretary of the Smithsonian. He asked that the office go to a younger man—both he and Welch were sixty-three but persuaded by Remsen and Hale, he accepted, and his election, too, was made unanimous. Arthur Day, Director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution, was elected Home Secretary, and Hale and Whitman Cross continued in the offices of Foreign Secretary and Treasurer.2 These were the men who would lead the Academy during the World War I years that lay just ahead. 2 "Minutes of the Academy," April ~ 9 ~ 3, pp. ~ 64- ~ 65. In a rare personal observation in his diaries, Walcott wrote that day: "I was reelected Vice President although not wishing it. The Academy drifts along without any fixed policy" (Smithsonian Archives: C. D. Walcott Papers, Walcott Diaries, ~9~3-~927).
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202 / WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (1913-1917) Welch was unquestionably the preeminent figure in American medicine. He had been born into a family of physicians, and, during his schooling in medicine and chemistry in the early 1870S, his interest centered on pathology, then largely confined in this country to lectures. In ~876-1878 he studied pathology in laboratories at Stras- bourg, Leipzig, and Breslau. Upon his return, Bellevue Hospital Medical College permitted him to organize a small pathology labora- tory, the first in the United States, and there he taught and practiced until ~ 884. He then went to Johns Hopkins, where Dr. John S. Billings, who was organizing the Hospital and Medical Department, had recommended him as Professor of Pathology and head of the new laboratory. As influential as Welch became in restructuring American pathol- ogy, he is far better remembered for his staffing of the Hopkins Medical School. When its first unit, the Hospital, opened in ~889, Sir William Osler was in medicine, William S. Halsted in surgery, and Howard A. Kelly in gynecology; and later Franklin P. Mall in anatomy, William Henry Howell in physiology, and John }. Abel in pharmacology and chemistry. Welch was elected to the Academy in ~ 895. In ~ go ~ he was appointed President of the Board of Scientific Directors of the Rocke- feller Institute for Medical Research, in ~ 906 a trustee of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and three years later Chairman of its Executive Committee. "That most urbane gentleman and leader of the medical profession in this country," as A. G. Webster called him, had been a member of the Council of the Academy for nine years when he became President in ~9~3. Welch was a short portly figure but extraordinarily impressive with his high forehead, whitening mustache, and spade beard. In temper- ament he was hernial, outgoing, and an inveterate optimist. A lifelong bachelor, he found time outside his many professional commitments for a wide range of interests arid, above all, for travel. He was in Europe in the summer of ~9~4, headed for Carlsbad, where he planned to rest and take treatment for his gout. Arriving in Munich, he found the recht gemutlich city he knew well . In the midst of a great war excitement.... The streets, restaurants and cafes are crowded with people; the bands play only national airs, and the air everywhere echoes with the modest shouts of "Deutschland uber Alles." It is all quite thrilling, but a general European war is too horrible to contemplate, and it seems impossible that it will occur.3 ~ Simon Flexner and James Thomas Flexner, William Henry Welch and the Heroic Age of American Medicine (New York: Viking, ~94~), pp. 365-366.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / ~o3 Two weeks later "war developments shad] proceeded with such in- credible rapidity that we found ourselves trapped in Switzerland without immediate prospect of escape." Only with much difficulty did he manage to reach England for the trip home, arriving back in Washington on September 7.4 In the week after Welch reached home, the French and British forces drawn around Paris met the German armies converging on the city and, as the days passed, slowly brought the enemy's initial surge to a halt. It was the beginning of a struggle that marked the passing of an era. Government Requests to the Academy Welch had headed the Academy a full year before his trip abroad, handling with dispatch two requests from the government before his departure. In May ~9~3, the Secretary of Agriculture asked the Academy to recommend a number of names from which a new Chief of the Weather Bureau might be chosen. Aware of the opportunity "of establishing an important precedent," as Welch said, and eager for that scientific post to be removed "from the category of political appointments," as Robert S. Woodward, chairman of Welch's commit- tee, wrote in his report, the committee recommended a single name, Charles F. Marvin, Professor of Meteorology in the Weather Bureau.5 Professor Marvin became the Bureau Chief and held the post for the next twenty years. In February ~ 9 ~4 a request from President Woodrow Wilson arrived, signed with his characteristic complimentary close, "Cordially and sincerely yours," asking that an Academy member serve with representatives of the Department of Agriculture and the Smithso- nian on a special commission to survey the condition of the fur seal herd in the Pribilof Islands. The President asked the commission to provide "the fullest possible information respecting the seal herd" on the Islands, acquired by the purchase of Alaska from Russia in ~867, Add. 5 "Minutes of the Council," May 2 I, ~9~3, p. 95; "Minutes of the Academy," November ~8, ~9~3, pp. ~72-~75; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1913, p. 23. Upon Marvin's retirement in ~933, the Academy, through its Science Advisory Board, recommended his successor, Willis R. Gregg, and, upon the latter's death five years later, his successor, Frances W. Reichelderfer, as chief and C. G. Rossby as assistant chief [Science Advisory Board, Report for 1933 -34 (Washington, ~ 934), p. ~ 9; NAS Archives: NAS: Govt Rels & Sci Adv Com, Subcom on Weather Bureau, ~938-39].
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204 / WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (1913—1917) and to recommend a policy for the administration and regulation of their numbers. The Academy named Harvard zoologist George H. Parker, who, with Edward A. Preble of the Biological Survey and Wilfred H. Osgood of the Field Museum of Natural History for the Smithsonian, left that summer for a stay of five weeks in the Islands.6 A recurring outcry had been raised again over the alleged destruc- tion of the herd under federal administration, bringing it close to extinction. The commission's findings denied it. Even though the ruinous pelagic sealing had been outlawed in ~9~, there was still a considerable imbalance in the revived herd, now numbering almost three hundred thousand, but with improved management, according to the report, it would fully recover in a year or two. Indeed, said the report, for the welfare of the herd, and with proper selection, there was good reason to resume some commercial sealing at once. A more serious problem was the human population, whose condition was by no means creditable to the government. The Islands represented a sound investment with good returns, but needed better government of the natives and qualified appointees for the management of the seals.7 The commission's judgment was correct. Through continued in- ternational cooperation and with careful management, the herd steadily increased until it numbered more than 3 million animals, the largest and most important fur seal herd in the world. Shortly after Welch's return from abroad, President Wilson again called on the Academy, asking for a report on the possibility of controlling the landslides seriously interfering with the use of the recently completed Panama Canal. The French had abandoned an attempt to build the Canal in ~889, after ten years of effort, defeated by the near futility of trying to construct a sea-level channel across the mountainous isthmus and by the toll among the workers in the disease-ridden terrain. In ~904 the project was taken over by an American task force. In ~907, Lt. Col. (later Maj. Gen.) George W. Goethals of the U.S. Army Engineers was appointed to head the task force. With the medical assistance pro- vided by Lt. Col. (later Brig. Gen. and Surg. Gen. of the Army) 6 NAS Annual Report for ~ 914, pp. ~ 3- ~ 5. F.or Joseph Henry's interest in the exploration of"Russian America," see Henry to Louis Agassiz, April 26, ~867; Henry to Hon. W. P. Fessenden, May ~8, ~867; Henry, "Diary," May 23, ~867 (Joseph Henry Papers, Smithsonian Institution Archives). 7 Wilfred H. Osgood, Edward A. Preble, and George H. Parker, The Fur Seals and Other Life of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, in 1914 (Washington: Government Printing Office, ~9~5), ~72 pp.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / 205 Laborers excavating a ditch through the toe of Cucaracha slide, Panama Canal (Photograph courtesy the National Archives). William C. Gorgas, he successfully completed the project. The first ship crossed the isthmus in August 1914. In every year since construction had begun along a new course through the hills of Panama, the sliding of the canal banks had held up the work, the great slide in Culebra Cut late in ~9~3 delaying the opening of the 'canal for ten months. The engineers believed the sliding was mechanical, but its persistence had persuaded some among them that other forces might be at work, and the Academy was asked to investigate. The Academy committee of nine, made up largely of engineers and geologists headed by geologist Charles R.
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206 / WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (1913—1917) Van Hise, arrived in the Canal Zone in December 1915. Two months later, in "an informal forecast" to President Wilson, the committee reported that slides may be a considerable . . . maintenance charge upon the Canal for a number of years . . . and that trouble in the Culebra District may possibly again close the Canal. Nevertheless, the Committee firmly believes that, after the present difficulties have been overcome, navigation through the Canal is not likely to be seriously interrupted. There is absolutely no justification for the statement that traffic will be repeatedly interrupted during long periods for years to come. The final report, prepared by Whitman Cross and H. Fielding Reid, was submitted to the President in November ~9~.8 Four months before the formal opening of the Panama Canal the Academy established, through the efforts of its member George F. Becker, a medal—the only one of its kind at the disposal of the Academy then or later for "eminence in the application of science to the public welfare." Made possible by a trust fund set up in the name of industrialist Marcellus Hartley, the first awards, in April ~9~4, went to Goethals and Gorgas.9 The Academy, which had sought for four years to establish such an award, cordially welcomed the fund. As Elihu Thomson's medal committee explained, technical and scientific inventions usually earned their own rewards, but there were other applications of science not so recognized, and pointed to Spencer Baird's establish- ment in ~87~ of the Fish Commission, which, despite its vast impor- tance to the nation, would not have entitled him to membership in the Academy. In ~9~6 the Public Welfare Medal went for the first time to an Academy member, Cleveland Abbe, for his inauguration in ~869 of daily weather reports and his contributions in the service of the Signal Corps and the Weather Bureau since ~87 I. A second medal that year went to Gifford Pinchot, the organizer of the conservation movement and tireless crusader for systematic conservation of the nation's natural resources.~° In ~9~', the medal was awarded to the Director The preliminary report appeared in NAS, Proceedings 2:193-207 (April ~5, ~9~6); the final report, in NAS, Memoirs 18: I-135 (~924). 9 "Minutes of the Academy," November Tog, pp. 39-4~; NAS, Annual Report for 1913, p. 24; 1914, pp. TO-DO, 27. a "It was really Pinchot's candidacy that gave rise to this medal," George F. Becker wrote A. G. Webster, March ~5, ~9~3 (NAS Archives: NAS: Trust Funds: Hartley Fund: Public Welfare Medal). Pinchot had been nominated three times but never elected to Academy
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 1 207 of the National Bureau of Standards, Samuel W. Stratton, for his "services in introducing standards into the practice of technologists." In that same year Stratton was elected to the Academy. The election in ~ 9 ~ ~ to the Academy's Physics Section of William F. Durand, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Leland Stanford University; John /. Carty, Chief Engineer at American Telephone and Telegraph; and Henry M. Howe, Professor of Metallurgy at Columbia University, did little to resolve a long-standing dilemma, namely, a place in the Academy for the applied sciences. At its founding, military and naval engineers prominent in the science or art of engineering had comprised almost a fifth of the incorporators, and during the Civil War years more engineers were added. But few were elected thereafter, and their numbers steadily declined. By ~ 9 ~ ~ Henry L. Abbot, who had been elected in 8, was the sole remain- ing representative of the Corps of Engineers. Despite the rise of industrial engineering late in the previous century, rarely had any of its representatives been elected to the Academy, and the Physics and Engineering Section became some- thing of a misnomer. The Council, which had been slow to resolve the problem, was pressed by Hale, who saw the election of industrial engineers as imperative to his plans for the Academy. In ~9~5 the Council recommended changing the Section of Physics and Engineer- ing to physics only, and a year later began planning a separate section of engineering. With the Engineering Division in the wartime Na- tional Research Council as something of a precedent, the new section in the Academy was formally established with nine members in ~9~9. Its chairman was Henry Abbot. membership ("Minutes of the Academy," April ~899, p. 576; April ~906, p. ~26; April Dog, p. 34; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1915, pp. 27-28). NAS, Annual Report for 1917, p. 20. For subsequent recipients, see medalists of the National Academy in the Academy's Annual Reports. See also Paul Brockett, "National Academy of Sciences Medal Awards," Sc'~ntif ic Monthly 59:428 (December ~ 944). ~2 Henry L. Abbot to Arthur L. Day, December 28, ~9~2 (Carnegie Institution of Washington and California Institute of Technology, George Ellery Hale Papers: Microfilm Edison, ~968, Roll 26, Frames ~89-~9~). ~, "Minutes of the Council," November ~9~5, p. ~68; correspondence in NAS Archives: NAS: Sections: Engineering; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1916, pp. 23-24, 30; "Minutes of the Council," December ~ 9, ~ 9 ~ 7, p. 339/4; November 9, ~ 9 ~ 9, p. 474; NAS, Annual Report for 1919, p. 32. For a later note on why "many of the most able engineers of the country [would] never be included in the membership of the Academy," see NRC Office Memorandum 470, February I, ~938 (NAS Archives: E&JR: Reorganization of Division, ~938).
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208 / WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (~9~3—~9~7) The war in Europe had pushed everything else into the background. As the year ~9~4 ended, the German armies and the French and English forces opposing them stretched in an arc of improvised trenches from the Belgian coast to the border of Switzer- land, destined to be fixed there in deadlock for almost four years. The initial shock and the depression of spirits in this country had been alleviated by President Wilson's affirmation on August ~8 of a policy of strict neutrality. As the months passed and the battlefront stabilized, the first arms orders for resupply of the Allied armies began to arrive in the United States. Less than a year later American shipping plying the Atlantic confronted the menace of the recently developed German U-boat. When in May ~9~5 the British passenger linerLusitania, carrying a cargo of munitions, was sunk with heavy loss of lives, including a number of American citizens, the entry of the United States into the war seemed only a matter of time. In July ~9~5, George Ellery Hale wired Welch, then on his way to the Orient, "The Academy is under strong obligation to offer fits] services to the President in the event of war with . . . Germany," and asked Welch to learn the opinion of the Academy Council.'4 Welch continued to temporize after his return home in December, but when in the following spring the Essex was torpedoed and the Sussex sunk with the loss of American lives and cargoes, an aroused Hale acted. Upon his reelection as Foreign Secretary at the meeting on April ~9, ~9~6, Hale obtained Council and Academy assent to seek the cooperation of the engineering societies "in the work of the academy for the national welfare." With that, he presented a resolution to the Council urging that the President of the Academy be requested to inform the President of the United States that, in the event of a break in diplomatic relations with any other country, the Academy desires to place itself at the disposal of the Government for any services within its scope. The resolution carried, and, upon its unanimous approval by the Academy members present, Hale asked "that the Council be empow- ered to organize the Academy for the purpose of carrying out the resolution...." Later that day, at another meeting of the Council, id Telegram, July ~3, ~9~5 (Hale Microfilm, Roll 36, Frame 873); Hale to William H. Welch, July 3, ~9~5, and Welch to Hale, July ~4, ~9~5 (NAS Archives: ORG: NAS: Com on Organizing NRC); Helen Wright, Explorer of the Universe: A Biography of George Ellery Hale (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., ~966), pp. 286-287.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / 209 Edwin G. Conklin requested, and President Welch agreed, to appoint a committee to wait upon the President.~5 On April z6, ~9~6, Welch, Hale, Walcott, Conklin, and Robert S. Woodward met with President Wilson at the White House. Hearing "in a general way methods and directions in which the Academy might be of service under the circumstances," the President suggested the formation at once of a committee "to undertake such work as the Academy might propose," but asked that his oral approval not be publicized. Upon Hale's appeal to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, the President's interdiction was subsequently withdrawn. Organization and Staffing of the National Research Council By June Hale and his Committee on the Organization of the Scientific Resources of the Country for National Service, comprising Conklin, Simon Flexner, Robert A. Millikan, and Arthur A. Noyes, had a plan that was to be accomplished through the formation by the Council of the Academy of a National Research Council, the purpose of which shall be to bring into co-operation existing governmental, educational, industrial and other re- search organizations with the object of encouraging the investigation of natural phenomena, the increased use of scientific research in the develop- ment of American industries, the employment of scientific methods in strengthening the national defense, and such other applications of science as will promote the national security and welfare. The members of the National Research Council (NRC) Hale had first called it the National Research Foundation were to comprise the "leading American investigators and engineers, representing Army, Navy, Smithsonian Institution, and various scientific bureaus of the Government, educational institutions and research endowments, and the research divisions of industrial and manufacturing establish- ments."~7 The approval of the plan, when presented to the Academy ~~ Minutes ot the (Jouncil," April ~ 9 ~ 6, p. ~ 75; "Minutes of the Academy," April ~ 9 ~ 6, pp. 203, 206; "Minutes of the Council," April ~9~6, p. 2 ~ i; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1916, pp. ~2, 22; correspondence in NAS Archives: ORG: NAS: Com on Organizing NRC. ~6 Reported in "Minutes of the Council," June ~ 9 ~ 6, pp. 2 ~ 7-2 20. ~7 "Minutes of the Council,"June ~9~6, pp. 222-227; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1916, p. 32; Hale, "The National Research Council," Science 44:26~266 (August 25, ~9~6). (Continued overleap
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210 / WILLIAM HENRY WELCH (~9~3—~9~) George Ellery Hale, Chairman of the National Research Council, ~9~6-~9~9, with the Foucault pendulum in the Great Hall of the Academy games Stokley photograph, courtesy Science Service). Council on June ~9, marked the inception of the National Research Council. ~8 The "explicit purposes" of the Research Council, as carefully That Hale had in mind the Royal Institution and its relationship with the Royal Society in planning the Research Council is affirmed in The Autobiography of Robert A. Millikan (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950), pp. ~32-~34. 's President Welch in his introductory essay to the annual Reportfor 1916—resuming a
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 1 23 ~ curiosity) in quantities sufficient for dirigibles, and of optical glass, until then available only from Germany.74 The innovations of World War I were the airplane, the tank, the machine gun, the weapons carrier, and poison gas, the last of which Augustus Trowbridge, Princeton physicist, included among the most important of the applications of pure science which were a wholly new product of land warfare...: the use of cloud and shell gas, the extremely brilliant application of chemistry in the construction of gas-masks, airplane photography, the scientific aids to accuracy in gunnery and bombing from airplanes, sound-ranging, searchlight and listening devices for anti- aircraft defense, directional wireless, and camouflage.75 Participating American scientists saw many of these products of research put into production and in many instances made available to the forces in the field. Some of them had great significance for the postwar years. Such, for example, were the advances made in high-grade optical glass for military instruments; the impact on the chemical industry of the large-scale nitrogen-fixation plants designed for the production of nitric acid; and the new chemistry devised for the Chemical Warfare Service through the joint research of physical, biological, organic, and analytical chemists. The brief wartime association of American, British, and French geographers and geologists; metallurgists; com- munication and radio engineers; and sanitary engineers had far- reaching benefits. So, too, did the approach to the problems of food supply and nutrition, recognized as never before as both national and world concerns.76 74 Millikan in Yerkes, The New World of Science, pp. 46-48, and The Autobiography of Robert A. Millikan, pp. ~79-~80; I. Bernard Cohen, "American Physicists at War: From the First World War to ~g42,"American/ournal of Physics 13:337-338 (~945). Millikan and the Research Council were plagued by one major frustration. This was the time spent on a centrifugal gun, the design for which was submitted to the War Department and turned over to the NRC Divisions of Physics and Engineering late in ~ 9 ~ 7. The gun, proposed by E. L. Rice, was designed to use the engine power of combat planes to fire a charge of loo half-inch steel balls before recharging for another burst. Both the engineering of the gun and the negotiations with Rice and the government, lasting three years, proved beyond resolution (NAS, Annual Reportfor 1918, pp. 78, 99; NAS Archives: PS: Projects: Centrifugal Gun). 7S Yerkes, The New World of Science, p. 65; D. 1. Kevles, "Flash and Sound in the AEF; The History of a Technical Service," Military Affairs XXXIII: 37~383 (~969). 76 Harrison E. Howe in Yerkes, The New World of Science, pp. dog 95.; A. A. Noyes, ibid., pp. ~30- ~33; Clarence J. West, ibid., pp. ~73- ~74.
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232 / CHARLES DOOLITTLE WALCOTT (1917 - 1923) Without precedent in medical experience was the gas war in France. Begun by German troops in April 1915 to break the deadlock of trench warfare, the use first of chlorine, then the lethal phosgenes, and, in July ~9~7, incapacitating mustard gas, all proved exceedingly effective—but in no instance as decisive as anticipated. Although the war gases produced far fewer fatalities than other weapons, they accounted for more than a quarter of the battle casualties among American forces.77 A Committee on Noxious Gases, set up within the NRC in April ~9~7, supported the Bureau of Mines in its request for appropriations for research on both the defensive and offensive aspects of gas warfare. The resulting work, in a laboratory the Bureau established at American University in Washington, as well as in a number of universities and medical institutions, was transferred to the newly created Army Chemical Warfare Service in June ~9~8.78 The high incidence of "war neurosis" and shell shock, of trench foot and trench mouth, gas gangrene, pneumonia, and, above all, epidemic and pandemic influenza taxed the medical services in France as well as the medical research institutions at home. The estimate that the respiratory diseases accounted for 8z percent of all Army deaths caused by disease suggested promising directions for future research.79 A related field of medicine was the application of psychology to war problems. Viewed at the time with considerable suspicion by the military, it won acceptance in the Medical Department of the Army through the intercession of Col. V. C. Vaughan, Col. William Welch, and Sur. Gen. William C. Gorgas. A group under Robert M. Yerkes, pioneer in the use of intelligence tests, began to work out methods of psychological testing that would be specifically applicable to the armed forces. The group developed first the famous alpha and beta tests for literates and illiterates and demonstrated for the first time on a large scale what appeared to be remarkable differences in intelligence among various army groups. The Research Council team then went on to consider the psychologi- 77 Frederick F. Russell in Yerkes, The New World of Science, p. 286. 78 NAS Archives: Com on Noxious Gases (later, Com on Gases Used in Warfare); Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, p. 3zo. The Chemical Warfare Service administered the Bureau's research work as well as the Gas Service in France, which was organized on Gen. John I. Pershing's orders in September ~9 ~ 7. 79 Russell in Yerkes, The New World of Science, pp. 386, Rio; Victor C. Vaughan, ibid., p. 33~.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 1 233 cat problems of aviation. It developed batteries of special aptitude tests, made studies of problems of vision, of military training and discipline, of shell shock reeducation, and of methods of influencing enemy morale.~° Like that in every other divisor of the Research Council, the work of the psychologists had scarcely more than begun when the war ended. The end of the war found American industry with a vastly ex- panded capacity for production, and American science, as repre- sented by the Academy-Research Council, with an enormous re- search program still for the most part in its early stages; and in the case of basic science, to Hale's dismay, with relatively little even attempted. However, neither science nor industry had any intention of losing the momentum that had been generated. From the beginning, Hale had seen the Research Council not just as a temporary organization for a national emergency but as the vehicle for realizing "the future of the National Academy" he had projected in ~9~3. At the meeting of the Academy committee with Woodrow Wilson in April ~ 9 ~ 6, the President, he said, had "emphasized the fact that the chief national advantage of such cooperation and coordina- tion fas the Research Council proposed] would come after the war, and that its most lasting effect would be seen in scientific and industrial progress." Postwar Plans The Research Council had been launched less than a year when in August ~ 9 ~ 7 Hale wrote Millikan, "I am now at work on a plan for the permanent organization of the Research Council."82 In a statement, "The Future of the National Research Council," in the Academy's Annual Report that year, he announced: The results already accomplished by the National Research Council and the increasing requests for its assistance seem to leave no doubt as to the need for a centralizing body of this character.... The organization of the research 80 Yerkes, The New World of Science, pp. 35 ~-354; D. I. Kevles, "Testing the Army's Intelligence: Psychologists and the Military in World War I," Journal of American History 55 :565-581 ( ~ 968). 8~ This statement appears in NAS, Annual Reportfor 1917, p. 46. So Hale had said in his letter to the New York Times in July ~9~6 (NRC, Miscellaneous Papers): "The work of the research council will . . . relate to public welfare in time of peace even more truly than to national security in the event of war." Cf. p. 223 in this chapter. 82 Hale to Millikan, August SO, ~9~7 (NAS Archives: EX Com: General).
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234 / CHARLES DOOLITTLE WALCOTT (~9~7—~9~3) council under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences is undoubt- edly sound. It provides the necessary connection with the Government and eliminates all political influence from the appointment of its members. . . . The wide-spread cooperation already secured and the experience gained in connection with the war will afford a useful guide for the develop- ment of a sound and effective plan. Hale's "Plan for the Promotion of Scientific and Industrial Re- search by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Re- search Council," which he was proposing for the postwar period, emerged in the fall of aged. The fifty-four-page prospectus was first presented to the trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, from whom he sought the building and endowment the program would require, then laid before the Council of the Academy at its meeting, to which Millikan was invited, on December ~9, ~9~7. It called for a Research Council organized in divisions and staffed by members of scientific and technical societies, heads of scientific bureaus of the government, and members at large, all formally appointed by the Academy to the Research Council. Stressing that the chief advantage of the wartime cooperation of government, educa- tional, and industrial research agencies would come after the war, and that since ~9~4 every Allied nation had created new research organi- zations similar to the Research Council, Hale described the current wide-ranging operations of the Research Council and, based on that experience, the future opportunities of the Academy and Council. The realization of the opportunities that he described at length would require an appropriate building and staff, a clearinghouse for scien- tific and technical information, and support for a projected Interna- tional Research Council to promote worldwide cooperation in scien- tific and industrial research.84 Even with the assent of the Council of the Academy, Hale was well aware that the plan was not enough, that the Research Council 8` NAS, Annual Report for 1917, p. 69. The clause, "It provides the necessary connection with the Government," was changed a year later by Hale to read "It would serve a useful purpose to perpetuate the National Research Council and thus be permanently assured of the cooperation of the various Departments of the Government" (NAS, Annual Reportfor 1918, p. 4o). And with the Research Council launched, he wrote, "We shall continue our contacts with the Government" (NAS, Annual Report for 1919, p. 65). 84 First presented in "Minutes of the Council," November ~9, ~9~7, p. 320, the complete prospectus appears in "Minutes of the Council," December ~ 9, ~ 9 ~ 7, pp. 339/6, ~ o, 2 7, passim.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 1 235 required a stronger foundation than the endorsement of President Wilson's letter of July ~9~6 and recognition by the Council of Na- tional Defense. On March s6, ~9~8, Hale addressed a letter to the White House requesting the President to "issue an Executive Order, defining and authorizing the specific duties of the National Research Council, for the purpose of summarizing and giving added effect to previous orders and requests underlying the work of the Council." He enclosed with the letter a suggested draft of the order he sought and docu- ments supporting his contention that the Research Council was "in effect a federation of the research agencies of the Nation" and that there were precedents for it in similar councils abroad.85 In full sympathy with Hale's request, yet mindful of objections of the Council of National Defense, which he had consulted,86 President Wilson in reply expressed some concern about "just exactly what it is that you shave] in mind." At his suggestion Hale accepted revision of the draft to remove any possible implication that the Research Coun- cil sought a supervisory role in the work of the scientific bureaus of the government. And in acknowledgment of the Academy's private status, he changed the phrase "The National Academy of Sciences is . . . directed to perpetuate the National Research Council . . ." to read ". . . requested to perpetuate the National Research Council...."87 The Executive Order of 1918 . Accordingly, in the President's Executive Order, dated May ~ I, ~ 9 ~ 8, the National Academy of Sciences was "requested to perpetuate the National Research Council," whose functions would be 85 Hale to President Wilson, March 26, ~9~8, and enclosures (copies in NAS Archives: EXEC: Executive Orders & Directives: EO ~859: NRC). As Hale explained his action: ". . . as the work of the Research Council progressed, it became evident that a definite formulation of its objects by the President, and an expression of his desire that it be perpetuated by the Academy and permanently assured of the cooperation of the various departments of the Government, would serve a useful purpose" (NAS, Annual Report for 1918, p. 40). 86 "Minutes of Meeting, CND," April ~ 5, ~ 9 ~ 8 (L/C, Josephus Daniels MSS, Box 45 ~ ), cited in Daniel l. Kevles, "George Ellery Hale, the First World War, and the Advance- ment of Science in America," Isis 59:433_434 (Winter ~968); Wright, Explorer of the Universe, pp. 296-297. 87 Wilson to Hale, April ~ 9, ~ 9 ~ 8, in "Minutes of the Council," April 2 I, ~ 9 ~ 8, pp. 348 - 35~; documents of January—May ~9~8 in NAS Archives: EXEC . . . EO z859: NRC. (Canned overleaf)
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236 / CHARLES DOOLITTLE WALCOTT (1917—1923) To stimulate research in the mathematical, physical, and biological sciences, and in the application of these sciences to engineering, agriculture, medicine, and other useful arts. To survey the larger possibilities of science, to formulate comprehensive projects of research, and to develop effective means of utilizing the scientific and technical resources of the country.... To promote cooperation in research, at home and abroad.... To serve as a means of bringing American and foreign investigators into active cooperation with the scientific and technical services of the War and Navy Departments and with those of the civil branches of the Government. To direct the attention of scientific and technical investigators to the present importance of military and industrial problems in connection with the war.... [and] To gather and collate scientific and technical information at home and abroad, in cooperation with governmental and other agencies.... The concluding paragraph of the President's Order offered "the cordial collaboration of the scientific and technical branches of the Government, both military and civil." Their representatives, upon the nomination of the Academy, would be designated by the President as members of the Council "as heretofore, and the heads of the depart- ments immediately concerned will continue to cooperate in every way that may be required." "The Order," Hale wrote President Wilson of the advance copy he received, "is entirely satisfactory to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council."89 In the Annual Report that year he spoke of it "as supplementing . . . the charter of the Academy." Millikan said that he, Walcott, Noyes, Merriam, Carty, and Dunn helped with the formulation of the order that made the Research Council "a permanent subcommittee of the Academy and operating under its congressional charter" (The Autobiography of Robert A. Millikan, pp. ~84-~85). 88 It was this clause apparently that led Willoughby in Government Organization in War Time and After (p. 25) to say that as a consequence of the Order, the Research Council "had its function as an organization for coordinating the scientific work of the Government more distinctly emphasized." Indeed, in an early draft of the Order this paragraph had read: "To serve as a correlating and centralizing agency for the research work of the Government." 89 Hale to Wilson, May lo, ~9~8 (NAS Archives: EXEC . . . EO 2859: NRC); NAS, Annual Report for 1918, pp. 40-4 ~ . At the meeting that November, Walcott formally presented the President's Executive Order to the Academy ("Minutes of the Council," November ~ 7, ~ 9 ~ 8, p. 407). For the Executive Order, see Appendix F. It remained unchanged until ~956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower revised the Order, principally to remove minor anachronisms in its text and to transfer the designation of government members in the Research Council from the President of the
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / 237 The Carnegie Corporation Grant Nine days after issuance of the Executive Order, Hale, accompanied by Carty, Millikan, and Walcott, appeared before the Board of the Carnegie Corporation to discuss support for the now permanent Research Council. Although the Board deferred consideration of an endowment or a building fund, a grant of $~oo,ooo was immediately made for operating expenses. The President of the Board, Elihu Root, saw, as Hale did, the coming revolution in industry after the war and in industrial research the principal means for meeting "the international competitions of peace." As Root said, . . . the same power of science which has so amazingly increased the produc- tive capacity of mankind during the past century will be applied again, and the prizes of industrial and commercial leadership will fall to the nation which organizes its scientific forces most effectively.90 Less than a year later, in March ~9~9, the single most significant event since the founding of the Academy occurred, when the Board of the Carnegie Corporation voted a gift of $5 million to be placed at the disposal of the National Academy-of Sciences, for the purposes of the Academy and the National Research Council.... A part of this sum . . . shall be devoted to the erection of a building suitable for the needs of the Academy and the Research Council, but the greater part of the sum . . . shall constitute a permanent endowment in the hands of the Academy for the purposes of the Research Council. As a condition precedent to the appropriation . . . for building purposes, a suitable site shall be provided from other sources. . . . such portion of the $s,ooo,ooo remaining [after the building is paid for and ready for use shall be] for the gradual development and permanent support of the work of the Research Council....9t United States to the heads of departments (NAS Archives: EXEC . . . EO ~o668: Revision of EO 2859 re NRC: ~955-~956). For the revised Executive Order, see Appendix F. 90 Secretary, Carnegie Corporation, to Hale, June 7, ~9~8 (NAS Archives: FINANCE: Funds: Grants: Carnegie Corp of NY: Building & Endowment Fund); NAS, Annual Report for 1918, pp. 60-6~. See Elihu Root, "Industrial Research and National Wel- fare," Science 48 :532-534 ( ~ 9 ~ 8). Millikan described Root in retrospect as "the most potent mind that was behind all our activity . . . the navigator of the ship" launched by the Academy [Millikan to Lewis Strauss, May 3, ~945 (NAS Archives: Hewett file 50.82 . . . RBNS); The Autobiography of Robert A. M~ll~kan, pp. ~34, ~48]. 9~ Resolution of March 28, ~9~9, attached to letter, Secretary of the Carnegie Corpora- tion to President Walcott, June At, ~9~9 (NAS Archives: FINANCE: Funds: Grants: Carnegie Corp of NY: Building & Endowment Fund). For a modification of the resolution in ~924, see Chapter lo, pp. 287-288.
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238 / CHARLES DOOLITTLE WALCOTT (1917—1923) National Research Fellowships The Rockefeller Foundation was also aware of the pivotal position science would hold in the postwar order. A letter from George E. Vincent, President of the Foundation, to Robert A. Millikan on February 5, 1918, had provided additional impetus for action on the Executive Order. Vincent wrote that the establishment and endowment of a research institute for physics and chemistry, similar to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, had been suggested to the Foundation to meet the industrial competition of Europe after the war. Industry could be relied upon to provide the practical research, but only an endowed institution could undertake the necessary basic research: An institution . . . devoted to pure research, unhampered by obligations to teach and uninfluenced by commercial considerations is needed for leader- ship in American progress in the physical sciences.... and he asked: Is the National Research Council, which has been created out of the war emergency, likely to take permanent form? Is the Federal Government in a position to create a separate institution on the analogy of certain research units in the Department of Agriculture and in the Geological Survey? Is the Bureau of Standards capable of extension into a national research Institu- tion?92 Millikan was strongly opposed to a centralized research institute and believed that the long-term benefits would be greater if the funds were spent for training in existing institutions. This was the proposal he presented to the group of sixteen scientists that was convened to consider Vincent's plan. Following considerable discussion, it was agreed that a program of postdoctoral research fellowships for young Ph.D.'s was preferable to the "institute" scheme. In addition to the obvious benefits to the fellows, their presence in the universities would have an equally salutary effect on the research atmosphere of the schools.93 In March ~9~9, the Academy and Research Council submitted to the Rockefeller Foundation a formal proposal for a "project for 92 George F. Vincent to Millikan, February 5, ~9~8 (NAS Archives: FELLOWSHIPS: Re- search Fellowship Board: Physics & Chemistry: Beginning of Program). 95 M. .1. Rand, "The National Research Fellowships," The Scientific Monthly 73:71-80 (August ~95~).
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council / 23g promoting fundamental research in physics and chemistry in educa- tional institutions in the United States," which would establish post- doctoral fellowships supported by foundation funds and awarded by the Research Council. Vincent's query as to the most appropriate organization to oversee the program had been effectively answered in the meantime by the Executive Order.94 On April 9, ~9~9, the Rockefeller Foundation approved an ap- propriation of $so,ooo for the first year's operations and pledged $500,000 for fellowships for the first five years. In anticipation, the Research Council had set up a Research Fellowship Board, headed by Simon Flexner of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, with Hale, Millikan, and Noyes among its members, to administer the funds. The National Research Fellowships, administered by the NRC over the next thirty years, were possibly the single most enduring and intrinsically important program to come out of the wartime Research Council.95 International Research Council A second far-reaching proposal was made by Hale as Foreign Secre- tary of the Academy and leader of the six Academy delegates to the Inter-Allied Conference on International Scientific Organizations in October ~9~8.96 Since June, when the Royal Society called the Con- ference, he had been working on a plan that would satisfy the immediate needs of the Allies for effective cooperation during the war. Hale hoped it would also serve the postwar needs of the entire scientific community for a cooperative mechanism to replace the 94 Walcott and Hale to Vincent, March 22, 1919 (NAS Archives: FELLOWSHIPS: Research Fellowship Board: Physics & Chemistry: Beginning of Program). 95 Rand, "The National Research Fellowships," p. 73. The question of more and better training of men for research, raised by Noyes and Stratton at the first meeting of the NRC in September ~9~6, had resulted a month later in action by the Research Council to persuade colleges and universities to establish research fellowships with stipends of at least a thousand dollars for training beyond the doctoral degree [Hale to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, November ~8, ~9~6, p. 8 (NAS Archives: FELLOWSHIPS); The Autobiography of Robert A. MilliMn, pp. ~80-~84, ~89]. On Hale's earlier plan for university-supported fellowships, see NAS, Proceed- ings 3 :223-227 ( ~ 9 ~ 7). 96 This had been preceded, upon America's entry into the war, by Hale's messages to the academies of the Allied countries offering Academy-Research Council cooperation in research for the solution of military or industrial problems ("Minutes of the Council," April ~ 6, ~ 9 ~ 7, pp. z73-274; NAS, Annual Report for 1917, pp. ~ 8- ~ 9).
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240 / CHARLES DOOLITTLE WALCOTT (1917 - 1923) German-dominated International Association of Academies, which had been crippled by the war and the deep animosities generated by the war and therefore could never be expected to resume its former functions. Hale's proposal, adopted unanimously, called for the crea- tion of an International Research Council, a federation of the national research councils, or similar bodies, of the Allied nations. As hostilities ended, the membership could be extended "indefinitely" to include other countries. On November s6, ~9~8, at the second Inter-Allied Conference in Paris, the International Research Council was provi- sionally organized, with plans to take over at a later date the work of the international agencies on solar research, astronomy, and geo- physics set up before the war.97 Interallied exchange of scientific data during the war was effected through the Research Information Service, now a major unit of the NRC, with its scientific attaches in London, Paris, and Rome. Hale saw that they too would have important functions in his postwar plans: Properly regarded the wrote], this Information Service may be considered as the pioneer corps of the Council, surveying the progress of research in various parts of the world, selecting and reporting upon many activities of interest and importance, reducing the information thus collected to such a form as to render it most accessible and useful, and disseminating it to scientific and technical men and to institutions which can use it to advan- tage.... It therefore goes without saying that the position of scientific attache at our principal embassies . . . should undoubtedly be continued in times of peace . . . [to] serve as the general representative of American scientific and technical interests in the country to which he may be accredited; attend scientific meetings and keep in touch with the progress of research, reporting frequently to Washington; maintain his office as a center for American scientific and technical men and missions desiring to maintain contact with the scientific men or institutions of the country; undertake special tasks and make particular reports on questions submitted by properly accredited indi- viduals or institutions; and contribute in other ways toward international cooperation in research.98 97 "Minutes of the Council," December ~9~8, pp. 420-423; NAS, Annual Reportfor 1918, pp. 50-58; Hale in Yerkes, The New World of Science, pp. 405-4~6; NAS Archives: FR: IRC: Beginning of Program: ~9~9; Daniel j. Kevles, "'Into Hostile Political Camps': The Reorganization of International Science in World War I," Isis 62:47-60 (Spring 1971). For Hale's initial proposal for an "international organization of science and re- search," see "Minutes of the Council," December ~9~7, pp. 339/35-38; April ~9~8, pp. 353-360. 98 NAS, Annual Report for 1918, pp. 4 I, 42-43.
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World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council 1 24 ~ The government, which had adopted the work of the Research Information Service during the war and accredited the attaches to the Allied governments, lost interest in their possibilities after the war, and the Service's foreign offices were closed. It was not until the "Berkner Report" in the aftermath of World War II that their functions were resumed.99 When America entered the war in April ~9~', military strategists were convinced that the stalemate that had frozen the battleline across Europe with little change in over two and a half years would continue through ~9~9, until American aid and arms could shift the balance, and that the war would end in Ago. By late October ~9~8, however, the Germans were unable to withstand the pressure of the Allied forces, increased by hundreds of thousands of fresh American troops. On November I, the German armies, inflicting high casualties, began their long-planned Kriegsmarsch, the withdrawal to shorten their front that would take them to the previously constructed Antwerp-Meuse line, where they intended to hold through the winter. Ten days later, in the fifty-second month of the war, as French and American troops crossed the Meuse, Germany asked for an armistice.~°° Amid week-long celebrations in the United States, the war pro- grams of the Academy-Research Council began to wind down. But not the invincible Hale and his plans for the future. He was a frail man with an iron spirit, and, as he saw it, the war had prepared the way for the continuing promotion of research. His vision of the Research Council, representing the government, the major research agencies in the country, and the chief national scientific, technical, and engineering societies joined in the years ahead in a collective assault on scientific problems, was contagious. "We have only begun a task of unlimited possibilities," he said.~°~ 99 For the "Berkner Report," see Chapter is, pp. so-so I. "Report of General Pershing," War Department, Annual Report for 1918, p. 82. 01 NAS Annual Reportfor 1918, p. 98
Representative terms from entire chapter: