Providing Scientific Knowledge to Solve Public Problems: National Research Council: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1917

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



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In 1863, Congress chartered the National Academy of Sciences as a means by which the government could obtain the advice of scientists about matters of national interest, particularly relating to the country’s needs in time of war. After the Civil War, however, the Academy became relatively inactive, as the government rarely sought its services. In 1913, George Ellery Hale, renowned astronomer and foreign secretary of the Academy, proposed sweeping reforms to make the Academy more relevant to social and government needs. In a reorganization intended to strengthen its capacity for scientific coordination and research, the Academy created the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC found early financial support for its work in the Engineering Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation (its largest supporter during the First World War), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the federal government. The NRC is now the primary source, for Congress and agencies of the Executive Branch, of objective scientific assessments of major problems facing the American public.



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