Record Unit 7091 contains: correspondence and telegrams; drafts and final versions of articles, books, and radio scripts; staff notes and interoffice correspondence; published material such as pamphlets and news clippings; photographs and drawings; advertisements and trade literature; and other ephemera related to science news coverage and publishing.
This record unit is one of the largest single collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). There are several related collections in SIA (see Accessions 01-122, 01-243, 04-042, 90-068, 90-105, 93-019, and 97-020 (see also the National Air and Space Museum; the National Museum of American History, including the Archives Center and collections in agriculture and mining, chemistry, costume, engineering, electricity, medical sciences, military history, modern physics, and photographic history; the National Museum of Natural History; and the National Portrait Gallery).
The arrangement of RU 7091 reflects the eclectic nature of an active news organization that was reactive to current events and discoveries, in touch with a worldwide network of researchers, and concerned about accuracy. In 1960, the organization's educational director described their records in this way: "... Science Service has been distributing science news for 40 years. During that time we have been in touch with practically all the major scientists and the developments which were taking place. Since all of our material has to have full authentification, we have built up a mass of files" (Letter from Frederick A. Indorf to Joseph C. Shipman, October 24, 1960, Box 350, Folder 13). This "mass of files" also included two extensive "morgues" that contained back-up material, information, and photographs that could be used in future stories. The informational "morgue" files were organized according to the Library of Congress classification scheme. A few of these files are in RU 7091 (see Series 7); more extensive collections are located in SIA Accessions 01-122, 01-243, 90-068, 90-105, and 93-019 and in curatorial collections in Smithsonian Institution museums. A major portion of the biographical "morgue," containing photographs and information about scientists, engineers, and other public figures, is in SIA Accession 90-105.
Editorial correspondence with news sources was usually filed in the general correspondence files of Series 1 - 5. Some was also filed with the resulting story for the
Daily Mail Report
(see Series 8) or with other back-up in a morgue file. Correspondence with scientists and engineers who appeared on the Science Service radio programs may also be found in the radio program files (see Series 10). Audiotapes of some broadcasts are in Series 20, SIA Accession 04-042, and in the NMAH Archives Center collection (Call # ACNNMAH0223).
Most folders in RU 7091 retain the original folder's title. This finding aid uses edited descriptions and additional notes to assist researchers in navigating through the record unit. Most correspondence was filed by the date and the last name of correspondent, but documents were sometimes filed alphabetically according to a topic or by the name of an individual's affiliation.
The topics covered in RU 7091 include all fields of science and engineering, theoretical physics to bridge construction techniques, wildlife conservation to plastics and paints. There is considerable attention to social and economic issues and to military research and censorship during World War II. The staff visited museums, observatories, industrial test facilities, and military installations; they reported on most of the major scientific events of the time, including the Scopes trial. During the 1930s and 1940s, Science Service purchased news and photographs from official U.S.S.R. news offices and also supported efforts to interact with Soviet scientists. There were attempts to establish branch operations in England and France and to encourage science popularization and education in Mexico.
Correspondents include trustees, news sources, publishers, writers, and business clients. Most inquiries from readers or listeners were answered and filed with regular editorial correspondence. "Taffy" is the term Science Service used for complimentary correspondence; it is often filed separately. Series 5 also contains manuscripts and letters from scientists and non-scientists who were convinced they had discovered, proved, or understood a new scientific principle or insight - or else could save humanity from foreseeable destruction.
Frequent correspondents among the trustees included: C. G. Abbot, Edward U. Condon, Rene J. Dubos, Frank R. Ford, George Ellery Hale, Ross G. Harrison, Harrison E. Howe, W. H. Howell, Vernon Kellogg, Karl Lark-Horovitz, D. T. MacDougal, Kirtley F. Mather, John C. Merriam, Robert A. Millikan, Raymond Pearl, Marlen E. Pew, Michael I. Pupin, I. I. Rabi, Charles Edward Scripps, Robert P. Scripps, Paul B. Sears, Thomas L. Sidlo, Harry L. Smithton, Mark Sullivan, Warren S. Thompson, Henry B. Ward, Alexander Wetmore, David White, William Allen White, and Robert M. Yerkes.
Other notable writers, scientists, and public figures include: William Beebe, Hans A. Bethe, Charles Bittinger, Howard W. Blakeslee, Edwin G. Boring, Bart J. Bok, Gregory and Marjorie Breit, P. W. Bridgman, Wilfred Swancourt Bronson, Rachel Carson, George Washington Carver, Morris L. Cooke, Clarence Darrow, Frances Densmore, Thomas A. Edison, Enrico Fermi, Henry Field, George Gamow, Eugene Garfield, Robert H. Goddard, Peter C. Goldmark, Hamilton Holt, J. Edgar Hoover, Julian S. Huxley, Louis M. Lyons, Margaret Mead, Merrill Moore, Edward R. Murrow, H. H. Nininger, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Gifford Pinchot, James A. Reyniers, J. B. Rhine, Walter Orr Roberts, M. Lincoln Schuster, John T. Scopes, Glenn T. Seaborg, Gilbert Seldes, Elizabeth Sidney Semmens, Upton Sinclair, Otto Struve, Elihu Thomson, Harold C. Urey, Mark Van Doren, Selman A. Waksman, Henry A. Wallace, Warren Weaver, H. G. Wells, and Gaylord Wilshire.
RU 7091 contains extensive records of the transactions with temporary correspondents and photographers, notes on the article titles and amounts paid, as well as correspondence discussing particular scientific events and, during the 1930s and 1940s, the situation in Europe. Among the active European correspondents were Maxim Bing in Switzerland, Victor Cofman in England, and Theodor G. Ahrens, Hans F. Kutschbach, and Gabrielle Rabel in Germany.
Researchers interested in the history of American publishing, journalism, advertising, and public relations will find extensive correspondence with professionals in those fields. Newspaper Enterprise Association, or "NEA Service," was a news syndicate established by the Scripps organization in 1909, to which Science Service sold articles and feature series. They also marketed articles and photographs to publications like
. There is considerable correspondence with the editors about topic selection and why particular stories were rejected.
Science Service staff used special abbreviations in their interoffice correspondence. Starting in the 1930s, small name and date stamps were also used to record or acknowledge all correspondence and notes. Abbreviations were written in all capital letters as well as in initial cap form (e.g., Watson Davis was "WD" as well as Wd"). Here is a partial list of abbreviations that appear frequently in RU 7091:
ACM = A. C. Monahan
An = Anne Shiveley, secretary to Watson Davis
Ba = Howard Bandy, treasurer
Be = Miriam Bender, office staff
DGL = Donald G. Loomis, assistant treasurer
Do = Dorothy Reynolds, secretary to Watson Davis
Ed = Emily C. Davis (sometimes written as "ECD")
En = Leonard Engel
Ew = Ann Ewing
Fa = Bob Farr
FD = Fremont Davis
Fl = Margaret Fleming
Fr = Violet Frye
Gi = Minna Gill, librarian
Hd = Helen Miles Davis
Hj = Hallie Jenkins, sales manager
Ho = Janet Howard
HW = Howard Wheeler, business manager
JWY = J. W. Young
Js = James Stokley
Kl = Fred Kline, list room
Kr = Joseph Kraus, science youth programs
Md = Marjorie MacDill (Breit); in 1928, Jane Stafford became the medical editor and used these initials from 1928-1936
Mg = Mary McGrath, secretary to Watson Davis
Ml = Bernice Maldondo
Mm = Martha G. Morrow
Mn = Minna Hewes
Mo = Morton Mott-Smith
Ot = Frances Ottemiller
Pd = Phillippa Duckworth, secretary to E. E. Slosson
Ps = Page Secrest
Pt = Robert Potter
Ri = William E. Ritter
RLI = Ronald L. Ives, photograph editor
RNF = Robert N. Farr
Ro = Ron Ross
Sl = E. E. Slosson
St = Jane Stafford, after 1936
Th = Frank Thone
Vn = Marjorie Van de Water
Wd = Watson Davis
We = Margaret Weil
Wi = Austin Winant
Interoffice correspondence in the 1920s also used these abbreviations: Bk = bookkeeper; Cr = circulation; Fl = File; Lb = library or library files; Mr = mailroom; Rt = retail files; Sa = sales department; Tp = typing department; Wb = wastebasket.