Science Service, Up Close: Honors and Honorees

From Nobel Prize medals to the beribboned gold disks handed to famous athletes, the Smithsonian Institution storage rooms contain many of the physical artifacts bestowed upon accomplished people or to commemorate extraordinary events.

Among the thousands of photographs at the Smithsonian Institution Archives are another type of historical record – the press releases and publicity photographs that accompanied announcement of an award. Not every award ceremony featured white ties, brass bands, and applauding audiences but every one of them did celebrate, with a handshake and sometimes a banquet, an important accomplishment for the honoree.

This slide show features a selection from thirty years of engineering and scientific awards from the Science Service biographical morgue.

First Presentation of the American Welding Society’s Lincoln Gold Medal, Monday, October 18, 1937. Colonel Glen F. Jenks (b. 1880) (left, in front), chairman of Award Committee of the American Welding Society, presented the Lincoln Gold Medal to Thomas M. Jackson (1883-1967) (right). In the back row were: E. R. Fish (left), American Welding Society senior vice president; Alfred E. Gibson (middle), executive vice-president of Wellman Engineering Company and American Welding Society president; and Miss M. M. Kelly (right), American Welding Society secretary. Jackson, chief electrical and welding engineer at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Chester, Pennsylvania, received the medal for his paper Welding in Tanker Construction.

Left to right: Rev. Edward Valentine Stanford, O.S.A. (1897-1966), president of Villanova College, and Dr. (Rev.) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955) in 1937. Dr. Stanford presented the college’s Mendel Science Medal to Dr. de Chardin at a faculty dinner honoring the paleontologist’s achievements in tracing the antiquity of man in Eastern Asia as far back as the Ice Age.

Left to right: Henry Butler Allen (1887-1962), secretary and director of The Franklin Institute, presented the Institute’s Edward Longstreth Medal to Games Slayter (1896-1964), vice-president in charge of research, Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, May 15, 1940. The Medal was given “in recognition of meritorious work in science and in the industrial arts” and Slayter was being honored for his development of a process for transforming glass into thread-like fibers (a product later named “Fiberglass”).

Gaston Frederick Dubois received the Perkin Medal from the American Section of the Society of Chemical Industry in 1944. Left to right: Charles Belknap (1880-1954), President, Monsanto Chemical Company; Gaston Frederick Dubois (1880-1953), senior vice-president, Monsanto Chemical Company; Marston Taylor Bogert (1868-1954), Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University; Francis J. Curtis (1894-1960), vice-president, Monsanto Chemical Company; and Charles Allen Thomas (1900-1982), director of Monsanto’s Central Research Laboratories.

The Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists was presented on May 11, 1945, to John W. Thomas, Chairman of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, during ceremonies in the Deshler-Wallick Hotel, Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Thomas (right) held the Medal as he was congratulated by Dr. Gustav Egloff (1886-1955) (left), President of the Institute. Mr. Thomas was honored for his nearly forty years of leadership in rubber research, and for achievements made under his direction in the development and production of synthetic rubber. Dr. E. L. Luaces of Dayton, Ohio, chairman of the Miami Valley Chapter of the Institute, is visible in the background.

H. W. Graham (left), senior past president of the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) and director of metallurgy and research at Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, presented the IRI Medal in 1947 to Charles Allen Thomas (1900-1982) (right), executive vice president and technical director of the Monsanto Chemical Company. Dr. Thomas was cited by the Institute for his “inspiring leadership in the development of the American research system and for the participation thus in the American chemical enterprise.” The medal was awarded at the Institute’s annual meeting at Swampscott, Massachusetts.

Award Ceremony of the National Dog Week Research Award, June 1948. Left to right: Dr. William Arthur Hagan (1893-1963), Dean of the Cornell Veterinary College and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association; Harry Miller, executive secretary of the Gaines Dog Research Center and treasurer of National Dog Week; Dr. Clive Maine McCay (1898-1967), Professor of Animal Husbandry, Cornell University, and winner of the research award; Clarence M. Olson of Chicago, president of the National Dog Week organization; and William Irving Myers (1891-1976), Dean of the Cornell College of Agriculture.

At the New York Academy of Sciences 131st annual dinner and meeting, December 16, 1948, Dr. Harden Franklin Taylor (1890-1966) (left), retiring Academy president, accepted on behalf of the Academy, a portrait of Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin and honorary life member of the Academy, from artist Bernard Godwin (1900-1967) (right). Godwin executed the work in London, at the request of an anonymous donor.

Captain Charles Wesley Shilling (1901-1994) (left), U.S. Navy Medical Corps, received the Founders’ Medal from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States in 1952, and was congratulated by U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) (right).

Left to right: Roy Arthur Hunt (1881-1966), President, Aluminum Company of America; Francis Cowles Frary (1883-1970), Director of Research, Aluminum Company of America, and recipient of the 1946 Perkin Medal; Francis J. Curtis (1894-1960), Vice-President, Monsanto Company; and Marston Taylor Bogert (1868-1954), Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University, and past president of the Society of Chemical Industry. The men were attending the 1946 Perkin Medal award dinner.

A framed display of the medals, awards, and decorations given to engineer and inventor Elihu Thomson (1853-1937) from 1888 to 1927.

Related Resources

Record Unit 7091, Science Service, Records, circa 1910-1963, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Smithsonian Exhibit Celebrates 100 Years of the Nobel Prize, Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History

Medals, National Air and Space Museum

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