Definitions and Speculations: The Professionalization of Science in America in the Nineteenth Century

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  • This work begins with a lengthy definition of "professionalization" and "professional." The author describes the nineteenth century scientific community as consisting of researchers, practitioners (or professionals) and cultivators (or amateurs) His discussion of Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian, mentions Henry's relationship with "cultivators" such as Major General Erastus Root, Andrew Stevenson, Charles Nicoll Bancker, Joseph G. Cogswell, and Lee Morris Rutherford, and with the National Institute for the Promotion of Science.
  • The section on "practitioners" begins with a lengthy summary of professional science in America during the nineteenth century. The section on "researchers" primarily addresses the emergence of the research community in American science. An appendix provides the total number of American scientists mentioned in nineteenth century statistical publications such as the Historical Statistics of the United States and the Register of the Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States.


  • Bancker, Charles Nicoll
  • Cogswell, Joseph G
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Root, Erastus
  • Rutherford, Lee Morris
  • Stevenson, Andrew
  • National Institute
  • National Institution for the Promotion of Science


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


The author edited volumes 1 through 5 of The Papers of Joseph Henry. Includes notes and appendix.

Contained within

The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Early American Republic: American Scientific and Learned Societies from Colonial Times to the Civil War (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • History of Science and Technology
  • History--United States--19th century
  • Learned institutions and societies
  • Scientists

Physical description

pp. 33-69

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