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Biologists and the Promise of American Life : From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey - Philip J. Pauly

Biologists and the Promise of American Life

From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey

Paperback Published: 17th March 2002
ISBN: 9780691092867
Number Of Pages: 336

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Explorers, evolutionists, eugenicists, sexologists, and high school biology teachers--all have contributed to the prominence of the biological sciences in American life. In this book, Philip Pauly weaves their stories together into a fascinating history of biology in America over the last two hundred years.

Beginning with the return of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806, botanists and zoologists identified science with national culture, linking their work to continental imperialism and the creation of an industrial republic. Pauly examines this nineteenth-century movement in local scientific communities with national reach: the partnership of Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz at Harvard University, the excitement of work at the Smithsonian Institution and the Geological Survey, and disputes at the Agriculture Department over the continent's future. He then describes the establishment of biology as an academic discipline in the late nineteenth century, and the retreat of life scientists from the problems of American nature. The early twentieth century, however, witnessed a new burst of public-oriented activity among biologists. Here Pauly chronicles such topics as the introduction of biology into high school curricula, the efforts of eugenicists to alter the "breeding" of Americans, and the influence of sexual biology on Americans' most private lives.

Throughout much of American history, Pauly argues, life scientists linked their study of nature with a desire to culture--to use intelligence and craft to improve American plants, animals, and humans. They often disagreed and frequently overreached, but they sought to build a nation whose people would be prosperous, humane, secular, and liberal. Life scientists were significant participants in efforts to realize what Progressive Era oracle Herbert Croly called "the promise of American life." Pauly tells their story in its entirety and explains why now, in a society that is rapidly returning to a complex ethnic mix similar to the one that existed for a hundred years prior to the Cold War, it is important to reconnect with the progressive creators of American secular culture.

Industry Reviews

"A tantalizing and ambitious study that places American biologists squarely in the middle of national, social political, and economic development ...Pauly has an elegant writing style that makes this book a pleasure to read... A remarkable vision of the place of science in American life that will be enjoyed by historians and scientists alike."--Audra J. Wolfe, Science "Ambitious in its scope ... Pauly's book grafts the stories of local and regional communities of scientists onto a narrative stock of national improvement and progress... [A] valuable contribution to the local and regional history of biology in American culture."--Gregg Mitman, American Scientist "This book is a significant contribution to the worthy task of integrating the history of science and American history."--Christine Keiner, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine "An engaging, intelligent, and challenging study... It is a masterful narrative that raises fascinating and thought-provoking issues."--Otniel E. Dror, Journal of the History of Medicine "Here, at last, is a book that skillfully narrates stories from the biological sciences in ways that demonstrate their connection to other aspects of American culture. An important book."--Sally Gergory Kohlestedt, The Journal of American History "A wonderful book about biologists and their work on the American continent... Biologists and the Promise of American Life is an important and well-crafted contribution to American history."--John L. Rudolph, History of Education Quarterly "Biologists and the Promise of American Life offers a fascinating overview of the development of American biology from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the second World War."--Gerald J. Fitzgerald, Environmental History "Biologists and the Promise of American Life ... is extremely well researched, it is very well written, and it provides many interesting historical insights while, at the same time, it asks many provocative questions. Pauly's new work will become the standard text for overviews of American biology from the early nineteenth century until the Second World War."--Keith R. Benson, Bulletin of the History of Medicine "An engaging history that will be valued by both specialists and general readers... The treatment of people is insightful and sympathetic. In a series of vignettes Pauly captures each person's essential qualities--and eccentricities--and shows how in diverse ways they expressed the many varieties of American experience... While covering vast ground, he engages the reader's attention by keeping the individuals in clear focus."--Sharon Kingsland, Isis "In this thoughtful and gracefully written book, Pauly shows how American biologists in the first half of the twentieth century took on the project of developing the science of biology in the United States as a cultural project... He shows us a world of scientists deeply engaged in a project that they understand as simultaneously moral, social, political, and thoroughly scientific."--Naomi Oreskes, Journal of the History of Behavioral Science "A useful and thought-provoking contribution to the understanding of the role of a natural science--biology--in shaping the culture of the modern world."--Maciej Henneberg, Journal of Biosocial Science

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction Toward a Cultural History of American Biologyp. 3
Naturalist and National Development in the Nineteenth Century
Natural History and Manifest Destiny, 1800-1865p. 15
Lewis to Barton to Pursh: The Lack of Teamwork among American Naturalistsp. 15
Nature in the Early Republicp. 17
The Education of John Torreyp. 22
Asa Gray, American Botanical Entrepreneurp. 25
Gray, Agassiz, and the Impending Crisisp. 33
Darwin and the Union's Struggle for Existencep. 39
Culturing Fish, Culturing People: Federal Naturalists in the Gilded Age, 1865-1893p. 44
The Struggles of Spencer Bairdp. 45
A Golden Age in the Gilded Agep. 47
A Scientific Communityp. 51
Guiding National Developmentp. 56
Evolutionary Culturep. 60
Conflicting Visions of American Ecological Independencep. 71
The Beauty and Menace of the Japanese Cherry Treesp. 71
America's Ecological Open Doorp. 74
The Beginnings of a Federal Response to Pestsp. 76
Ecological Cosmopolitanism in the Bureau of Plant Industryp. 80
The Return of the Nativistsp. 84
Ecological Independence and Immigration Restrictionp. 89
Specialization and Organization Prologue
Whitman's American Biologyp. 94
Life Science Initiatives in the Late Nineteenth Centuryp. 99
The Eclipse of the Federal Naturalistsp. 99
From Agassiz to Burbank: A Cross-Country Tourp. 103
Academic Biology: Searching for Order in Lifep. 126
American Naturalistsp. 127
A Scientific Confederacyp. 131
Medical Reform, Universities, and Urban Lifep. 133
Whitman and Chicagop. 139
Challenges to University Biologyp. 141
A Place of Their Own: The Significance of Woods Holep. 145
Summer Coloniesp. 146
Summering Scientistsp. 148
The Development of Woods Holep. 150
Whitman's Desiresp. 152
The Biological Communityp. 153
Woods Hole and American Biologyp. 158
Neglecting American Lifep. 160
The Age of Biology Prologue
A View from the Heightsp. 166
The Development of High School Biologyp. 171
Life in Hell's Kitchenp. 173
Biology Education and Mental Developmentp. 179
Pedagogical Problemsp. 185
Producing Modern Americansp. 191
Big Questionsp. 194
Why the Scopes Trial Matteredp. 194
The Rough Rider, and Other Spokesmen for Sciencep. 196
Academic Biologists Address the Publicp. 198
William Emerson Ritter and the Glory of lifep. 201
Good Breeding in Modern Americap. 214
The Imperfect Amalgamation of Eugenics and Biologyp. 215
Charles B. Davenport and the Difficullty of Eugenic Researchp. 221
Solving the Problems of Sexp. 227
Alfred Kinsey's Americap. 233
Epiloguep. 239
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 303
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691092867
ISBN-10: 0691092869
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 17th March 2002
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.47 x 15.44  x 2.03
Weight (kg): 0.48