Science News Letter first appeared on March 13, 1922. The publication was initially edited by Watson Davis, and published every Saturday by Science Service, Inc. The objectives of the Science Service, itself established under the National Academy of the Sciences, the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was specifically to raise public awareness and public interest in science, medicine and technology generally.

In many ways the newsletter was quite unique in its time. Each week's issue was 10-16 pages, and annual subscriptions sold for $5.00. The goal of the newsletter was to provide "accurate" synopses of ongoing scientific, medical and technological developments for the general public. The newsletter initially targetted newpapers and other journalistic sources, first to improve the quality and accuracy of science reporting in the popular press, but also because they felt that far too much information available to the public was erroneous, sensationalized and simply misleading. Despite this narrow identification of an audience he popularity of the weekly digests grew so rapidly that soon libraries, schools and individuals increasingly held subscriptions. Science News Letter was renamed Science News in 1966, and remains a popular digest of science news.

Science News Letter contained many references to penicillin, as well as other medical developments and so-called miracle drugs. Examine the articles in the Science News Letter archive carefully. Who do you think the authors of these articles are? Why is this important? What do you think some of the reasons behind the newsletters interest in popularizing science with the public were? Describe the language, tone and content of these articles. How are they different than the materials you reviewed from Time, Parents, and Life magazines? Why is this important? What do the messages explicitly and implicitly contained in these materials reveal about how the magazines editors and contributors felt (and wanted to convey to the public) about the role and importance of science, medicine and technology in the daily lives of average Americans?

Science News Letter Archive:


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