He stresses to Henry Ford II the “impact it will have upon our industrial development and upon the general welfare, and, in these times, the national defense”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the United States government that supports research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institute of Health. With an annual budget now well over $8 billion, the NSF funds approximately 25% of...
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the United States government that supports research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institute of Health. With an annual budget now well over $8 billion, the NSF funds approximately 25% of all federally supported basic research conducted by the United States colleges and universities. In some fields, such as mathematics, computer science, economics and the social sciences, the NSF is the major source of federal backing.
The genesis of the NSF came in late 1944 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, asking how the successful application of scientific knowledge to wartime problems could be carried over into peacetime. In 1950, after three more years of debate, Congress passed and President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 81-507, creating the National Science Foundation. The act provided for a National Science Board (NSB) which establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework of national policies set forth by the President and Congress. The first NSB meeting was held December 12, 1950.
In the fall of 1950, Truman was searching for appropriate members for the NSB. He thought of Henry Ford II, one of the nation’s key business leaders, and thus a logical person for Truman to contact. In World War II, just a few years before this letter, Ford had turned from manufacturing cars and instead made airplanes for the nation’s military. In fact, Ford produced 8,685 bombers for the Army Air Force by 1945.
Truman invited Ford to serve as a member. Typed letter signed, on White House letterhead, Washington, September 30, 1950, to Ford. “I have been giving very careful consideration through the appointments to be made to the National Science Board, which is to administer the National Science Foundation provided for in Public Law 507 – 81st Congress. This is a most important undertaking because of the impact it will have upon our industrial development and upon the general welfare, and, in these times, the national defense. Recommendations for membership on the Board have reflected the highest thinking toward successful administration and accomplishment of the mission of the foundation. It is essential that we have such membership. May I consider you available for this important assignment?”
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