About: History & Archives
150 Years of Advancing Science: A History of AAAS
Newspaper magnate E. W. Scripps was the source of an initiative
that engaged AAAS in popularization in the 1920s. Believing that
the public in a democratic society needed to know more about science, he
envisioned an agency that would be controlled by scientists and would distribute
news stories about science to newspapers. Science News Service (later
Science Service) was established in March 1920 with support from Scripps
and a board including representatives of AAAS and the National Academy
AAAS and Science: 1900-1940
Throughout the 1920s, Science Service distributed articles of many types to newspapers and magazines and, in 1921, began publishing Science News Letter, known today as Science News. In late 1922, Cattell began publishing bulletins from Science Service as a "Science News" section in Science.
By the mid-1920s, Science Service, which had initially helped to arrange coverage of AAAS annual meetings, began devoting less and less attention to the meetings. AAAS responded by appointing Austin H. Clark, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum, as its first director of publicity. Clark, who established a AAAS Press Service a few years later, helped bring much attention to AAAS meetings. The 1926 meeting in Philadelphia is reported to have received 1,391 column-inches in eight local newspapers. Newspapers across the country covered the meetings as did Time, Newsweek, The Literary Digest, and Life. By 1938, AAAS helped NBC produce radio programs such as "Science Everywhere," "Science on the March," and "Science in the News."