Abstract: Technologists Talking Back: Charles Brush and the Voice of Inventor-Entrepreneurs in Academic Research Science

Mark A. Eddy


The inventor and industrialist, Charles F. Brush (1849-1929), figured prominently in the rise of Cleveland as an important hub of technological innovation and rapid industrial expansion during the latter half of the nineteenth century. National fame in the late 1800s as the inventor of pioneering technologies in electrical lighting, generation, and storage, as well as his brilliant career as a business and community leader, also afforded Brush access to professional networks of American scientists. An enthusiastic practitioner of research science, Brush was an active, well-connected member of several prestigious scientific and technical societies, including the American Philosophical Society. He presented papers at society meetings, and his theories in physics were published in nationally recognized journals such as <i>Science</i>. Brush, however, was not a professional scientist, and his status as an inventor normally would have curtailed his participation in the increasingly exclusive ranks of research science. The present study will examine how changes in professional and popular conceptions of science, industrial support of research and higher education, and changes in the institutional organization of science at the turn of the century allowed highly successful purveyors of technology like Brush to affiliate themselves with academic scientists and to influence the flow of information among the self-identified representatives of pure and applied science.