Abstract: The Incubation of Patronage in Interwar America

Thomas Scheiding


When discussing the research environment in the first half of the twentieth century, a dominant theme is that the wars were transformational events that altered the trajectory of research management and funding. The transformational effect of the wars is undermined, though, when one considers that during the interwar period in the areas of medicine and agriculture the Chemical Foundation encouraged and shaped the research infrastructure. Rather than the wars altering the trajectories of research management and funding in medicine and agriculture, the wars were events that accelerated changes initiated by the Chemical Foundation during the interwar period. What was needed during the interwar period was a quasi-identity research patron with a motivation driven by both a profit motive and the public good. In this paper I investigate the way in which the Chemical Foundation as a quasi-identity patron provided financial and organizational assistance that was designed to incubate and coordinate research patronage in medicine and agriculture. This incubation role is important to highlight because it demonstrates the lasting influence that the Chemical Foundation had on the financing and organizing of research.