The First 50 Years
This publication, covering the years 1863-1913, tells the story of the Academy's first half century. Visit the National Academies Press website to download or read online. More »
"Moments in Academy History" will be provided throughout the year in celebration of the National Academy of Sciences' 150th anniversary of service to the nation through excellence in science.
The Founding of the National Academy of Sciences: March 3, 1863
posted March 1, 2013
Despite the contentious times in which they lived, President Lincoln and Congressional leaders recognized the value of science and the importance of an independent, nonprofit organization that could advise the government on scientific and technical matters. Learn more about the events that led to the formation of a science academy for America and the leaders that made it possible.
Image: This 1924 mural by Albert Herter imagines a scene with President Abraham Lincoln signing the National Academy of Sciences charter in the presence of its founders on March 3, 1863. The mural hangs in the Academy's Board Room.
America Enters the Space Age: January 31, 1958
posted February 15, 2013
America entered the Space Age with the launch of Explorer I, its first successful Earth-orbiting satellite. Explorer I was launched during the International Geophysical Year (IGY), a comprehensive series of global geophysical activities. Read more about Explorer I and the Academy's role in this effort.
Image: William H. Pickering of the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, James Van Allen of the University of Iowa, and Wernher von Braun of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency holding a model of Explorer I in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences, celebrate a successful launch. (Credit: AP/Wide World)