Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

7/1/2012 - 6/30/2013

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Exploration and Industry: Science and the History of Mining in the American West

FAIN: FB-56477-12

Paul Lucier
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar (Wakefield, RI 02879-2386)

This is a major study of the role of science in the exploration and extraction of gold, silver, and copper in the American West during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It shows how Americans became leaders in the new interdisciplinary sciences of economic geology, geophysics, and geochemistry by their active involvement in mining. It highlights the United States Geological Survey and its promotion of mining and simultaneous support of basic research. It also explores the relations between geologists and mining engineers and the development of key technologies like underground mapping. By 1900, mining had become science-based, an R&D model different from the familiar electrical and chemical industries. With geology integral to industry, mines grew deeper, companies bigger, the environmental impact greater, and the science increasingly applied. Based on rich archival sources, scientific and legal records, this study provides a new interpretation of industrial mining in the West.

Media Coverage

(Media Coverage)
Publication: Newsletter of the History of Science Society
Date: 4/1/2012
Abstract: Member News

Associated Products

"The Origins of Pure and Applied Science in Gilded Age America" (Article)
Title: "The Origins of Pure and Applied Science in Gilded Age America"
Author: Paul Lucier
Abstract: ABSTRACT “Pure science” and “applied science” have peculiar histories in the United States. Both terms were in use in the early part of the nineteenth century, but it was only in the last decades that they took on new meanings and became commonplace in the discourse of American scientists. The rise in their currency reflected an acute concern about the corruption of character and the real possibilities of commercializing scientific knowledge. “Pure” was the preference of scientists who wanted to emphasize their nonpecuniary motives and their distance from the marketplace. “Applied” was the choice of scientists who accepted patents and profits as other possible returns on their research. In general, the frequent conjoining of “pure” and “applied” bespoke the inseparable relations of science and capitalism in the Gilded Age.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Isis: An International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Publisher: University of Chicago Press