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Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2059-9072
  • E-ISSN: 2059-9099



For historians of twentieth-century popular science, Watson Davis’ 1939 report, A Survey of the Interpretation of Science to the Public, has long represented a special part of the field’s ‘grey literature’. The report’s analyses appear sophisticated and nuanced. But if the survey analysis was reliable, why had it never been published? The saga of the suppressed report offers insight into how scientists and journalists perceived the role, goals and importance of popularization. The report’s observations about contemporary culture and its statistical analysis of contemporary movies, radio programming, newspapers, magazines and books, preserved in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, are valuable resources for historians.


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