Date: Sept. 10, 2007

Contact: Maureen O’Leary, Director of Public Information

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail <>






WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is making 150 years of American scientific history available by publishing its entire collection of Biographical Memoirs on the Internet.  Biographical Memoirs are brief biographies of deceased NAS members written by those who knew them or their work.


Since 1877, NAS has published over 1,400 memoirs.  Although the memoirs published since 1995 have been freely available on the Academy's Web site, over 900 memoirs were available previously only through archives and libraries.  "This is a ‘historic’ event that will have substantial scholarly value and be of general interest to the public.  This personal and scholarly view of the lives and work of such prominent scientists will be a wonderful resource," said John Brauman, home secretary of the Academy.


Among the additional 500 memoirs published online are those of famed naturalist Louis Agassiz; Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Thomas Edison; Alexander Graham Bell; noted anthropologist Margaret Mead; and psychologist and philosopher John Dewey.  More memoirs will be published regularly until the entire collection is available online.  PDF files of each memoir are available online at


The National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1863, is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Election to the Academy is considered is one of the highest honors that a U.S. scientist can receive.