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October 2021

Ann Sci. 1998 Jan; 55(1): 1-33.

Just before Nature: The purposes of science and the purposes of popularization in some english popular science journals of the 1860s.

Barton R.

History Department, The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Popular science journalism flourished in the 1860s in England, with many new journals being projected. The time was ripe, Victorian men of science believed, for an 'organ of science' to provide a means of communication between specialties, and between men of science and the public. New formats were tried as new purposes emerged. Popular science journalism became less recreational and educational. Editorial commentary and reviewing the progress of science became more important. The analysis here emphasizes those aspects of popular science which have been identified by Frank Turner as 'public science' and by Thomas Gieryn as 'boundary-work'. the religious, intellectual, and utilitarian values claimed for science by editors and contributors in their tasks of persuading the public to support science and of distinguishing science from what they often called 'applied science' are discussed. These values are shown to vary among editors and, for the editors examined here, Shirley Hibberd, Henry Slack, James Samuelson, William Crookes, and Henry Lawson, to differ significantly from those of T. H. Huxley, John Tyndall, and Norman Lockyer, on whom much study of the popularization of science in the 1860s has focused.

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