The U.S. Radium Industry: Industrial In-house Research and the Commercialization of Science
- 252 Downloads
A fierce debate ensued after the announcement in 1913 in the U.S.A. that all rights and ownership of radium-bearing ores found on public land would be reserved by the government. At stake was the State monopolization of radium that pitted powerful industrialists with radium claims, mainly in the Colorado area, against the Bureau of Mines and prestigious physicians who wished to reserve radium for medical uses. This article describes the strategies of one of the biggest U.S. radium industries that dominated the radium market, created huge customer bases, and legitimized their role within the scientific community. In contrast to the European “radium situation,” radium extraction, production, and marketing in the United States was controlled by the industry; and industrial in-house research was clearly separate from that done in academic circles. The production of knowledge was ready-made in the factory and was entangled with commercial orders and advertising patterns.
KeywordsRadium industry Commercialization of science Standard Chemical Company Industrial in-house research Radioactivity
I would like to thank Hans-Jörg Rheinberger for his hospitality at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. To Paul Frame of Oak Ridge Universities in Tennessee I owe a debt for long-distance help in accessing important archival material. My thanks also go to Ursula Klein for her insightful comments on several versions of the paper and her overall support. It is my pleasure to thank the two anonymous referees of Minerva and the editors for helping me to clarify my arguments. Finally I would like to acknowledge the valuable editorial help of Spiros Petrounakos.
- Achilladelis, Basil. 1999. Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. In Pharmaceutical innovation: Revolutionizing human health, ed. Landau Ralph, Basil Achillaelis, and Alexander Scriabine, 1–147. Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Press.Google Scholar
- Anonymous. 1920. The story of Pittsburgh: Iron and steel. Pittsburgh: First National Bank at Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
- Badash, Lawrence. 1979. Radioactivity in America: Growth and decay of a science. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
- Clark, Claudia. 1997. Radium girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910–1935. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
- Clements, Roger. 1960. British investment in the trans-Mississippi west, 1870–1914: Its encouragement, and the metal mining interests. Pacific Historical Review 29(1): 35–50.Google Scholar
- Field, Everett. 1926. Internal radium therapy—Some practical suggestions for the general practitioner. American Medicine January: 40–43.Google Scholar
- Fleming, George. 1922. The history of Pittsburgh and environs, vol. 2. New York: The American Historical Society.Google Scholar
- Frame, Paul. 1999. Health physics historical instrumentation collection. Oak Ridge Associated Universities. http://www.orau.org/ptp/museumdirectory.htm. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
- Fricke, Rudolf. 2001. Friedrich Oscar Giesel: Pionier der Radioactivitätsforschung, Opfer seiner Wissenschaft. Wolfenbüttel: AF Verlag.Google Scholar
- Harvie, David. 2005. Deadly sunshine: The history and fatal legacy of radium. United Kingdom: Tempus Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
- Hughes, Jeffrey. 1993. The radioactivists: Community, controversy and the rise of nuclear physics. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Kant, Horst. 2005. Forschungen über Radioaktivität am Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Chemie Die Abteilung(en) Hahn-Meitner und ihre internationalen Kontakten. In Aus Wissenschaftsgeschichte und—theorie Hubert Laitko zum 70 Geburtstag, ed. Kant Horst, and Annette Vogt, 289–320. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschafts-und Regionalgeschichte. Dr. Michael Engel.Google Scholar
- Landa, Edward. 1987. Buried treasure to buried waste: The rise and fall of the radium industry. Colorado School of Mines Quarterly 82(2): 1–76.Google Scholar
- Lubenau, Joel. 2005. Standard Chemical Company, Marie Curie and Canonsburg. Jefferson College Times, March. http://www.canonsburgboro.com. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
- Mould, Richard. 1993. A century of x-rays and radioactivity in medicine: With emphasis on photographic records of the early years. Bristol: Institute of Physics Publishing.Google Scholar
- Pflaum, Rosalynd. 1989. Grand obsession: Madame Curie and her world. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Proescher, Frederick. 1913. The intravenous injection of soluble radium salts in man. Radium 1: 9–10.Google Scholar
- Proescher, Frederick. 1914a. The intravenous injection of soluble radium salts. Radium 1: 45–53.Google Scholar
- Proescher, Frederick. 1914b. The intravenous injection of soluble radium salts II. Radium 2: 61–64.Google Scholar
- Proescher, Frederick. 1914c. The intravenous injection of soluble radium salts III. Radium 2: 77–87.Google Scholar
- Ramsey, R. 1915. Radium fertilizer. Science 42(1076): 219. doi: 10.1126/science.42.1076.219.
- Rentetzi, Maria. 2007. Trafficking materials and gendered experimental practices: Radium research in early twentieth century Vienna. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Robinson, Roger. 2000. American Radium Engenders Telecurie Therapy during World War I. American Association of Physicists in Medicine 27(6): 1212–1216.Google Scholar
- Scarborough, Robert. 1981. Radioactive occurrences and uranium production in Arizona. U.S. Department of Energy No 79-374E.Google Scholar
- Silverman, Alexander. 1934. Obituary: Henry Titus Koenig, 1891–1934. Science 80(2062): 8. doi: 10.1126/science.80.2062.8.
- Silverman, Alexander. 1950. Pittsburgh’s contribution to radium recovery. Journal of Chemical Education 27: 303–308.Google Scholar
- Sturgess, Luise, Albert Tannler, and David Vater. 2006. Whirlwind downtown walking tour: A selection of architectural landmarks and public spaces in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.Google Scholar
- Viol, Charles. 1915. The radium situation in America. Radium 4: 105–120.Google Scholar
- Viol, Charles. 1921. The story of Mme Curie’s gram of radium. Radium xvii(3): 37–52.Google Scholar
- Viol, Charles, and William Cameron. 1920. Compendium of abstracts of papers on the therapeutic use of radium. Pittsburgh: Radium Chemical Company.Google Scholar