Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel Prizes |

Pure Science: Marie Curie and the American Gift

Introduction by Wendy Singer "Changing the world, one woman at a time," announces the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on its Web site. And in 1921 that woman was Marie Curie, who, even after winning the Nobel Prize twice—once for physics and once for chemistry—could not afford one gram of radium for her research. Through a massive solicitation effort, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (which became AAUW in 1921) raised $150,000 on her behalf. What captured the imagination of the American donors and lay at the essence of the campaign, was Curie's plea for "pure science." The documents collected here demonstrate that commitment to scientific research and its relationship to the competing interests in science for medical and applied purposes.1 They include excerpts from the fundraising letter written by Gertrude Martin, Curie's thank-you note to Martin, her speech at Vassar College in 1921, and a draft of her acceptance speech to the President of the Uni

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Wendy Singer is the Roy T. Wortman Professor of History and South Asian Studies at Kenyon College. She is author, recently, of Independent India (Routledge, 2012), a thematic history of India since independence that includes sources of art and literature. Believing in the power of storytelling that lies at the heart of history-writing, she is currently collaborating on creative writing workshops for academics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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