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Crowther Papers

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Three hundred boxes hold the life’s work of James Gerald Crowther (1899–1983), a pioneering exponent of the social relations of science who fused the dual careers of science journalist and British Council policy-maker. Crowther was the first writer to make a name as the science correspondent of a leading daily newspaper, and his columns and reviews appeared regularly in the Manchester Guardian, Nature and the New Scientist from the 1920s to the 1970s. His lucid articles and popular books, including The ABC of Chemistry (1932) and Science at War (1947), communicated complex ideas to a wide readership at a time when media stereotyping of scientists adversely influenced an already sceptical public. Crowther believed this was a wrong that should be put right and he never hid his enthusiasm for Soviet planned policy towards science and technology; indeed, radical politics shaped his own efforts on the national and international stage. His standing took him far beyond the world of journalism to a wartime position with the British Council and a key role in the establishment of the post-war United Nations Organisation for Education, Science, Culture and Communication (Unesco). As such, the Archive at Sussex is as valuable for its social science dimensions as for the pure science of Crowther’s journalism. Anyone with an interest in the complex interactions of technology and government in twentieth-century Europe, played out against a backdrop of the Second World War and frosty East–West relations, will find his papers rich in all kinds of material.

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