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NSF History

National Science Foundation history
In Their Own WordsNational Science Foundation and National Science Board leaders on science and science policy
The National Science Foundation:
A Brief History
A report by George T. Mazuzan, Former NSF Historian, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, July 15, 1994.
History PublicationsA collection of publications, articles and reports about the history of NSF.
ArchivesLinks to the Speech, News, and NSF & Congress Archives, and NSF Budget Requests to Congress.
Anniversaries - 60thHighlights from NSF's 60th anniversary celebration in 2010.
Anniversaries - 50thHighlights from NSF's 50th anniversary celebration in 2000.



The American people recognized that scientists and engineers had helped win World War II. Penicillin and the atomic bomb were but the two best known of the many contributions made by the research community. With the coming of peace, the challenge facing politicians and researchers alike was how to ensure that science and engineering would continue both to expand the frontiers of knowledge and serve the American people. The answer was the National Science Foundation (NSF), established in 1950, which continues to be the only federal agency dedicated to the support of fundamental research and education in all scientific and engineering disciplines. Charged with making certain that the United States maintains leadership in scientific discovery and the development of new technologies, the NSF has provided funding for thousands of distinguished scientists and engineers to conduct groundbreaking research, including many Nobel Prize Winners.


Please contact for more information on NSF's history.

Image credits: (left to right): Carnegie Institution of Washington; National Science Foundation/United States Antarctic Program; NOAO/AURA/NSF; Vincent Crespi, Pennsylvania State Physics; Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project (; National Science Board; Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Nursebot Project