Skip to main content
Email Print Share

NSF History - 50th Anniversary

Staff celebrating anniversary in front of NSF 50 sign

Celebrating NSF's 50th anniversary at our Arlington headquarters in 2000.


"Penicillin, the proximity fuze, the atom bomb, among a host of other scientific contributions to American victory in the Second World War, brought home to many citizens the value of scientific research. In the continuing crisis after the war, there were few who opposed the proposition that sustained Federal support of science and research was essential to the defense and welfare of the United States."

"By the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 the Congress established the National Science Foundation to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes. The President approved the act on May 10, 1950."

– Excerpt from The First Annual Report of the National Science Foundation, 1950-51

In 2000 NSF marked its 50th anniversary with events, publications and a special Web site.


An Overview of the First 50 Years

America's Investment in the Future (the book)
Published for NSF's 50th anniversary, the book highlights some of the achievements and benefits that have resulted from the Foundation's investments in science and engineering over the years.

America's Investment in the Future (the video)
A 13-minute video showcasing NSF and its mission, explaining who we are, what we do, and why our work is important to everyone.

Nifty 50
NSF-funded inventions, innovations and discoveries that have become commonplace in our lives.

National Science Foundation: Celebrating 50 Years
A brochure from NSF's 50th anniversary celebration in 2000. The brochure provides a brief history of the Foundation and offers details from the NSF50 event that commemorated the first fifty years from 1950-2000.
Note: this content is provided for archival purposes only.

Important Historical Dates

Science, The Endless Frontier
A Report to the President by Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, July 1945

Address to the Centennial Anniversary AAAS
President Harry S Truman's September, 1948 speech to the Centennial AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. This speech is credited with giving rise to NSF's creation.

State of the Union Address (Excerpt 1) (Excerpt 2)
Excerpts from the Address Delivered by President Harry S Truman on January 4, 1950.

The National Science Foundation Class of 1952
William A. Blanpied, Division of International Programs/National Science Foundation