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Helmholtz in Gilded-Age America: The International Electrical Congress of 1893 and the Relations of Science and Technology

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This essay recounts Hermann von Helmholtz's trip to represent Germany at the International Electrical Congress in Chicago in 1893 as well as his reception by various members of the American scientific, technological, and cultural elite in several other American cities. In doing so, it seeks to portray something of the vitality of the youthful and increasingly important American scientific community; of the strong relationship between American and German scientists, including how Helmholtz used and was used by them and various other members of the American elite to promote science and culture in America as well as to promote his own and German interests; and, finally, of what many considered to be the close interactions between science and technology in the late nineteenth century. In short, the essay seeks to use Helmholtz's trip to capture a sense of the broader relationship among science, the nation-state, and cultural elites in Gilded-Age America and between Germany and America.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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