Henry Bryant Bigelow, the US Bureau of Fisheries, and Intensive Area Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Oceanographers have long viewed ‘intensive area study’ as a step in the internal development of oceanography. But for its first American practitioner, Henry Bryant Bigelow, intensive area study was a new and innovative approach that allowed him to pursue fundamental questions of hydrology and zoology within the restrictions imposed by his patron, the US Bureau of Fisheries. Intellectually, such methods promised a long-term solution to the problem of predicting fluctuations in fish populations; practically, they required little money and allowed Bigelow to stay physically near the New England fisheries. Reconstructing Bigelow's relationship to the USBF provides the political and social context necessary for understanding the origins and acceptance of a scientific practice. It also shows how scientists must often negotiate between the demands of their patrons for practical information and the demands of their disciplines for ‘pure’ science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-264
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • History
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this