To dissertation's title page...
THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF ALCOHOLISM, 1933-1939
From the Carnegie Grant to "Bowman's Compromise," October 1938-December 1939
Over the course of the fifteen-month period from October 1938 to the end of 1939 the RCPA's project list grew to 35 studies, but the group made discouragingly little headway in securing funding. At the group's second annual meeting--in September 1939--just three successes could be reported: two small and one large grant had been received (*1). The large grant occupies an historic place in the history of the modern alcoholism movement and an account of its winning will be provided in a moment. By that same September, however, Karl Bowman and a special financial committee were struggling to figure out how to make use of Wet offers of financial support. Their proposal for doing so, which the RCPA would adopt in October 1939, would ideally turn the group's research attentions for the first time exclusively to projects addressing alcoholism as opposed to the larger array of alcohol-related issues that had formerly comprised the group's approved study lists. All proposed projects not addressing some aspect of alcoholism would be dropped from the approved list.
The Carnegie Corporation was one of several foundations the RCPA group turned to after Rockefeller's rejection. In this case the group would prove successful in winning a $25,000 grant to review the literature on alcohol's effects on man, which grant in turn would bring E.M. Jellinek into the field and, in effect, start the movement's ball rolling. The grant request, after more than a year of Carnegie ambivalence, was finally approved on 23 May 39, and was the by-now two-year old RCPA's first substantial victory in its exhausting grant-getting enterprise.
By the spring of 1938 the Carnegie Corporation president, Frederick P. Keppel, had served for 15 years in that post, and, according to Nielsen (1972, p. 36), had run the organization "largely as a one-man show" but nevertheless wielding power with openness and a spirit of personal accessibility. As it happens, Keppel commissioned Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma in 1938, and the foreword he wrote for Myrdal's two-volume work could probably have echoed his justification for proffering support to the RCPA as well. Therein, Keppel "cautiously justified" the foundation's involvement with contemporary social issues in terms that were thoroughly congruent with the spirit of the RCPA's envisioned enterprise.Provided the foundation limits itself to its proper function, namely, to make the facts available and then let them speak for themselves, and does not undertake to instruct the public as to what to do about them, studies of this kind provide a wholly proper and, experiences has shown, sometimes a hightly important use of their funds (quoted in Nielsen, 1972, pp. 39-40).Moore first contacted Keppel in mid-March 1938, at which time Keppel gave Moore "no assurances of great interest, but did make it clear that he would not be afraid of the problem because it is at present an unpopular one" (Moore to Wilbur, 17 Mar 38, LMA). Moore asked Wilbur if he were willing to write to Keppel "merely emphasizing that we are dealing with a major social problem that is likely to grow more important during the next decade and that in your judgment we have brought together a competent group for the purpose?" Wilbur promptly did so, writing Keppel of the RCPA as a group "some of us have set up in the hope that a thorough scientific study of the alcohol question can be made without prejudice and without partisanship" (Wilbur to Keppel, 19 Mar 38, CCA).
As luck would have it, Keppel soon left for Europe, and did not take up the RCPA's request immediately (Moore to Wilbur, 30 Mar 38). Contact with Keppel and Carnegie would not resume until late October, more than six months later, and after the group had been formally presented in the New York Times and Science reports. In late October Keppel's files show his receipt of two letters of encouragement from RCPA Scientific Committee members, one from Luther C. Gulick and the other from Hans T. Clarke (*2). Both letters urged Keppel's positive response to the RCPA at a planned forthcoming meeting on 27 October 1938, and both letters are interesting for the rhetorical touchstones they employed to engage Keppel's interest and support.
Gulick asked Keppel to give the group "some strong support." He noted that Dr. Livingston Farrand (president of Cornell) might accept the group's presidency, and Dr. James R. Angell (president of Yale, and formerly president of the Carnegie Corporation) "has become increasingly interested" in the group. "Numerous individuals with money instead of brains have shown no interest," Gulick noted, expressing an indirect affirmation that the wisdom of the foundation system must be available for worthwhile but unpopular projects such as this to receive support in the society. "If we were working for or against prohibition," Gulick continued, "we might get their support. But unbiased research does not seem to appeal to their emotions." Gulick's letter also noted, "For financial support, our experience of the past few weeks seems to indicate that we must look to the foundations." Gulick's closing paragraph emphasized the RCPA's strongest selling point--namely, its remarkably prestigious roster of American scientists. "I doubt whether ever again as distinguised a group can be brought together for this purpose," he noted (Gulick to Keppel, 26 Oct 38, CCA). Hans T. Clarke's letter, like Gulick's, stressed the reputations and interests of people involved with the RCPA. Clarke cited the late Earl B. McKinley's great interest, the involvement of Harry Moore, Karl Bowman, and himself. He also noted the existence of Anton J. Carlson's similarly oriented group at Chicago and that group's prospective merger with the RCPA, clearing the field of competitors (Clarke to Keppel, 25 Oct 38, CCA).
Neither Keppel's nor Wilbur's files made record of the 27 October 1938 meeting with RCPA members, if it was actually held. The next record appearing in Keppel's files is dated almost two months later (20 Dec 38)--that being a cryptic account of an interview involvidng Keppel and RCPA representatives Luther Gulick, Hans Clarke, and Albert Poffenberger (*3). The roster of the RCPA's now two dozen studies was presented to Keppel and discussed collectively. The account reports that the RCPA group "was ready to disprove the general impression that enough is already known about alcohol and its effects" (Minute, 20 Dec 38, CCA). Interestingly, Bowman noted that he thought Robert A. Fleming, a former Rockefeller man, would be a good project leader for study No. 1, the literature review (*4). "Much of the discussion," the minutes noted,was devoted to discussing what the Council really meant by its secondary objective 'education.' They say they mean neither propaganda nor legislation, but they appear to hesitate when FPK suggested the British term 'vulgarization' (Carnegie Minutes, 20 Dec 38, CCA).Moore wrote Wilbur of this meeting three days later, noting that Keppel "seems to have been favorably impressed and may give us $25,000 for Study No. 1" (Moore to Wilbur, 23 Dec 38, LMA). Keppel's files show that a more detailed, three-page, single-spaced outline of Study No. 1 was received by the Carnegie Corporation in mid-January 1939. That document reveals, I believe, how the RCPA's Study No. 1 had by then become the repository and reflection of both the original SCNCA group's efforts to gather together the authoritative scientific knowledge on alcohol and Albert Barrows' good advice that any large scientific undertaking ought to begin with an expert and searching examination of the available literature. Under the heading of the "Value of the survey," the following passage provides a clear image of the conjunction of these two influences:While a great deal of research work has been done on alcohol and while a large number of books and pamphlets have been published for popular consumption, there probably has never been a time when the general public has been so much in doubt as the truth regarding the effects of alcohol on the individual....Furthermore, there has been so much emotionalism connected with activities in this field, that the truth has been in large measure obscured. Inaccurate statements are sometimes set forth in such a persuasive way that they are accepted as true; on the other hand, the truth about alcohol seems to be at times suppressed....It is important that distinction be made between evidence which is accepted by recognized authorities and that which is in dispute, that sound methods be employed in setting forth the accepted results of research, and that the report be published by a scientific body with nation-wide prestige. Under such conditions, an effective attack by special interests is not likely to be made....The survey here outlined will meet the requirements indicated. In brief, it will make possible a report of accepted factual data for the immediate use of educational agencies and it will provide the basic information as to inadequacies, gaps and contradictions in our present knowledge upon with the Council's research program may be intelligently developed (RCPA Outline, received by Carnegie Corporation, 13 Jan 39, p. 3, CCA).On 2 February 1939 Poffenberger wrote Keppel offering a "personal opinion" on the RCPA and its program, a letter which reveals that Moore himself and his handling of the group's early history was not viewed with pleasure by all observers. Poffenberger began by dismissing the Times ("Scientists Launch," 1938) editorial's notion that enough was already known about alcohol by citing the case of drunk driving, where very little was in fact known with certainty. This lack of knowledge derived, he wrote, from the absence of "systematic, well-planned, long-term and unprejudiced attack." The RCPA offered such a prospect, but it had, according to Poffenberger,started off on the wrong foot, with a program of ballyhoo and high-pressure selling that seemed to me both premature and unbecoming. It was the promoter's wrong way of getting funds for an entirely laudable purpose. That approach has been discarded and I think that I may have had something to do with the change. It seemed to me and to others of the scientific group that if the project is as important as we think it is, and if it is properly presented, it will get financial support. I still think that, although I am afraid we are somewhat handicapped by the earlier impression and must expect to expend some effort in offsetting it (Poffenberger to Keppel, 2 Feb 39, CCA).Keppel had apparently asked Poffenberger on an earlier occasion whether the RCPA was "just a scheme for getting financial support for what people are already doing and probably would do anyway." Poffenberger responded that "that is not the case" and gave reasons why it might appear to have been so. Poffenberger noted that Rockefeller's demand that others support the group first had led the RCPA to emphasize "certain projects at Bellevue and at the New York Psychiatric particularly which were about to be initiated and for which some support was available or in sight were listed [on the group's schedule of projects]" (Poffenberger to Keppel, 2 Feb 39, p. 2, CCA). Other factors tending to give the wrong impression were noted as well, including the group's intention to seek out qualified researchers in the country's universities for its program of research. But Poffenberger emphasized that the "main thrust of the scientific committee of the Council is upon a systematically planned, long-term, unprejudiced program of research, and such a program is nowhere in progress." It was this long-range research plan, Poffenberger asserted, that defined the RCPA's potential contribution to the alcohol territory. He closed again emphasizing the newly scientific character and stewardship of the group:I must repeat that I was skeptical of the original set-up (which has been changed) and am still critical. But I have confidence in the hard-headedness of the scientific committee which has taken active control. Promoters and 'savers of the world' now play a minor role (Poffenberger to Keppel, 2 Feb 39, p. 2, CCA).Still the process dragged on. In late March Keppel's file indicated that he exchanged correspondence on the RCPA with Vannevar Bush, President of the Carnegie Corporation's sister institution, the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. Keppel apparently sought Bush's impression of the group as well as an indication whether the Washington organization might be in a position to offer the RCPA support. Bush, however, noted that he saw "no way in which it links in especially well with the work of the Institution," though he suggested that such a conclusion should not affect the RCPA's chances with Keppel's Corporation (Bush to Keppel, 20 Mar 39, CCA). In subsequent correspondence Bush noticed that an illustration in the RCPA's brochure--showing a large group of formally-attired guests raising a toast--had been presented in such a way as to leave the impression that "there is something sinful about drinking a toast in this manner." In Bush's view, this misstep suggested that even an effort so deliberately intent upon addressing its subject with "no preconceived notions and on a basis of finding out well established scientific facts and relationships" still nevertheless could easily fall prey to tacit biases. "I suppose it is too much to expect a really scientific, dispassionate, and disinterested entry into his highly controversial field," Bush concluded, "but I wish very much that it could be obtained" (Bush to Keppel, 21 Mar 39, CCA).
Finally, on 15 May 39 Keppel and the Carnegie Corporation received a fully articulated proposal for Study No. 1--accompanied by a cover letter (signed by Moulton, Bowman and Clarke), a newly drafted proposal, a budget, an RCPA membership roster, and an organization/personnel chart. Jolliffe was presented at the proposed study's director, and his qualifications were described as follows:Dr. Jolliffe is Chief of the Medical Service of the Psychiatric Division of Bellevue Hosptial. In 1937, he conducted a study on the etiology and treatment of alcoholism and the alcoholic psychoses in Europe, with the aid of a special grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In connection with this study he visited approximately eleven countries. His writings in the field of medicine include 37 titles. Approximately 24 of these are in the general field of alcohol. While they are all collaborations, in each case he is the senior author (Moulton, Bowman, and Clarke to Keppel, 15 May 39, CCA).In fact, Jolliffe had been the RCPA's second or third candidate for the project's directorship. An unsigned and undated "Report on Research No. 1," probably authored by Bowman and written some time before 30 October 1938, documents that the RCPA's first candidate had been Robert Fleming, putting the project at the Harvard University Medical School. But discussions with Medical School Dean Burwell and Harvard Physiologist and AAAS President Walter B. Cannon failed. "Dr. Fleming," the report said, "could not now give the matter adequate attention" (Report, n.d., HMF). Other names considered included F.G. Benedict, "formerly of the Carnegie Nutrition Laboratory" (see Minutes, 8 Nov 38, p. 1, LMA) and H.B. Haag of the Medical College of Virginia (see Chapter VI). Though Haag's "experience and competence" recommended him, "[i]t was feared that the selection of Dr. Haag (in case he might have been available) would bring the Council into a sharply controversial situation" (Report, n.d., HMF), and the proposal was not followed-up. Discussions involving Cannon and Moulton (presumably with Bowman) finally settled on Jolliffe as director.
With Jolliffe at the helm, the study would be sited at the New York Academy of Medicine, where both the library and office space might be available. The proposal outlined a year's work for the director (part-time), a scientific secretary, and five readers (each working ten months), and sundry clerical assistance. The tentative plan for the study called for the director and scientific secretary to look for a "reliable summary of past work" in each of ten specific topic areas to be pursued. With the "previous work" summary in hand, then, each area's literature might be divided into two parts, that produced before and that produced after the summary. Each topic, moreover, would be divided into even smaller sub-topics, and significant conclusions in the summary literature with respect to each sub-topic would be identified. Readers would then abstract recent scientific literature with respect to each sub-topic and its collection of older "significant conclusions." In this way, the conclusions of an older literature would be evaluated against the results of newer research. The proposal commented in a footnote that the "discovery of material will be facilitated by the publication and frequent use of a comprehensive bibliography of the literature on alcohol, recently prepared by Robert Fleming, M.D.," consisting of roughly 12,000 titles (RCPA to Carnegie Proposal, 15 May 39, CCA).
As work in each sub-topic area approached completion, each scientific assertion would be graded either established, doubtful, or not valid according to the results of the review. These evaluations, in turn, would be presented to the "Committee in Charge" of that topic area, "whose chairman or other members may consult any member of the Advisory Committee desired in respect to the designation made. This procedure is suggested to assure accuracy and fair evaluation for each document abstracted" (RCPA to Carnegie Proposal, 15 May 39, p. 4, CCA). Finally, abstracts would be grouped under ten or more major topic areas, and the resulting doucment would be submitted to theCommittee in Charge and then to the Scientific Committee of the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol for final approval. When approved it will constitute a permanent archive. This archive will become the property of the Council, which may later present it to some appropriate institution....From this archive a final scientific report will be prepared and published in book form (RCPA to Carnegie Proposal, 15 May 39, p. 4, CCA).The thrust and aesthetic of these passages leaves little doubt that this proposal focused primarily on the development of an authoritative body of confirmed knowledge offered with science's full and conscious blessing. The motif of validation was almost judicial or legislative in character, with its emphasis on the painstaking review of each individual bit of potential scientific knowledge and, in turn, each bit's progress through a process of validation involving higher and higher levels of authority and consensus within the RCPA organization.
Why was this massive enterprise in the mobilization of scientific authority necessary? The proposal made an extended reference to the Virginia legislature's burning of Waddell and Haag's report (see Chapter VI) in this connection:In one State, recently, a report on the effects of alcohol was prepared by two scientists at the request of the State legislature. The report did not meet with the approval of special interests, which thereupon launched such an effective program of adverse propaganda that the legislature ordered all copies burned. In consideration of this experience and of the confused state of public opinion regarding the effects of alcohol, it seems especially desirable that further fact-finding be conducted by a large and representative group of scientists of unquestioned authority. It is believed that if a study is made under the conditions set forth above, any attack on its findings by special interests will not likely be effective (RCPA to Carnegie Proposal, 15 May 1939, p. 5, CCA).On 25 May 39--10 days after the proposal's submission to Keppel and within five days of the 2-year anniversary of the founding of the SCNCA--the RCPA finally landed a substantial grant. A Carnegie Corporation secretary wrote to Bowman that $25,000 had been awarded this project. As if to mute too great a reading of support into the award, however, the award letter's author also noted that "[t]he Corporation does not look forward to continuation of this grant" (Secretary to Bowman, 25 May 39, CCA).
The RCPA's 1939 annual meeting was held at New York's Pennsylvania Hotel in mid-September--little more than two weeks after the outbreak of war in Europe. In preparation for this meeting RCPA members were sent by Bowman (as Executive Committee Chair) a confidential announcement detailing the three grants that had recently been received and advising members of "an important change in the Council's program to take effect immediately and continue until the end of 1941." Bowman introduced his policy change gingerly. In his letter accompanying the announcement Bowman wrote thatat the annual meeting special attention will be given to a report of a committee on financial policy recommending the acceptance, for the Council's work on alcoholism, of contributions from individuals and organizations representing various and differing points of view regarding the use of alcohol (Bowman to RCPA membership, 7 Sep 39, LMA).The decorous and vague wording surrounding "individuals and organizations representing various and differing points of view regarding the use of alcohol" was Bowman's euphemism for Wets and Wet financial support. Bowman's announcement, however, only went part way in explaining to the membership what was going on. Because the Carnegie-funded literature review was now getting under way, and because its result and implications for future research would not be available until the beginning of 1941, Bowman declared that no new studies would be added to the RCPA's list of offerings for the time being. In fact, the announcement continued, "the Council has decided to concentrate its attention for the next two years on the disease of alcoholism (inebriety) and the alcoholic psychoses (alcoholic insanity)" (Bowman, Announcement, 7 Sep 39, LMA). Fourteen of the RCPA's current list of (by now) 35 studies "deal with these diseases," Bowman continued. Other studies on alcoholism would be added, as "these diseases represent the most pressing problems in the entire program" (Bowman, Announcement, 7 Sep 39, LMA).
Bowman touted the would-be historic significance of this redirection in the RCPA's direction of interest. "With the action just taken," he wrote, "[the RCPA] takes its place with other public health agencies now combatting tuberculosis, syphilis, poliomyelitis, cancer and other major diseases" (Bowman, Announcement, 7 Sep 39, LMA). Bowman's rhetoric was no doubt prompted by the felt imperative to give the group's new and exclusive focus on alcoholism and alcoholic psychoses an honorable sendoff--he cannot have realized, one assumes, that his words would become true beyond expectations. For Bowman and the RCPA Executive Committee in this action had--perhaps accidentally--stumbled upon the formula that would launch and define the modern alcoholism movement's focus and trajectory for the next half-century. For the moment, however, this strategic decision had been justified to the announcement's recipients in terms of the necessary delay the group had to face until Jolliffe's literature-review project would be complete. But such an explanation would hardly explain why the remaining twenty-one studies that did not focus on alcoholism or alcoholic psychoses were being put on the Council's back burner for two years.
That explanation came in a second circular letter from Bowman--this to be distributed to RCPA leadership and to the 38 members of the scientific committee--as well as a one-page report from the "Special Committee on Financial Policy," both sent by Moore to Wilbur. Bowman's letter (Bowman to Scientific Committee, 7 Sep 39, LMA) raised the problem of whether the RCPA should accept money "from those who have a bias and who represent some special point of view." The RCPA's experience had shown that financial support was very hard to come by. "Foundations presumably are not biased," wrote Bowman, "they are our best source of aid." Scientists were more or less free of bias, too, "but they have no money," Bowman candidly offered. "When we go to other individuals, there appear to be no neutrals. Every man seems to be either 'dry' or 'wet' to a greater or lesser degree" (Bowman to Scientific Committee, 7 Sep 39, LMA).
Bowman's letter then noted that reasons for accepting "funds from liquor organizations" were described in the special committee's attached report--that being the recommendation the committee had reached. Reasons against accepting such funds were detailed in the letter's next paragraph: "Such support might impair the value of the Council's work in the eyes of the public," Bowman wrote.The newspapers might criticize the Council for such action. If the results of one or more studies were favorable to the use of alcoholic beverages, it might be charged that the Council was influenced by the fact that liquor organizations had supported the work. More specifically, it is possible that investigations now under way may show that liver cirrhosis is not a primary effect of the intake of alcohol. What credance would be given to this finding (one might ask) if the rumor were circulated that the investigation was conducted in the interest of the liquor business (Bowman to Scientific Committee, 7 Sep 39, p. 1, LMA)?The special committee's report took the opposing view. The central argument it made was simply that although research on alcohol and alcohol's effects would be subject to suspicions if such research both (a) generated results favorable to the liquor industry's interests and (b) had been funded by the liquor industry, it did not follow that research on alcoholism would be similarly suspect. Indeed, if research on alcoholism were likely to result in findings favorable to either the Dry or Wet side, "in the beginning at least," the report offered, "the Dry side would probably be favored." Over the long run, however, such "progress as may be made in the reduction of alcoholism" would tend to help the liquor industry and promote the public's health. Focusing research on alcoholism rather than alcohol, in other words, seemed to cut the Gordian knot that had denied post-Repeal alcohol interests the willing flow of Wet resources.
Other points offered in argument as well. For one, the current RCPA policy of rejecting Wet support might fall victim to charges of reverse bias, favoring the Dry perspective. The RCPA had already accepted funds from Dry organizations and "[w]hile these contributions have not been large, they might indicate to the public that the council leans toward the dry point of view." Moreover, Wet interests had been pressing the RCPA of late for financial disclosures, and a statement of contributions could not be "indefinitely withheld." "If such a statement were released today," the report continued, "it would necessarily indicate that the Council has accepted dry money, but no money from those connected with the liquor industry" (Special Committee Report, 7 Sep 39, LMA).
The financial committee recommended that the RCPA "accept contributions from all persons interested in the problem of alcoholism." "As far as possible," the report continued, "a balance should be maintained between the support of wets and drys, but we do not believe that this balance need be considered in terms of total amounts contributed."A few small subscriptions from persons well known as drys and from prominent church people would imply the approval by such persons of the Council's two year program and its financial policy, and would justify the Council in accepting substantial amounts from persons connected with the liquor industry (Special Committee Report, 7 Sep 39, LMA).In short, the proposed policy not only allowed for the acceptance of Wet funds but allowed for a preponderance of Wet funding to be accepted so long as the process were properly managed and presented to the public. "[T]he problem before us is not one of ethics but one of expediency," the report noted.To put the matter bluntly, we are afraid of criticism. This being so, our problem is one of dealing with the public. In other words, it is a matter of public relations. Wise advice from those experienced in public relations work should enable us to avoid adverse criticism (Special Committee Report, 7 Sep 39, LMA).In the future, the report suggested, the RCPA would accept liquor industry money for alcoholism studies only and (to be on the safe side) would limit the entire group's research program to that problem area. The new focus would apply not only to the research supported by the Scientific Committee but to the Executive Committee and the "general office of the Council." Only a few minor exceptions would be permitted. Though the announced policy would prescribe this focus for activities to the end of 1941, the committee's report conceded that the time required "for the Council's work on alcoholism may be rather longer than shorter than the two and one-third years allotted." Both Bowman's letter and the special committee's report noted the support this plan had been given, even by initially skeptical or opposed parties.
Naturally, so radical a departure in group policy would need to be ratified by a number of parties and interests. The committee's report suggested prior ratification be sought from (a) the executive officers of the three foundations who had already granted funds to the RCPA, (b) "at least 80 percent" of the Scientific Committee, and (c) "[a]t least 80 per cent of those present at the annual meeting" forthcoming in September. Once the new policy was ratified, and seemingly on behalf of scientific candor, the following notice would be "made in small type but in a prominent place on the Council's letterhead:"The Council's program for the period ending December 31, 1941 will be confined to the problem of alcoholism. Alcoholism will be dealt with as a disease comparable in seriousness to tuberculosis, syphilis and other major disorders. In this special program the Council has the support of (various [scratched out]) individuals and organizations representing various and differing points of view in respect to the use of alcoholic beverages (Special Committee Report, 7 Sep 39, p. 3, LMA).No announcement would be made to the press of the new policy, but "as soon as adequate contributions are received from sufficently diverse sources, a statement of contributions" would be made available on request.
By 20 October 1939 Winfred Overholser (*5), newly-elected Executive Committee chair, could write to Wilbur that the new financial policy had been approved by the Scientific Committee. Thirty-seven of the committee's 39 members had voted, 31 approving, 3 opposed, and 3 "in doubt." (This worked out to approval from 83.8 percent of those voting and 79.5 percent of the full committee.) Perhaps in order to provide yet another symbol of the group's bipartisan character, a six-person advisory committee was nominated in October including notable Drys John Hayes Holmes and Wilbur, himself, as well as Wesley Sturges, Executive Director of the Distilled Spirits Institute (*6). Moore later wrote Wilbur concerning his (Wilbur's) nomination to this body:We seem to have succeeded in persuading the lion and the lamb not only to lie down together - if one may be permitted to use this expression - but to work together. Perhaps this may prove to be an achievement of some significance (Moore to Wilbur, 3 Nov 39, LMA).
The Carnegie negotiations harbored signs of an important shift going on in the RCPA's presentation of itself to potential funders. Particularly in Poffenberger's rejection of the earlier group's "ballyhoo and high-pressure selling" and "world-saving" attitude we can catch a glimpse of a transition away from Moore's roots and commitments in social activism and toward an alternative ideal of anti-activist, scientific neutrality. Not only had the group moved from a Dry-leaning to a neutral (or in some eyes, Wet-leaning) perspective on alcohol, but the SCNCA's original premium on finding means for re-raising the alcohol issue in public discourse was now replaced with a distaste for public attention.
The decision to accept Wet support would set an enduring but not wholly exclusive trajectory. A number of alcohol-centered (rather than alcoholism-centered) projects managed to remain on the RCPA's list of approved studies. Nevertheless, important consequences flowed from the new emphasis on alcoholism almost immediately. Givens and Breg--two of the Dry SCNCA's early leaders--soon resigned from the group, probably in protest (Minutes, Executive Committee, 10 Jan 1940, p. 1, LMA). Having made the decision to accept Wet offers of funds, the Executive Committee discussed new initiatives to "strengthen our constituency of 'drys'" (Minutes, Executive Committee, 10 Jan 40, p. 1, LMA), no doubt fearful of a potential exodus of Dry members. A tiny-print notice of the group's new direction was indeed added atop the group's name in letterhead stationery; it read:THE COUNCIL'S PRESENT PROGRAM IS FOCUSED ON ALCOHOLISM AND THE ALCOHOLIC PSYCHOSES. IN THIS WORK, THE COUNCIL HAS THE COOPERATION OF INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTING VARIOUS AND DIFFERING POINTS OF VIEW IN RESPECT TO THE USE OF ALCOHOL.In fact, the wording of this declaration involved the group in new controversy over the satisfactory definition of "alcoholism," which in turn decided the group to describe its new focus in terms of "alcohol addiction and alcoholic psychoses" instead (Minutes, Scientific Committee, 10 Jan 40, LMA). New letterhead was actually printed with "alcohol addiction" in the text, but correspondence shows that this term was scratched out and "alcoholism" either written in or typed in thereafter. A second order of stationery formally reinstated "alcoholism" in the declaration. Nevertheless, the decision to focus on the deviant or excessive drinker rapidly restructured the group's description of purpose and appeals for support.
As soon as 10 January 1940--in a Scientific Committee Announcement still defined in terms of "alcohol addiction"--the group was stressing the need for new energies aimed at improving the treatment of alcoholics. "The alcohol addict should be regarded as a sick person," the announcement read, "just as is one who is suffering from tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease or any other serious chronic disorder" (Attached to Minutes, Scientific Committee, 10 Jan 40, LMA). Both treatment and prevention would be targets of the group's new program--though prevention, the statement noted, was probably the more important of the two (no doubt a concession to Dry opinion). Both activities, the statement also concluded, would require "a vast amount of research" (Attached to Minutes, Scientific Committee, 10 Jan 40, LMA).
(*1) Namely, a $2,100 grant from the Dazian Foundation for Medical Research for a study of the role of alcohol in liver cirrhosis to be carried out at the New York University College of Medicine (Approved Study No. 6--Brochure List); $1,500 from the American Philosophical Society for a study of toxic factors in alcoholism to be conducted by the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Approved Study No. 3--around 28 Feb 39); and $25,000 from the Carnegie Corporation for a literature review, also to be carried out by the New York University College of Medicine (Approved Study No. 1) (Announcement, undated--7 Sep 39). A 27 Apr 39 attachment also lists $1330 received from the NEA, the Progressive Education Association, Thomas D. Thacher, Samuel Thorne, and others not individually named.
(*2) Gulick was Professor of Government and Director of the Institute of Public Administration at Columbia University; Clarke was chair of the Scientific Committee and Professor of Biochemistry at Columbia as well.
(*3) Scientific Committee member and Professor of Psychology, Columbia University.
(*4) Bowman's mention of Fleming is interesting because it suggests that it was not his (Bowman's) intention from the start to direct the literature-review project to Jolliffe at Bellevue and NYU. This comports with a comment Bowman made in an undated oral history taken by a "Dr. Reider," presumably many years later (LPPI). It should be noted that from a variety of comments by Bowman in this interview it can be concluded that his memory of the RCPA was not very sound. Nevertheless, the interview contained the following intriguing comments on the Carnegie grant (which Bowman, in fact, misremembered as coming from the Russell Sage Foundation):The 25,000 dollars was to be a study as to what was known and what was not known about alcoholism and what should be the field of research for the immediate future. When we got the $25,000, I was interested to discover that nobody seemed to want the money. Harvard, as I remember, didn't want it and several other places were offered it and I was finally told that I had better take it (Reider, undated, LLPI).(*5) Superintendent, St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Wash., D.C.
(*6) The other proposed members were Livingston Farrand (President Emeritus, Cornell University), Roscoe Pound (former Dean, Harvard Law School), and Robert E. Wood (President, Sears Roebuck and Company).