Davis (1896-1967) was President and founder of the American Documentation Institute (ADI), now known as ASIS&T.  He devised methods for popularizing the study of science in general.  He was editor of Science Service and Science News Letter.  He was also Director of the Science Clubs of America, which he saw as an “educational force for the future” (Current Biography).  The documentation division of Science Services was established in 1935 and was the nucleus of ADI, which was organized in 1937.  Through ADI, Davis sought to solve the problems “surrounding publication, bibliography, library facilities, etc.”

Glenn J. Seaborg, chairman of AEC, noted that “Watson Davis has done more for the popularization of science and the understanding of science by the general public than any other individual.”  According to Richards, Davis was “the pioneer microfilm enthusiast.”  Davis saw microfilm as “basis for a data and information revolution” (Burke).  In 1934, Davis attempted to create an ILL program- the Bibliofilm Service at the NAL.  He wanted to create a constantly updated world bibliography of science” (Burke).

Offices held:

Science Services: Secretary (1923), President (1933)

ADI/ASIS&T: President (1937-1946)

Watson Davis Papers:

Johns Hopkins University, Special Collections, Towson, MD (4.2 linear feet (10 document boxes), contains three series: correspondence, JHU material, and printed material (1912-1947), search under Mast, Samuel Ottmar, 1871-1947).

Smithsonian Archives, Washington, DC. (183 cubic feet, collections consists of documents recording daily activities of Science Service and Watson Davis (1910-1963), search under Science Service)