Three American presidents—Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover—celebrated Marie Sktodowska Curie when she visited the United States in 1921 and 1929. This paper analyzes the interpretations of Curie promoted by the presidents and Owen D. Young, the business leader and diplomat who, with Marie Mattingly Meloney, organized Curie’s visit of 1929. Focus on these men takes historical understanding of the visits beyond the lens of women, gender, and science, which since the 1970s has strikingly advanced but also somewhat narrowed study of Curie’s American significance. The men fit Curie into major concerns of the postwar period (including diplomatic tensions and immigration control) and core themes of their individual lives and careers. In major public addresses, they constructed Curie as a symbol of not only women’s ability to combine career, marriage, and motherhood (Harding) but also Polonia’s contributions to America (Coolidge), the universal calling to service (Coolidge), morality controlling science (Coolidge), pure science as the seedbed of applied science (Hoover and Young), and Polish-American and French-American bonds (all four men). Finally, the paper reconstructs Curie’s second visit as an act of service to Poland, motivated by Young’s promise of S50,000 for the Warsaw Radium Hospital and Institute.

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