This special section of Earth Sciences History presents four papers from the Maury II Conference on the History of the Marine Sciences, held at Woods Hole, Massachusetts in June 1999. The common theme of the papers is patronage: how scientists obtained moral, financial, and logistical support for oceanographic work from the late 19th to the mid 20th century. Oceanography is an expensive and logistically difficult science. How do scientists manage to get oceanography done?

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