In this issue, you will find a description of the book review process in Isis; notes from a team-taught introductory physics course with a major history of science component; an overview of the wonderful resources available at the U.S.’s National Archives; a look at the different types of records at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia; a look back at the first 50 years of the Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology; reflections on a history of chemistry conference in Japan; a report on HSS’s committees, interest groups, and caucuses; and a touching remembrance of Mel Usselman.
The latest issues of Isis is available by clicking here. In this issue, editor H. Floris Cohen on his vision for the journal; “The Prehistory of Serendipity, from Bacon to Walpole,” by Sean Silver; “Building Networks for Science: Conflict and Cooperation in Nineteenth-Century Global Marine Studies,” by Azadeh Achbari; “A Drifting Concept for an Unruly Menace: A History of Psychopathy in Germany,” by Greg Eghigian; “The Invisible and Indeterminable Value of Ecology: From Malaria Control to Ecological Research in the American South,” by Albert G. Way. This issue also features a free access section titled “The History of Humanities and the History of Science” edited by Rens Bod and Julia Kursell, with articles by Jeroen Bouterse and Bart Karstens, Julia Kursell, Rens Bod, and Lorraine Daston and Glenn W. Most. It also contains news of the profession, two essay reviews, and many book reviews.
A new three-hour HD documentary series charting the history of chemistry from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century is about to be broadcast nationally on the PBS network. Entitled “The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements,” the program has been in preparation over the last ten years by Moreno/Lyons Productions, in collaboration with Middlemarch Films. The series features reenactments with actors working on period instruments and speaking words of the scientists whom they portray, woven together with host narrative, animations, and plenty of talking-head commentary by historians of science. Particular emphasis is placed on the life and work of Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier, Humphry Davy, Dmitrii Mendeleev, Marie Curie, Harry Moseley, and Glenn Seaborg.
From the beginning, producer Stephen Lyons resolved to create a product with the highest professional historical standards. He obtained funding from the National Science Foundation, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Otto Haas Charitable Trust, the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. He also sought continual advice from a galaxy of talent drawn from the international community of historians of science, including Robert Anderson, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Marco Beretta, Christoph Meinel, and Mary Jo Nye. Chief historical advisers were Alan Rocke and Eric Scerri, and among those appearing as commentators, in addition to Rocke and Scerri, were Michael Gordin, John Heilbron, Roald Hoffmann, Richard Holmes, Frank James, Steven Johnson, David Kaiser, David Knight, Seymour Mauskopf, Lawrence Principe, Susan Quinn, and Oliver Sacks. The feed from PBS national to all 354 member stations will take place from 8 to 11 pm on Wednesday, August 19, but affiliates may exercise the option to broadcast the series weekly an hour at a time on another schedule this fall. Check your local listings! – Alan Rocke
The American Historical Association and other scholarly associations recently issued a statement on academic freedom in Wisconsin. The HSS officers endorse this statement but the Society could not sign it due to the impossibility of gaining Council agreement in the short time span allowed.
The letter states that a “wide variety of disciplines are gravely concerned with proposals pending in the Wisconsin legislature that threaten to undermine several longstanding features of the state’s current higher education system: shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom.” Click here to read the whole letter on the AHA website.
If you had access to all of the data in the Isis Current Bibliography (IsisCB) for the last forty years, what could you do with it? If want to get your hands dirty for a day and play around with the IsisCB data, see what’s there, and what you can make it do for you, consider signing up for Hack-the-CB 2015!
Click here for more details!
The History of Science Society joined six sister societies, including the American Historical Association and the Philosophy of Science Association, in sending a letter to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau protesting the potential passage of a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in the state of Georgia. All of these organizations are planning on holding meetings in Atlanta in the near future, and the letter states that this legislation might precipitate moving the meetings to other cities where similar laws have not been passed. You can read the entire text of the letter by clicking here.
Early in 2013, the History of Science Society Executive Committee made a commitment to launch a structured strategic planning initiative to take on the tasks of reviewing the organization’s mission; agreeing on a vision; identifying and coping with changing circumstances; providing a framework of deliberate priorities to guide day-to-day decision-making and allocation of human and financial resources; evaluating performance and organizational effectiveness; and making a sound case for philanthropic support.
The 2013 annual meeting in Boston marked the first formal meeting for strategic planning. Much behind-the-scenes activity led to a planning retreat in Chicago, where 40 members of the HSS, from around the world, gathered to debate and discuss whom the HSS serves and, essentially, our raison d’être. The retreat members identified 6 goals that they considered paramount.
To view these goals, their objectives, action steps, and evaluation procedures, as well as the rest of the strategic plan, click here.
The list of books received in the editorial offices of Isis through March 2015 can be found at the Isis Books Received page here. Any books purchased through links on the Books Received page will help support the History of Science Society.
The History of Science Society has won a grant of over $200K from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Eight Societies Travel Grants for Graduate Students, Independent Scholars, and Recent PhDs” (SES-1354351). The award will provide travel assistance to graduate students, independent scholars, and those who have recently received PhDs who wish to attend the professional meetings of the following eight societies:
• the History of Science Society (HSS)
• the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)
• the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA)
• the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (HOPOS)
• the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH)
• the International Society for the Psychology of Science and Technology (ISPST)
• the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISH)
• and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA).