Charles Lyell Update

Thank you for your support or interest in the University of Edinburgh’s campaign to raise the funds to Save Charles Lyell’s notebooks.

There have been some recent positive developments. First, the Export Bar which expires on 15th July will be extended to a final 15th October deadline. Second, we have confirmed with HMRC (the UK tax authority) and other parties that a Private Treaty Sale for the notebook collection has been agreed. By arranging for the tax to be removed from the sale we have reduced the purchase price from £1,444,000 to £966,000.

With over 800 generous pledges and the University’s own contribution we have now raised over £610,000. The revised deadline and target make our ultimate success a very real possibility.

I look forward to keeping you up to date with our progress. Should we be successful in saving Charles Lyell’s notebooks we will be undertaking an ambitious access project to ensure the collection is as freely available and appreciated as we and our collaborative partners can make it.

Thank you again and best wishes,


David McClay
Philanthropy Manager, Library and University Collections

The Davy Notebooks Project has launched – Help us to transcribe the manuscript notebooks of Sir Humphry Davy

The Davy Notebooks Project has just launched on Zooniverse, the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research.

Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was one of the most significant and famous figures in the scientific and literary culture of early nineteenth-century Britain, Europe, and America. Davy’s scientific accomplishments include: conducting pioneering research into the physiological effects of nitrous oxide (often called ‘laughing gas’); isolating seven chemical elements (magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, strontium, barium, and boron) and establishing the elemental status of chlorine and iodine; inventing a miners’ safety lamp; developing the electrochemical protection of the copper sheeting of Royal Navy vessels; conserving the Herculaneum papyri; and writing an influential text on agricultural chemistry. Davy was also a poet, moving in the same literary circles as Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and William Wordsworth.

The notebooks selected for this pilot run of the Davy Notebooks Project reveal how Davy’s mind worked and how his thinking developed. Containing details of his scientific experiments, poetry, geological observations, travel accounts, and personal philosophy, Davy’s notebooks present us with a wide range of fascinating insights. Many of the pages of these notebooks have never been transcribed before. By transcribing these notebooks, we will find out more about the young Davy, his life, and the cultures and networks of which he was part.

All you need to contribute is a Zooniverse account – sign up today here. If you have any questions, please send them to, or post them on our Zooniverse Talk boards. Project updates will be posted to our Twitter account @davynotebooks.

26th ICHST: Important Dates

Please find the list of important dates for the 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, which will take place in Prague 25-31 July 2021, by clicking here.


Call for submission of symposia proposals October 1, 2019
Deadline for submission of symposia proposals April 30, 2020
Call for stand-alone papers opens May 1, 2020
Decisions on accepted symposia announced June 30, 2020
Deadline for proposals of visits and excursions November 2, 2020
Deadline for submission of paper abstracts within symposia November 30, 2020
Deadline for submission of stand-alone paper proposals November 30, 2020
Early registration opens February 1, 2020
Decisions on stand-alone papers announced February 10, 2021
Program (first version) released online April 1, 2021
Early registration closes April 30, 2021
Final date for registration July 5, 2021
On-site registration July 6, 2021
ICHST 2021 July 25-31, 2021


New issue of HoST — Journal of History of Science and Technology (13.1, June 2019) online

HoST — Journal of History of Science and Technology is a peer-reviewed open access journal, available online, published in English by De Gruyter/Sciendo, as a result of a partnership between four Portuguese research units (CIUHCT, CIDEHUS, Institute for Social Sciences, and Institute of Contemporary History).


Special issue “Before the Silent Spring: Pesticides in Twentieth-Century Europe”, with an introduction by the Guest Editor José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez, which presents a critical literature review framing the new perspectives brought by its four(*) research articles, namely by approaching chronologies (first half of the twentieth century), pesticides (before DDT) and geographies (Spain and Norway) that, in general, are not part of dominant narratives.

Introduction. Pesticides: Past and Present“, José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez
Influencing for results: Bees, Beekeepers and Norwegian Pesticide Legislation“, Anne Jorunn Frøyen
Following Hydrogen Cyanide in the Valencian Country (1907-1933): Risk, Accidents and Standards in Fumigation“, Ximo Guillem-Llobat
Arsenical Pesticides in Early Francoist Spain: Fascism, Autarky, Agricultural Engineers and the Invisibility of Toxic Risks“, José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez
(*) for unforeseen reasons, the fourth article of this special issue, by May-Brith Ohman Nielsen, will only be published in the next HoST issue: HoST 13.2 (December 2019)

An extended abstract of the Distinguished Lecture (CIUHCT) by Thomas J. Misa, about the new techno-cultural digital “era”, using the lenses of the history of technology to critically discuss the technological determinism present in some narratives on the Moore’s law, “Dominance of the Digital (1990–2016)

A “work in progress” by the PhD candidate Inês N. Navalhas about her on going work “Communicating Science and Technology. Gradiva’s Books of Popularization of Science and Technology and the Portuguese Public

Three book reviews:
Fascist Pigs: Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism“, Jonathan Harwood
La colonisation du savoir. Une histoire de plantes médicinales du “Nouveau Monde” (1492–1750)“, Laia Portet-Codina
Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good. From the Panopticon to the Skinner Box and Beyond“, Javier Moscoso

Iowa State Special Collections & University Archives new online public catalog

Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives is excited to share the completion of a National Historical Publications & Records Commission grant project. The two-year project, “Modern Tools for Modern Research: Migrating Old Finding Aids to a New AMS,” involved migrating legacy finding aids from Microsoft Word and HTML files to a new archives management system, which includes a public catalog to search our archival collections. The public catalog, CARDinal, is now available for use here.

Special Collections and University Archives is home to Iowa State University Library’s rare books, manuscripts, photographs, audio recordings, film, artifacts, archival records and other historical documents. Our collection covers a large range of areas, including agriculture and rural life, life sciences, engineering, technology, and Iowa State University history.

Additionally, we’ve created internal manuals for using SKCA which are available to other institutions looking to take on a similar project.

Please visit CARDinal, and send any questions or comments to

June HPS&ST Note

The June HPS&ST Note is on the web here.


  • Introduction
  • History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (HPS&ST) Research: Its Scope and Utilization
  • IHPST 15th International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group Biennial Conference, Programme
  • Lakatos Book Award 2019
  • IHPST Election Results
  • IHPST Latin America Regional Conference (2018) Abstracts
  • Proceedings of the International Congress on the History of Science in Education, Vila Real, Portugal
  • Structuring Nature: An Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Summer School, Berlin, 28 July – 3 August 2019
  • Journal Thematic Issue: What are the Philosophical and Interdisciplinary Foundations of STEM Education?
  • Scientific Literacy for All, Beijing Normal University, Oct.29-30, 2019
  • Opinion Page: The Two Darwins: Erasmus and Charles on Evolution
  • PhD Theses in HPS&ST Domain: Veli Virmajoki, University of Turku
  • Recent HPS&ST Research Articles
  • Recent HPS&ST Related Books
  • Coming HPS&ST Related Conferences

The HPS&ST monthly Note is sent to about 7,800 individuals who directly or indirectly have an interest in the connections of history and philosophy of science with theoretical, curricular and pedagogical issues in science teaching, and/or interests in the promotion of more engaging and effective teaching of the history and philosophy of science.

The Note seeks to serve the diverse international community of HPS&ST scholars and teachers by disseminating information about events and publications that connect to HPS&ST concerns.

Contributions to the Note (publications, thematic issues, conferences, Opinion Page, etc.) are welcome and should be sent direct to the editor:

Michael R. Matthews, UNSW,

If you have friends, colleagues or students who would like to subscribe to the list, tell them to send a message to: There is no need for subject header or any message; the email itself suffices for addition to the hpsst-list.

Michael Matthews

Campaign to Save the Lyell Notebooks

By James Secord

Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875) is well known as a key figure in history of science, particularly for his part in the Darwinian evolutionary debates and in convincing readers of the significance of “deep time.” During the past decade, Lyell’s geographical theory of climate and his subdivision of recent geological strata have gained renewed attention in connection with discussions of climate change and the Anthropocene. The Lyell archive is almost certainly the most important manuscript collection relating to nineteenth century science still in private hands. At its core are 294 notebooks, which provide a daily record of Lyell’s private thoughts, travels, field observations and conversations.

In order for the family to meet inheritance tax, the Lyell notebooks were sold to an unknown foreign buyer towards the end of last year. Fortunately, the UK government has imposed a temporary export ban to enable fundraising to purchase these remarkable documents, conserve them, and make them available on-line for free to the public. The University of Edinburgh Library, which already has the largest collection of Lyell material, is organizing the campaign. The website for this became active at the end of last week. The sum required is £1,444,000; major donors have already pledged more than a third of the total needed.

The temporary export ban has an initial deadline of 15th July, so time is extremely short. If significant progress is made, then it may be extended until 15th October. Therefore, all who are interested are asked to pledge a donation, which will only be collected when the required amount is achieved. For more information about the notebooks and to make a pledge, please click here.

If you can give anything to this campaign–even five pounds or a pound–it will make a big difference, not least in showing larger donors that there is substantial public interest and concern. It would be great if we can get the donor count over 1000.

Newly Organized Caltech-Huntington Advanced Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology

The California Institute of Technology and The Huntington, Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are pleased to announce the formation of the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Caltech and The Huntington.

Beginning in the fall of 2019 and continuing yearly thereafter, the research institute will bring a senior scholar in the field into residence at The Huntington to conduct research in the areas of their expertise, based where appropriate on both The Huntington’s extensive library collections and the Caltech Archives. In addition, a short-term visiting scholar will be invited to spend two weeks at Caltech and The Huntington to give seminars both there and at other locations in Southern California.

In the summer of 2020, a group of scholars will convene for two weeks to work together in a residential institute under the rubric of the year’s subject. The research institute’s second year will continue with a senior scholar in residence at The Huntington; a junior scholar appointed for a two-year term at Caltech; two short-term research fellows at The Huntington; two further visitors who will offer seminars; and another summer residential institute. The third year will see the appointment of another senior scholar; the recruitment of two additional short-term fellows at The Huntington; invitations for two visitors to give seminars; and a third summer residential institute.

Each year has a specific theme. In the first year (2019-2020), the subject will be the history of electrical technology, broadly construed, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Erik Conway, historian at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will be that year’s senior scholar, and he will also convene the following summer’s research institute in collaboration with the research institute’s directors. The second year’s theme will be the history of environmental sciences, and applications for the senior scholar in that field will be solicited in the fall of 2019. The third year will focus on the nature and development of early modern science, especially in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

See full announcement here.

New open access book: Science Policy Under Thatcher

UCL Press is delighted to announce the publication of a brand new open access book that will be of interest to list subscribers: Science Policy under Thatcher by Jon Agar. Download it free here.

Science Policy under Thatcher 
Jon Agar
Download free here

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, during which time her Conservative administration transformed the political landscape of Britain. Science Policy under Thatcher is the first book to examine systematically the interplay of science and government under her leadership.

Thatcher was a working scientist before she became a professional politician, and she maintained a close watch on science matters as prime minister. Scientific knowledge and advice were important to many urgent issues of the 1980s, from late Cold War questions of defence to emerging environmental problems such as acid rain and climate change. Drawing on newly released primary sources, Jon Agar explores how Thatcher worked with and occasionally against the structures of scientific advice, as the scientific aspects of such issues were balanced or conflicted with other demands and values. To what extent, for example, was the freedom of the individual scientist to choose research projects balanced against the desire to secure more commercial applications? What was Thatcher’s stance towards European scientific collaboration and commitments? How did cuts in public expenditure affect the publicly funded research and teaching of universities?

In weaving together numerous topics, including AIDS and bioethics, the nuclear industry and strategic defence, Agar adds to the picture we have of Thatcher and her radically Conservative agenda, and argues that the science policy devised under her leadership, not least in relation to industrial strategy, had a prolonged influence on the culture of British science.

Download free here.

International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology Newsletter

Click here to see the ISHPSSB’s most recent newsletter. Its contents include:

  • President’s Corner
  • ISHPSSB Oslo 2019
  • From the Nominations Committee
  • From the Membership Development Committee
  • Mentoring Groups on Professional Development at ISHPSSB Meeting 2019
  • Round Table on Historical, Philosophical, and Interdisciplinary Writing & Publishing
  • News from the Student Advisory Committee
  • Milwaukee 2021 and Call for Proposals to Host the 2023 Meeting
  • News from the Communications Committee
  • 54th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology (JAS-Bio) Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA