Vol. 43, No. 2, April 2014
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History of Earth Sciences Society
by Sandra Herbert, President, History of Earth Sciences Society; Greg Good, Treasurer; Warren Dym, Secretary
As scholars, historians of science have the advantage of an intellectual passport to the sciences as well as to the humanities and social sciences. The History of Earth Sciences Society (HESS), founded at a meeting of the Geological Society of America in 1982, brings together geologists (and other geoscientists with historical interests) with historians who focus on the earth sciences. The main goal of the Society is to provide an opportunity for publication. HESS publishes a journal entitled Earth Sciences History, which appears twice a year. The editor is John Diemer from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and our book review editor is Paul Lucier. Articles are peer reviewed and cover the full range of subjects in the earth sciences. One publishing advantage that the journal offers is the use of color images, which is important for reproducing geological maps and photographs of specimens. The online version of the journal is fully searchable back to 1982. We invite those writing in the history of the earth sciences to submit their work to the journal. A full listing of articles from the journal is available on our website: www.historyearthscience.org.
We also invite historians of science to join us, either as individual members, or through their universities. Membership fees range from $25 for student subscribers to $50 for regular individual subscribers ($65 for both print and online versions of the journal). Information on how to join is contained on our website. Our membership is international as is our list of authors and reviewers for the journal.
Historians of earth science tend to be a sociable group, and the HSS’s Earth and Environment Forum offers a convenient meeting place at the annual History of Science Society meeting. In Boston this past November the room was full and the discussion, led by Fritz Davis, was lively. Another place where such historians congregate is at meetings of national disciplinary societies. For example, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver in October, there were perhaps 50 historical papers delivered, and about the same number of persons attended the luncheon organized by the History and Philosophy of Geology Division. Societies of other countries also offer meetings, for example, the History of Geology Group (HOGG) in the United Kingdom. A third place where historians of geology congregate is at international meetings such as those organized by the International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences (INHIGEO). INHIGEO, whose president is long-time HSS member Ken Taylor, will meet in California this July, at Asilomar:http://community.geosociety.org/ INHIGEO2014/home/. For all of these groupsEarth Sciences History serves a purpose by offering a place for publication.
For interdisciplinary groups the question of fish or fowl is ever present. Is one more a scientist or more an historian? I shall never forget the chagrin I felt when offering my first paper at a meeting of the Geological Society of America. As I mounted the stairs to the podium the organizer of the session said to me, “your slide carousel please.” I turned to him and said, “I don’t have any slides.” I shall never forget the look on his face: dumbfounded may be the word. I read my paper thinking to myself: gosh, I really don’t belong here. Lest you suffer second-hand from my embarrassment in my recounting of the story, I’ll report that everything turned out all right in the end. Dennis Flanagan, the editor of Scientific American, was in the audience, and approached me afterwards with the offer to publish my paper, which he did, and with graphics. In any case, there are undoubtedly bumps in the road to interdisciplinarity, but the road is well worth taking. We invite you to join us on it.