David F. Channell’s (The University of Texas at Dallas) new book, A History of Technoscience: Erasing the Boundaries between Science and Technology, was published by Routledge in May of 2017.
Oxford University Press has recently published a second, revised edition of the survey textbook that Ruth Schwartz Cowan (University of Pennsylvania, Emerita) first published in 1997: A Social History of American Technology. Cowan undertook this revision with the assistance of Matthew H. Hersch, of Harvard. Together they have updated the chapters on automobiles, on aerospace, and on information technologies; they have also added an entirely new chapter on biotechnology.
Dr. Cowan retired from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been busy, not just with the revisions of the textbook but also with the sesquicentennial history of the National Academy of Sciences, a collaboration with Dan Kevles and Peter Westwick. She has, however, decided that she no longer wants to write the history of American women engineers that she and her late husband, Neil M. Cowan, began working on in the 1980s (with grant support from both NSF and the Sloan Foundation), and so has made arrangements to donate all of the research materials (which includes the tapes of several dozen interviews that they conducted) to the Chemical Heritage Foundation.
Surekha Davies’s (Western Connecticut State Univeristy) Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps, and Monsters (Cambridge University Press, 2016), has won the 2016 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best first book in intellectual history, awarded by the Journal of the History of Ideas, as well as the 2017 Roland H. Bainton Prize in History/Theology, awarded by the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference.
Time and Time Again—Determination of Longitude at Sea in the 17th Century by Richard de Grijs (Peking University) was recently published in November 2017 by the Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd., Bristol (UK).
Mott Greene (University of Puget Sound, Emeritus, University of Washington) received the Mary C. Rabbitt Award from the History and Philosophy of Geology Division of the Geological Society of America in 2016, and in 2017 received the Sue Tyler Friedman Medal from the Geological Society of London, for his biography of Alfred Wegener. In 2017 he was also elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Terence Keel (University of California, Santa Barbara) has received the 2017 Harold J. Plous Award. This is one of the university’s most prestigious faculty honors, given annually to an assistant professor from the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in research, teaching, and service. It was established in 1957 to honor the memory of Harold J. Plous, an assistant professor of economics. Terence has also been awarded tenure. He will deliver the Plous Lecture in the spring of 2018. Before becoming a faculty member at UCSB in 2012, he completed both his Master of Theological Studies and his PhD in religious studies at Harvard University. An interdisciplinary historian, he works on racism and its connections to modern science, religion, and political power. His book, Divine Variation: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.
“A Two-Ocean Bouillabaisse: Science, Politics, and the Central American Sea-Level Canal Controversy,” written by Christine Keiner (RIT College of Liberal Arts) has been recently published in the Journal of the History of Biology 50 (2017): 835-887.
Greg Macklem (University of Notre Dame) has taken the position as Math Content Director for Advanced Placement programs in the Center for STEM Education. The Center conducts and applies research to improve STEM teaching and learning for all students, especially students from underrepresented populations in Catholic schools.
Laura Meneghello’s (Universität Siegen) first book, a biography of Jacob Moleschott (1822-1893), was published in November 2017: Jacob Moleschott—A Transnational Biography. Science, Politics, and Popularization in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Bielefeld: transcript, 2017. Dr. Meneghello received her PhD in Modern History from Giessen University, where she held a DFG-scholarship from the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC). She is now a postdoctoral research and teaching assistant at the Chair of Modern European History of Knowledge and Communication of the University of Siegen. Further information about the book is available online.
Jahnavi Phalkey has been named the Founding Director of Science Gallery Bengaluru. Formerly based at King’s College London, Dr. Phalkey brings a wealth of experience developed at King’s College London, Imperial College London, Georgia Tech, Science Museum London, Deutsches Museum, and other cardinal institutions to the role. Science Gallery Bengaluru is a new gallery space that will produce art/science exhibitions and events that nurture a creative and critical appreciation of science and its relationship to nature and culture in Indian public life. The Gallery, which will open in 2018, is the first Asian member of the Global Science Gallery Network. It will strive to engage young adults at the interface between science and the arts, drawing on the intellectual capital of three of India’s leading research institutions: Indian Institute of Science, National Centre for Biological Science, and Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, which offer complementary areas of expertise. Read more about Science Gallery Bengaluru, Jahnavi Phalkey, and her plans for the future online. Dr. Phalkey penned the introduction to an Isis Focus piece on “Science, History, and Modern India,” in June 2013.
Greg Priest (Stanford University) recently published an article in the Journal of the History of Ideas, October 2017: “Charles Darwin’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, What Darwin’s Ethics Really Owes to Adam Smith.” Mr. Priest is an ABD student at Stanford, focusing on Darwin’s use of diagrams as tools to develop theories about the natural world.
This past November, Megan Raby’s (University of Texas at Austin) book, American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science, was published by Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. For more information, please click here.
Lissa Roberts (Univeristy of Twente) and Simon Werrett (University College London) have recently co-edited a volume that is now also available through open access. Compound Histories: Materials, Governance, and Production, 1760-1840 explores the intertwined realms of production, governance, and materials, placing chemists and chemistry at the center of processes most closely identified with the construction of the modern world.
David Schwartz’s biography of Enrico Fermi, The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age was published by Basic Books this past December. The publication date fell close to the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear chain reaction, located under the stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago.
Jeffrey I. Seeman (University of Richmond, Virginia) has won the 2017 HIST Award of the Division of the History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. This award is the successor to the Dexter Award (1956-2001) and the Sydney M. Edelstein Award (2002-2009), also administered by the Division of the History of Chemistry (HIST) of the American Chemical Society. The HIST Award will be presented to Professor Seeman at the 2018 spring national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Additional information about the award can be found on the HIST website.
Virginia Trimble (University of California, Irvine) has been elected to the Council of the American Physical Society to represent the Forum on the History of Physics.
Alex Wellerstein (Stevens Institute of Technology) was named the inaugural David and GG Farber Faculty Fellow in Science and Technology Studies by the Stevens Institute of Technology. The fellowship was created “to recognize and support faculty in the College of Arts and Letters who study and raise public awareness about the social impacts of scientific and technological development.”
Welcome Ryan! HSS’s New Society Coordinator
We welcome Ryan Feigenbaum to the Society’s Coordinator position. Ryan, who succeeds Greg Macklem who was HSS Coordinator for almost seven years, should feel right at home here at the University of Notre Dame, where the HSS Executive Office is located. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago and then completed his PhD in philosophy at Villanova University near Philadelphia (May 2017), both good Catholic schools. He will also fit in nicely with the history of science community, having written his dissertation on “The Epistemic Foundations of German Biology, 1790-1802.” Here, and in his other work, he drew heavily on our community’s research. He has also taught or served as a graduate assistant in a wide variety of courses, from “The Philosophy of Food, Sustainability, Place,” to the “Philosophy of Sex and Love,” to introductory courses in philosophy.
In addition to his educational background in HPS (and his memberships in HSS and ISHPSSB), he brings broad experience to the Coordinator’s position. He was a Mellon Research Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden, where he created a beautiful website on botany and poetry, titled Poetic Botany: Art and Science of the Eighteenth-Century Vegetable World. He was co-chair of Villanova’s Philosophy Graduate Student Union, co-founder of the Pennsylvania Circle of Ancient Philosophy, was a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, where he helped with conference organization, and his work in environmental philosophy is in an area of increasing concern for the Executive Office.
But what sets Ryan apart from many in the HPS world, and will be of particular value to the HSS, is his expertise in digital scholarship. In addition to the digital exhibition mentioned above, he is also certified in several areas of digital humanities, with training in computationally-driven text analysis and GIS (Geographic Information System). His web development skills include HTML, CSS, and content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, which is the framework for the HSS website. He is also experienced in digital media production, with expertise in videography, photography, and the Adobe software suite. As the transition from the print world to the digital world accelerates, Ryan will help us stay astride of this movement.
He will be the first to affirm that he arrived during a challenging time, mere weeks before the annual audit and the annual conference. Not only did he survive these Herculean labors, he thrived and is busily helping us plan for the future. Please do not hesitate to drop Ryan a line of welcome at email@example.com.
HSS and Programs in Toronto
The graduate students at Arizona State University penned a nice overview of the ASU faculty, students, and alumni who participated in the 2017 annual meeting. Personal experience suggests that deans and university administrators like to see their institutions represented at international meetings—everyone is encouraged to tout their programs.
THATCamp HSS 2017
By Charles H. Pence (Louisiana State University)
For the fourth time, the annual HSS meeting (in Toronto in November 2017) included an opportunity for scholars interested in digital approaches to the history of science to meet up, collaborate, and learn from one another. The 2017 version of THATCamp HSS was organized by Kate Sheppard (Missouri University of Science and Technology), Danielle Picard (Vanderbilt University), and Stephen Weldon (University of Oklahoma). “The Humanities and Technology Camp,” or THATCamp for short, is a unique variety of conference—an “unconference,” as the moniker goes—in which no agenda is set in advance and participants work together to craft sessions based on demand and interest. The focus of these meetings, found worldwide, is collaborative learning, with free-form discussion, idea sharing, and problem solving. Attendees with experience in particular technologies or techniques might lead a small working group to improve or enhance them, or form a breakout session for others interested in hearing about their work. Or the group as a whole might discover that we all have a shared interest or problem to solve and focus on it together.
The Toronto Camp saw three major topics of interest quickly rise to the surface. First, while many of us had research interests in digital approaches to history of science, finding a way in which to incorporate these methods into pedagogy is a persistently difficult problem for many of us to solve. To offer us one example, Kate described a solution she used for one of her classes. The educational arm of Wikipedia, the Wiki Education Foundation, has built an assignment aimed at using university students to edit Wikipedia articles. Kate used this assignment in one of her courses: the history of science in Latin America. The benefits are significant and numerous. Students learn how to write, cite, and avoid plagiarism, and are integrated into a broader community of Wikipedia editors, in part by taking a series of training courses on editing that has already been designed by the Wiki Education Foundation. Students select an article with a sizable “content gap,” and fill it by adding three to five hundred words of new material, as a large portion of their final grade.
We then transitioned into an open discussion, focused on other ways in which one might duplicate Wiki-style websites at your own institution, particularly with an eye toward providers that offer hosting for educational computing resources.
Our second main topic embraced the role of Linked Data in digital history research. Linked Data is a collection of technologies that can allow resources on the web—of practically any sort, from bibliographic entries, to descriptions of topic or content areas, to databases of correspondence or collections in museums or libraries—to be connected together. For example, in an ideal world, one might be able to query a list of concepts pertaining to the history of nineteenth-century botany from Wikipedia, cross-reference those concepts through a collection of scientific correspondence to determine a set of letters that make reference to botany in that time period, and then filter that list of letters using a biographical database to determine which authors or recipients were women working in continental Europe.
Of course, we live fairly far from this ideal world, and a number of us were interested in sharing current problems, hurdles, and future directions for Linked Data in digital history of science. Stephen, who in addition to being one of our organizers is editor of the Isis Current Bibliography (IsisCB), described the ways in which his project has worked to deploy Linked Data. The biggest challenge is in figuring out how we can connect multiple systems—a problem reinforced by Alison Pearn (Cambridge, Darwin Correspondence Project), who is currently working on a team developing a new project, called ∑PSILON designed to unify and allow for comprehensive research across the disparate collections of nineteenth-century scientific correspondence that are currently being published (such as those of Darwin, Henslow, Hooker, Faraday, and Tyndall). This requires, for example, that we be able to pick out authors and identify them as the same person across multiple letters, in multiple databases, prepared by multiple curators: are all of these “Henslow”s the same Henslow? This is precisely the kind of challenge that Linked Data should be able to help us solve, if we can manage the technical complexities involved.
We then broke for lunch, which came with two brief keynote presentations. I gave the first one. Since THATCamps tend to focus on digital tools and applications, I tried to encourage the group to think more holistically about the ways in which digital methods can form part of our traditional scholarship—both being driven by and driving our research questions. Digital analyses work best when the need for them arises organically from your current research program—focus on that first, and let the tools and data follow.
The second keynote was by John Stewart (University of Oklahoma), who discussed his work on open note-taking, inspired by work on open laboratory notebooks in chemistry. Shared archival notes, transcriptions, wikis, or blog posts can have an impact not only on our own work, but can assist other scholars and garner credit for work that does not merit formal publication. John has even had success engaging undergraduates in creating open notes, by publishing a website on which they contribute textual annotations on their primary source course materials to a database visible by the entire class, allowing the group to learn collaboratively.
After lunch, one small group broke away to learn about building WordPress sites to encourage public collaboration, while the bulk of the group continued with the theme of John’s keynote, discussing ways in which we might manage the voluminous notes that most of us seem to accrue in the digital age. This discussion primarily focused on inventorying tools that one might use to solve different kinds of note-taking problems. Reference managers such as Zotero can be incredibly helpful, as can (for larger projects like archival collections) library/museum online exhibit software, the most popular of which is Omeka. A newer project, Hypothesis, allows any page on the web to be annotated, commented upon, and discussed, publicly or privately. Finally, more traditional note-taking systems such as Evernote or DEVONthink can powerfully organize notes, documents, and research projects.
Of course, while these were our topics of discussion at this year’s THATCamp, the beauty of the unconference format is that any one of these might or might not make another appearance next year! If spending a day discussing digital technologies in the history of science sounds like something you are interested in, we encourage you to be on the lookout for next year’s THATCamp HSS. Session proposals are welcomed when you register—so if you have an idea for something that you’ve done that you would like to share, or something that you know nothing about that you’d like to understand better, float the idea as a proposal and others might have the same interest. On behalf of the organizers, we hope to see many of you next year in Seattle!
Gar Allen Wins the Sarton
The Making of a Historian of Women in Science: Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie at 80!
by Dr. Pnina G. Abir-Am, WSRC, Brandeis University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This was the title of our session1 at the Annual HSS Meeting in Atlanta, GA., (November 3-6, 2016) a session meant to celebrate our colleague Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie’s 80th birthday, as well as explore her career as a leading historian of women in science who began her professional life prior to the affirmative action legislation, (1972), or at a time such lives were still highly improbable for women.
I’m happy to report that the session was well attended, despite parallel sessions. Moreover, our session turned out to be a major success by any other criteria, such as an impressive diversity of colleagues: junior and senior, women and men, US & foreign based, and especially an amazingly rich discussion by both new and veteran colleagues. The session even achieved the ultimate accolade of being talked about in the “corridors of professional gossip.” Still, the rationale for such a session was not that obvious to some and the session’s fortunes remained uncertain for a long time, to some extent until its very unfolding. Therefore, the following reflections should be of some interest.
Beyond the obvious milestone of celebrating a colleague’s 80th birthday, the session’s rationale included the following: A) to reflect on the changing role of the biographical genre, of which Marilyn has been a major exponent—in the historiography science, and especially in that of women in science. Whereas outright exclusion of women as topics, as well as authors, has become rare four decades after affirmative action, still the topic of the history of women in science remains marginalized.2 Our session in 2016 reflected a surprising mainstreaming effect.
Yet another aim of this session was (B) to showcase the diversity of contributions to the history of women in science. When another HSS session (2007 in Washington DC) marked the 25th anniversary of Margaret W. Rossiter’s 1st groundbreaking volume of Women Scientists in America in 2007, we highlighted the institutional approach that Rossiter’s pioneering book and its later two companion volumes had so successfully pursued. By contrast, Marilyn’s scholarship reminds us that the biographical approach remains not only a big favorite with the general public but also has plenty of justification within the scholarly realm. Focusing the bulk of her effort from one biographical dictionary (1986) to another, (1999, in collaboration with Joy Harvey, see below) Marilyn had the good foresight to grasp that the cumulative impact of biographical dictionaries does not occur in the realm of knowledge only, but also in that of power. By its sheer existence, the genre of the biographical dictionary refutes the long persisting belief that there were always very few women in science (and hence it is fine not to know about them, let alone research them).
Yet another aim (C) was to learn from the specificities of Marilyn’s own career, which again are not widely known, to what extent her career patterns shed light on wider factors enabling and constraining scholarship on the history of women in science. As is the case with most women scholars, indeed most scholars per se, contributions to a new field such as the history of women in science,3 especially when done by new categories of contributors such as woman historians of science, tend to be easily overlooked. It was thus the burden of our session to convey to HSS at large that many gems can be found well beyond the societal obsession with celebrities and its related academic obsession with professional “stars,” whether those “stars” are self-propelled or engineered by patronage. Marilyn’s unfolding career as scientist, science teacher, science educator, and eventually archivist, curator, historian of science, HSS activist, and mentor to younger colleagues, illuminates the winding road to scholarship for women, as well as the art of survival in academia, often on its fringes, but eventually at its center; the recent naming of a research room in Marilyn’s name at the University of Oklahoma is a first of its kind for a woman historian of science, and possibly for men too. Becoming finally acquainted with the unexpected opportunities of a colleague’s career is illuminating not only for those of us who have enjoyed her collegiality for decades but also for junior colleagues who may find both inspiration and practical wisdom in the diverse choices that Marilyn made throughout her increasingly well-recognized career.
The session began with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt’s attempt to capture the professional context in the history of science in the 1970s, when the affirmative action legislation of 1972 encouraged women to pursue graduate education and academic careers beyond the previous confines of women’s colleges. As Sally, a founder of the first HSS Committee on Women in Science and main instigator for a HSS Prize recognizing contributions to the history of women in science (starting in 1987, or three decades ago!) reminded us, Marilyn faced a profession which, as befits its hybrid origins in science and in history, was slower than general history in recognizing women historians of science and their contributions; still, the history of science is better than science, which, in some fields to this day, has not fixed the many instances in which women scientists were deprived of their credit as discoverers, [e.g. a AAAS session on RNA splicing], not to mention discrimination in less lofty career aspects such as lab space, wage gaps, prize nomination, etc.
Joy D. Harvey described her collaboration with Marilyn on their joint biographical dictionary, a treasure for all those who research or teach the history of women in science. Their project was not only a labor of love but also an immense public serve to historians of science everywhere, and required that Joy drive to Norman, Oklahoma from Boston, Massachusetts. This long drive (1,700 miles/2,736 kilometers) is in itself a feat! Ruby Heap conveyed for us her passion for the lives of women scientists and engineers in Canada, especially those who were both scholars and science policy makers; Ruby also highlighted the impact of the early U.S. historians of women in science on stimulating new scholarship on Canadian women scientists.4 Kerry Magruder detailed Marilyn’s diverse contributions at the University of Oklahoma, especially her key role in building the history of science collection by deciding which rare books to acquire. Kerry’s superb slides acquainted us with both the professional and social dimensions of Marilyn’s career. My paper/presentation focused on Marilyn’s early scholarship on collaborative couples in science, included in Uneasy Careers…. (1987). Thanks to Karen M. Reeds’ foresight, a session on creative couples at HSS-1989-Gainesville, Florida eventually became the volume Creative Couples in the Sciences (1996).5 My goal was to emphasize Marilyn’s superb collegiality as Marilyn was among the first to contribute a paper and encourage my efforts in bringing together a critical mass of women historians of science in Uneasy Careers…. I concluded by reminding all of Marilyn’s outstanding presentation of her forthcoming biography of the ornithologist Marjorie Nice Morse at the 2015 Prague Meeting of the International Commission on Women in the History of Science, Technology & Medicine.
In addition, I wanted to draw attention to what I perceive as the most outstanding feature of Marilyn’s scholarship, namely the sheer diversity of genres with which she had experimented in attempting to capture the richness of women’s lives in science. Ranging from collective biographical studies—the most read genre by the general public—which Marilyn pioneered at the level of dictionary, (Ogilvie 1986, Ogilvie & Harvey 1999) to studies of collaborative couples (Ogilvie 1987, 1996), to popularizations of woman icons of science such as Mme Curie (Ogilvie 2004), to disciplinary and institutional studies at the mainstream of the history of science as a field.6 Now in her 81st year, and close to completing her biography of Marjorie Nice Morse, Marilyn remains a key contributor to the consolidation of the history of women in science as a vibrant and increasingly mainstream field within the history of science. The session concluded with a standing ovation, which reflected how much Marilyn’s career has meant to us. She was pleasantly surprised.
1. The session, which concluded with a response by Marilyn B. Ogilvie to each and all the speakers, featured Marilyn’s key collaborator Joy Harvey (as in Ogilvie & Harvey 1999) & her son Stevie Harvey, a NYC-based Egyptologist, who read the bulk of her text and otherwise ensured Joy’s presence at the HSS Meeting under heroic conditions of recovery from a stroke two years earlier; Kerry Magruder, Marilyn’s successor as director of the History of Science Collection at the University of Oklahoma; Sally Gregory Kohlstedt of the University of Minnesota, a former HSS President and herself a contributor to the history of women in science, among other fields; Ruby Heap of the University of Ottawa, a leading historian of Canadian women in science; and Pnina G. Abir-Am, who organized the session, is the recipient of the first HSS’s award for “outstanding research essay” in the history of women in science, and served twice as co-editor of Marilyn’s own essays. (in Uneasy Careers…, 1987 and Creative Couples in the Sciences, 1996) Margaret Walsh Rossiter, a former Editor of HSS, author of a trilogy on Women Scientists in America, (1982, 1995, 2012) and recipient of HSS’s dual award for best book in the history of science, as well as the best book in the history of women in science, chaired this session. (See attached photo of most of the speakers.)↩
2. As recently as 2015, upon reviewing a collection on innovative “outsiders” to science, which included no case studies of women scientists (only 2 out of close to 20 authors were women, but their topics did not include women scientists) I was castigated for pointing out these unfortunate aspects of the volume’s composition. A mid-career colleague was more upset that this exclusion by gender was exposed in a major journal such as Isis than that it was an outdated form of historiography; instead, this scholar tried to justify the exclusion of case studies on women by lashing at the reviewer’s alleged “lack of understanding.”↩
4. As Ruby mentioned, the late Marianne G. Ainley of Montreal, Quebec and Victoria, B.C. was a pioneering historian of Canadian women scientists who contributed essays to the above mentioned Uneasy Careers… and Creative Couples in the Sciences, note 2.↩
5. Reeds, an active HSS member, served at the time as Science Acquisition Editor at Rutgers University Press, and commissioned Creative Couples in the Sciences after she was impressed with a session on this topic organized at the HSS Annual Meeting in Gainesville, in 1989. Marilyn was of course the first speaker in that session.↩
A Gathering to Remember Sam Schweber (11/11)
By Snait Gissis
The above title was the one-line announcement in the general program of the HSS in Toronto.
A nice and spacey room was allotted for the gathering, and a special table was set up where all of Sam’s books, authored and edited, were exhibited (at the end of the session attendees were invited to take whichever books they wanted, and they did).
David Kaiser opened with a beautiful short speech about Sam’s work. I added a few sentences about the role of “the survivor’s question” in the way Sam shaped himself and his life morally, the significance he attributed to being Jewish, and how he viewed the recent history of Israel as the deepest tragedy of his life. Then it was open to people to come forth and talk, and they did—from all age groups, marking the different stages of Sam’s life as a historian of science. These included Diane Paul, Gar Allen, Bernie Lightman, David Kahan, Katie Park, Heidi Voskuhl, Al Martinez, Karl Hall, Olival Freire, Alexei Kojevnikov (who flew specially from a Chicago conference), Jessica Wang, and many more. They told stories, some of them serious, others humorous. The common threads running through all were Sam’s generosity, care and concern for people, his continued attempt to forge cooperation among communities, his readiness to share his vast knowledge and his insights, his support for young people—enduring yet relentless in demanding that they stretch themselves as much as they could, his deep and genuine intellectual curiosity, and his modesty.
He touched people in myriad ways. The day after the session many of the participants told me how glad they were of this opportunity to get together and voice these memories collectively.
I feel that this unassuming, straightforward and simple gathering fitted with the way Sam lived.