July 2017 – News from the Profession

Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine

The Consortium is delighted to welcome the Adler Planetarium and the Society for the History of Technology as new member institutions (the HSS is a proud member of the Consortium).

The Adler, located in Chicago, is America’s oldest planetarium and the only independent planetarium in the world holding significant collections and engaging in science and history research. The Adler’s collections on astronomy and space exploration include astronomical and surveying instruments, astronomical texts and tables, as well as treatises on mathematics, optics, physics, astrology, geography, and navigation.

Founded in 1958, the Society for the History of Technology has been pivotal to promoting scholarship on both the history of technology and the role of technology in history. The Consortium looks forward to welcoming SHOT as it convenes its 2017 annual meeting in Philadelphia this fall, home of the Consortium.

Other Consortium updates, including news of recent and past fellows, working groups, and webinars can be found at https://www.chstm.org/.

60th Gathering of the Midwest Junto

The 60th annual meeting of Midwest Junto for the History of Science took place during the weekend of March 24-26, 2017 at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). After a Fridaynight reception, the Junto formally began on Saturday morning, where participants heard twenty papers by four faculty and sixteen graduate students over the next day and a half. As is typical for Junto meetings, the papers covered a diverse range of topics, including the social structure of Islamicate science, Soviet psychology, medicine in Project Apollo, the Indian Aurochs in nineteenth century paleontology, and archeological tourism in late nineteenth century Alexandria, to name a few.

The highlight of each Junto is the Stuart Pierson memorial lecture, which was given this year by William Newman of Indiana University. Bill spoke on the importance of Newton’s alchemical experiments and demonstrated some of Newton’s experiments, including the transmutation of base metal into “gold.” At the Sunday morning business meeting, President David Robinson (emeritus, Truman State University) announced that Sander Gliboff (Indiana University) would serve as President-elect for the coming year. The Junto is grateful to Sandy and the many IU graduate students for planning and hosting the Junto this year.

Peter Ramberg (Truman State University) longtime Secretary/Treasurer/Everyman of the Midwest Junto encourages everyone to sign “The Book,” which records the place and the attendees of every Junto meeting.

Peter Ramberg (Truman State University)
longtime Secretary/Treasurer/Everyman
of the Midwest Junto encourages everyone
to sign “The Book,” which records the place and
the attendees of every Junto meeting.

The date and location of the 2018 meeting will be announced later this year. For more information on the Junto and the Pierson Fund, contact the Secretary-Treasurer Peter Ramberg (ramberg@truman.edu), visit the Junto’s Facebook page, or see the Junto website.

Lone Star Historians of Science

The Lone Star History of Science Group held its thirtieth annual meeting on 7 April 2017 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The gathering was hosted by Professor Anthony Stranges of the A&M History Department.

Pictured Left to Right: Xaq Frohlich, Bruce Hunt, Abena Osseo-Asare, Anthony Stranges, Gül Russell, John Lisle, Steve Kirkpatrick, Victoria Sharpe, Shelby Bremigan, Karl Stephan, Sarah Jenevein.

Pictured Left to Right: Xaq Frohlich, Bruce Hunt, Abena Osseo-Asare, Anthony
Stranges, Gül Russell, John Lisle, Steve Kirkpatrick, Victoria Sharpe, Shelby
Bremigan, Karl Stephan, Sarah Jenevein.

This year’s speaker was Dr. John Tracy, director of the Texas Water Resources Institute, who spoke on “How Lead Gets into Our Water and Why We Don’t Want It There.” Weaving together history, chemistry, engineering, and public affairs, including reflections on the recent problems with lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, Dr. Tracy gave a clear and engaging account of how issues of water supply and distribution play out in the public sphere. After a lively discussion, the group headed off to enjoy dinner and further conversation at Paolo’s, a local Italian restaurant.

Each spring, the Lone Star Group draws together historians of science, technology, and medicine from around Texas to discuss their shared interests and enjoy a friendly dinner. Its constitution, adopted over dinner in an Austin restaurant in 1988, provides that there shall be “no officers, no by-laws, and no dues,” and the group remains resolutely informal, and all the more convivial for that. This year the group marked the passing since its last meeting of three of its longtime members, each of whom had served as the speaker at a previous meeting: Ron Rainger, Ian Russell, and Loyd Swenson. All will be sorely missed.

The next meeting of Lone Star group — its 30th anniversary gathering — will be held in either Austin or San Marcos in March or April 2018. Anyone interested in being added to the group’s e-mail list should contact Professor Bruce Hunt of the University of Texas History Department at bjhunt@austin.utexas.edu.

National Humanities Alliance Appropriations Update and New Advocacy Resources

On 4 May, Congress approved an Omnibus Appropriations package to fund the government for the remaining five months of FY 2017. In a significant victory for the humanities community, the bill provides $149.8 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, a $2 million increase over FY 2016. The bill also provides increases for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress. Finally, the bill provides level-funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays despite draft legislation in the Senate last summer that proposed slashing funding for Fulbright-Hays. These funding levels follow on increases or level funding for all of these programs in FY 2016. View a detailed funding chart.

These successes are a testament to the steadfast efforts of the humanities community, which included scores of op-eds and letters to the editor and hundreds of Humanities Advocacy Day visits, more than 150,000 messages, and thousands of phone calls to Capitol Hill offices in support of the NEH since January.

With FY 2017 appropriations now behind us, our attention turns fully to FY 2018, which we expect to present more challenges. In the coming months, the Administration will submit a full Presidential Budget Request—following up on a blueprint that requested elimination of or cuts to the NEH, IMLS, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and Title VI and Fulbright Hays— and Congress will draft a Budget Resolution. While we expect each of these documents to call for the elimination of the NEH and other programs, decisions on funding will ultimately be made in the Appropriations Committees. With noteworthy increases for most humanities programs in FY 2016 and FY 2017, we are confident that members of the Appropriations Committees understand the value of these programs, nationally and for their constituents.

That said, the dynamics surrounding the FY 2018 appropriations bills are likely to be different than the final negotiations over FY 2017 as the Trump Administration seeks to influence the process from the beginning. Accordingly, Members of Congress will be under increased pressure to follow through on the president’s agenda. It is crucial that all Members of Congress continue to hear from their constituents in case efforts to eliminate humanities funding begin to gain traction in Congress.

New Advocacy Resources

As we continue to mobilize for FY 2018, we have centralized our advocacy resources on two new webpages. We encourage you to share these resources with your members and colleagues, if that is an appropriate activity for your organization.

Our new Take Action page offers several suggestions for humanities advocacy, including writing or calling Congress, writing op-eds, and recruiting additional advocates on social media. It links to a variety of resources to facilitate each action item. Our new Advocacy Resources page consolidates several of these resources.

Teaching the History of Science

View the latest issue of the HPS&ST monthly Note here. The Note is sent to about 7,500 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 is also sent to different HPS lists and to science education lists.

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. It is an information list, not a discussion list.

The University of Illinois Archives, British Library, American Philosophical Society, and MIT Receive NEH Grant to Preserve the History of Cybernetics

The University of Illinois Archives has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a prototype web-portal and analysis-engine to provide access to archival material related to the development of the iconic, multi-disciplinary field of cybernetics. The grant is part of the NEH’s Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations program. The project, entitled “The Cybernetics Thought Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project,” is a collaborative effort among several academic units at the University of Illinois (U of I) and three other institutions that also maintain archival records vital to the exploration of cybernetic history: the British Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to supporting the development of a web-portal and analysis-engine, the award will enable the multi-institutional team to begin digitizing some of the archival records related to the pioneering work of U of I Electrical Engineering Professor Heinz von Foerster and his fellow cyberneticians W. Ross Ashby, Warren S. McCulloch, and Norbert Wiener. To learn more about the project, please visit “The Cybernetics Thought Collective” project website.

Carnegie Wins Grant to Preserve Notable Geophysicist’s Archives

The American Institute of Physics’ Center for History of Physics has awarded the Carnegie Institution for Science a $10,000 grant to organize and preserve the archives of scientist Oliver H. Gish and open them for research.

Gish was a prominent figure in American geophysics in the early 20th century and an authority in the study of atmospheric and terrestrial electricity. He was a staff scientist at Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington between 1922 and 1948 and also worked in academia, industry, and government research. His papers are held in the department’s archives.

Oliver H. Gish with his electrical conductivity apparatus for the Explorer II manned balloon flight into the stratosphere in 1935. Image is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

Oliver H. Gish with his electrical conductivity apparatus for the Explorer II
manned balloon flight into the stratosphere in 1935. Image is courtesy
of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

Gish conducted some of the first cosmic-ray research in the United States under Robert A. Millikan at the University of Chicago during World War I. At Carnegie, he designed and built instruments for the Explorer II manned balloon flight into the stratosphere in 1935. In the 1940s, Gish and collaborator George R. Wait led a pioneering, joint Carnegie–U.S. Air Force investigation of the electrical fields in thunderstorms using instruments mounted on B-29 bombers. He also contributed to our understanding of magnetic storms and the daily variation of the geomagnetic field.

Gish died in 1987 at the age of 103. His extensive files, containing five decades of his professional correspondence, research notes, instrument designs, and photographs, were donated to the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in 2015 by his granddaughters, Nancy R. Crow and Dorothy C. Crow-Willard.

“The Gish Papers will be a valuable resource for historians of science,” said Shaun Hardy, librarian for Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Geophysical Laboratory, who will lead the project. “Not only do they document the lifelong professional activity of a notable researcher, but they provide insights into the organization of American and international geophysics during the decades of its transformation into a modern discipline.”

The AIP’s Grants to Archives program supports projects to make accessible records, papers, and other primary sources that document the history of modern physics and allied fields, such as astronomy and geophysics. Its funding will enable Carnegie to organize and catalog the Gish Papers and to create a website to showcase Gish’s career and scientific contributions.

Eighty Years of Ambix

The Society for the History of Alchemy & Chemistry celebrated eighty years of its flagship journal Ambix on 20 May 2017 with a meeting at the Royal Institution in London entitled “New and Old Themes in the History of Chemistry.” The meeting closed with a reception and presentation to Bill Brock for his fifty years of service to the Society between 1967 and 2017, notably as Ambix’s editor (1968- 82), book reviews editor (1986-98) and as the Society’s Chairman (1993-2006).

New Blog Explores History of Atmospheric Science

In January 2017, Roger Turner launched a new blog at https://www.PicturingMeteorology.com. Each post begins with a compelling image and tells a surprising story about the history of atmospheric science, broadly understood. He translates solid scholarship into stories accessible to general readers interested in science and history. Recent posts have explored William Rehnquist’s brief career as a meteorological observer, whimsical cartoons about air pollution in the 1950s, and a debate about contemporary lessons we should learn from the potential Oxygen Deprivation Crisis of the 1960s. Several colleagues have shared wonderful guest posts. A new post is added each Wednesday.

Southern Studies Conference at Auburn University

Auburn University at Montgomery, AL, 9-10 February 2018
Deadline for submissions: 16 October 2017
Contact email: southernstudies@aum.edu

Now in its tenth year, the Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) Southern Studies Conference invites proposals for pre-formed panels or individual papers on any topic pertaining to the history and culture of the American South from any time period, including presentations on art practice, American history, the history of science and medicine, the history of art, anthropology, history of music, foodways studies, theatre, literature, and sociology.

Proposals should be emailed to southernstudies@aum.edu and include a 250- word abstract and a brief CV. The deadline for proposals is 16 October 2017. For more information, please visit the conference website.

VISTAS: 39th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth- Century Studies Association

Philadelphia, 15-18 March 2018
Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2017
Keynote: Elizabeth Milroy (Drexel University)

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the NCSA committee invites proposals that explore the notion of the vista in the nineteenth century. From personal gardens to public parks, from the street level to the top of a skyscraper, or from the microscope to the panoramic photograph, the nineteenth century was a moment when the idea of the vista changed from a narrow sightline to a sweeping, expansive view. How did theorists alter our historical perspective, broadening our notion of the world through science or religion? In what ways did power systems affect urban vantage points? How did man-made vistas reflect socio-cultural ideals? How did domestic spaces or nightlife transform with the widespread use of gas or electric lighting? How does the conceptual vista operate metaphorically? Topics might include horticulture, landscapes and seascapes, new technology, photography, sightseeing, film and the theater, urban planning, visions and dreamscapes, shifting perceptions of the gaze, or literary or artistic descriptions or depictions of viewpoints. In contrast, papers may consider the absence of vistas, such as mental or physical confinement or elements that obfuscate a view.

Please send 250-word abstracts with onepage CVs to ncsaphila2018@gmail.com by 30 September 2017. Abstracts should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and paper title in the heading. We welcome individual proposals and panel proposals with four presenters and a moderator. Note that submission of a proposal constitutes a commitment to attend if accepted. Presenters will be notified in November 2017. We encourage submissions from graduate students, and those whose proposals have been accepted may submit complete papers to apply for a travel grant to help cover transportation and lodging expenses. Scholars who reside outside of North America and whose proposals have been accepted may submit a full paper to be considered for the International Scholar Travel Grant (see the NCSA website for additional requirements).

AAAS and the March for Science

The following note from AAAS Chief Executive Officer, Rush Holt, was sent to AAAS members on 1 May 2017. It speaks to AAAS’s ongoing desire to promote science in our culture and expresses a hope that the enthusiasm demonstrated in the March will continue. The letter is reproduced with some minor editing.

Dear Colleague,

Tens of thousands of people in more than 600 cities all over the world recently came together to rally for science. But what, really, does it all mean? And what do we do next?

It is now up to the science community to identify the message within the cacophony. What are the concerns that prompted so many—scientists and nonscientists alike—to march? And—most importantly—what are we going to do about these concerns?

The science and engineering community must stay in the public square. We must run to the action and bring the evidence with us. We must continue to insist that evidence and not ideology be the driving force behind public policy decisions and in public debate.

And the American Association for the Advancement of Science is here to give you the tools to do this. Just last week, our board of directors launched a series of strategies to galvanize the science and engineering community.

Through our Force for Science initiative, we will:

  • Help you, our members, speak up on behalf of science where you live, work and worship—you can get started with a series of training exercises on Trellis that will offer tools so you can create your own public engagement plan and best practices for engaging with policymakers at the federal, state and local levels.
  • Make sure you’re kept informed of policy issues that affect science as they happen, through our weekly #AAASLive Chats on social media and through our weekly Policy Alert e-newsletter.
  • Build a center for scientific evidence in public issues to make sure decision-makers—from school board members to state government representatives to U.S. court judges— understand the science they need to know to make informed policy choices.
  • Lead a coalition of societies to ensure that the science community can move forward with one unified voice. The March for Science was a truly remarkable event, but there is much more to do.

AAAS has a responsibility—an obligation—to keep this unprecedented momentum going and channel it into effective action.

Rush D. Holt
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher
Science family of journals

Humanities Departmental Survey (HDS-2)

(Adapted from http://www.humanitiesindicators.org/ content/indicatordoc.aspx?i=457)

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences initiated the Humanities Departmental Survey (HDS), first administered in 2008 (collecting data on the 2007–08 academic year), to fill critical gaps in our knowledge about the state of the humanities in higher education; specifically, about the number of faculty and students in the field and the role of humanities departments in their institutions and society. Apart from trends in the number of students receiving degrees in humanities disciplines, data sources about the state of the humanities at the national level have fallen away over the past 15 years, leaving decision-makers without key guideposts during a time of change in higher education. The History of Science Society worked with the Academy of Arts and Sciences to include the history of science as a subdiscipline in the surveys.

With the 2012–13 survey (HDS-2), the American Academy provided information about two points in time for the eight disciplines and subfields included in the first survey (art history, English, history, history of science, languages and literatures other than English (LLE), linguistics, combined English and LLE, and religion). For HDS-2 these data were supplemented with complementary information from departments in five additional disciplines (classical studies, communication, folklore, musicology, and philosophy). While it does not supply trend data for these new disciplines, HDS-2 offers an informative snapshot—and important baseline data for subsequent studies—that, it is hoped, will enrich the national conversation about the present condition and future of the academic humanities.

The questions in HDS-2 covered a number of topics included in the original survey—such as the number and character of departments, the faculty teaching in them, and their students—while adding new questions designed to understand departments’ undergraduate assessment practices and to capture the ways humanities departments connect to the wider world through workforce training and the digital humanities.

The Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) worked with staff members at the Academy’s Humanities Indicators project, stakeholders from the scholarly societies, and funders at the National Endowment for the Humanities to revise the survey instrument and field it. As with the first department survey, AIP achieved a remarkably high response rate (over 70% for all but two disciplines). AIP weighted and tabulated the data, and has presented their detailed findings in a final technical report available in its entirety on this site.

To make the information as accessible as possible, the tables included in the AIP report are posted here in the topic areas indicated above, and also by discipline (view the report on the history of science here). For each topic, Humanities Indicators staff have also compiled key findings. These brief summaries, which include visual representations of the data, are available on each of the topic-oriented pages of the site. Alongside the summary reports, more detailed breakdowns of the results for each discipline are available. Many of these parse the data by Carnegie classification type and the type of institutional control.

Please do not hesitate to contact the staff of the Humanities Indicators project with questions or concerns about HDS-2 or its findings. Suggestions as to topics that should be addressed in the next iteration of the HDS are also warmly welcomed.

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship Program

Contact: Rachel Bernard, 212-697-1505 x134

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has announced the 2017 Mellon/ ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows. The 65 fellows were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer-review process. Now in its eleventh year, the fellowship program provides a $30,000 stipend and up to $8,000 in research funds and university fees to advanced graduate students in their final year of dissertation writing.

“The fellows are completing their degrees at 36 different U.S. universities, and their work represents the broad range of disciplines that this program supports, including literature, philosophy, media studies, ethnic studies, linguistics, sociology, and archaeology,” said ACLS Program Officer Rachel Bernard. The fellowships offer promising graduate students a year of support to focus their attention on completing projects that form the foundations of their careers and that will help shape a generation of humanistic scholarship. The program, which is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, also includes a faculty-led academic job market seminar, hosted by ACLS, to further prepare fellows for their postgraduate careers.

Find more information about the recipients and their projects here. Dissertations that may be of interest to HSS members include the following:

  • Tony Andersson (History, New York University)
    Environmentalists with Guns: Conservation, Revolution, and Counterinsurgency in El Petén, Guatemala, 1944-1996
  • Mohamad Ballan (History, University of Chicago)
    The Scribe of the Alhambra: Lisān al-Dīn ibn al-Khat īb, Sovereignty, and History in Nasrid Granada
  • Héctor Beltrán (Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley)
    Disenchanted Hacking: Technology, Startups, and Alternative Capitalisms from Mexico
  • Alex Hudgins Bush (Film and Media, University of California, Berkeley)
    Cold Storage: A Media History of the Glacier
  • Nabeel Hamid (Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania)
    Being and the Good: Natural Teleology in Early Modern German Philosophy
  • Joshua Hudelson (Music, New York University)
    Spectral Sound: A Cultural History of the Frequency Domain

The ACLS, a private, nonprofit federation of 74 national scholarly organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is central to ACLS’s work. This year, ACLS will award more than $20 million to over 300 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

NEH and the History of Science

On March 29, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced 208 new grants to support research, teaching, preservation, and public programming around the country. This round of grants underscores NEH’s crucial support for curricular innovations to bridge the humanities and STEM disciplines, programs that help veterans reflect on and share the experience of war, and community conversations that engender civic dialogue on divisive issues.

These awards come just weeks after the Trump administration released a budget proposal calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Department of Education’s international education programs, the Institute for Museums and Library Services, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

NEH’s attention now turns to Congress, which has the ability to fund these programs despite the administration’s proposals. The NEH has been heartened that these programs, which have been backed by presidents of both parties, have seen growing support in Congress in recent years. Indeed, over the past two years, Republican controlled Congresses have voted for increases for the NEH.

The NEH is optimistic that as Members of Congress take a close look at these programs and hear from their constituents, more of them will appreciate the importance of federal funding for the humanities. NEH, for example, reaches not only every state, but also every Congressional district, bringing high-quality cultural experiences to rural and urban audiences, preserving cultural heritage that would otherwise be lost, and providing opportunities for life-long learning for all Americans.

The NEH has already seen a significant outpouring of support from the humanities community, and the Endowment will be working to ensure that Members of Congress hear from their constituents about the impact of humanities funding.

The following awardees were identified as members of the HSS.


  • San Francisco
    University of California, San Francisco
    Outright: $315,000 [Humanities Collections and Reference Resources]
    Project Director: Polina Ilieva
    Project Title: Digitizing and Providing Access to Historical AIDS Records


  • DeKalb
    Anne Hanley
    Outright: $6,000 [Summer Stipends] Northern Illinois University
    Project Title: An Institutional History of the 1872 Brazilian Census and Adoption of the Metric System
  • Urbana
    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Outright: $49,973 [Humanities Collections and Reference Resources]
    Project Director: Bethany Anderson
    Project Title: The Cybernetics Thought Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project


  • Waltham
    Gesa Kirsch
    Outright: $6,000 [Summer Stipends] Bentley University
    Project Title: Legacies of Thought and Action: The Professional Networks of 19th-century Women Physicians


  • Omaha
    Andrew Hogan
    Outright: $6,000 [Summer Stipends] Creighton University
    Project Title: Changing Understandings among Physicians of Developmental Disabilities, 1950- 1980

New York

  • New York
    Leif Weatherby
    Outright: $6,000 [Summer Stipends] New York University
    Project Title: Early Digital Humanities: German Idealism and the Development of Cybernetics in the mid 20th Century


  • Austin
    University of Texas, Austin
    Outright: $97,491 [Humanities Connections]
    Project Director: Stephen Sonnenberg
    Project Title: Patients, Practitioners, and Cultures of Care
  • Houston
    James Schafer
    Outright: $6,000 [Summer Stipends] University of Houston
    Project Title: The American Medical Profession, Militarization, and the State in the First World War