Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine June Newsletter
In this issue:
- Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Issues in Science, Technology and Medicine
- Johns Hopkins University Joins the Consortium
- 2019-2020 Incoming Fellows
- Fellows Updates
- Collections Updates
- Support the Consortium
Announcing the 2019-2020 Fellows of the Beckman Center at the Science History Institute
The Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, at the Science History Institute (formerly Chemical Heritage Foundation) in Philadelphia, is pleased to announce its 2019–2020 class of fellows. For more information, visit the Beckman Center website.
Two-Year 80/20 Postdoctoral Fellows
- Rebecca Kaplan (2nd Year), Cain Postdoctoral Fellow, “Treating Animals: Veterinary Pharmaceuticals in the United States during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries”
- Ingrid Ockert (2nd Year), Haas Postdoctoral Fellow, “The Scientific Storytellers: How Educators, Scientists, and Actors Televised Science”
- Lisa Ruth Rand (1st Year from the Consortium of History of Science, Technology, and Medicine), Haas Postdoctoral Fellow, “Space Junk: A History of Waste in Orbit”
- Charlotte Amalie Abney Salomon (1st Year from Yale University), Price Postdoctoral Fellow, “Products of the Mineral Kingdom: Mineralogy in Sweden, 1750-1820”
Dissertation Fellows (9 months in residence)
- Sara Ray (University of Pennsylvania), Science History Institute Fellow, “Monsters in the Cabinet: Anatomical Collecting and Abnormal Bodies, 1697-1849”
- Alexandra Straub (Temple University), Cain Dissertation Fellow, “Making Pure Water: A History of Water Softening from Potash to Tide”
- Courtney Tanner Wilder (University of Michigan), Allington Dissertation Fellow, “Novel Impressions in Printed Textiles, 1815-1851”
- Donna Alexandra Bilak (Columbia University), Allington Fellow, “Trans-Atlantic Chymistry: The Letters and Library of John Allin (1623-1683)” [4 months]
- George Daniel Elliott (Brown University), Ullyot Scholar, “Alchemy in the Home: Colonial Connecticut and Household Science in the Seventeenth-Century Anglo-Atlantic” [2 months]
- Christopher Halm (University of Regensburg), Doan Fellow, “Marl and Soil Analyses in the Early History of Agricultural Chemistry” [4 months]
- Elizabeth Neswald (Brock University), Doan Fellow, “Material Culture and Practices of Diabetes Management in the Twentieth Century” [2 months]
- Cristina Marie Nigro (University of California, San Francisco), Doan Fellow, “The Active Brain – A history of the electrophysiological and molecular study of cognition in the 20th century” [1 month]
- Tristan Edward Revells (Columbia University), Mistry Fellow, “From Bad Booze to Biofuel – Alcohol, Global Standards, and China’s First Alternative Energy Industry (1892-1946)” [2 months]
- Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University), Seidel Fellow, “Dangerous Exposures: Work and Waste in the Victorian Chemical Trade” [1 month]
CFP: Special Issue on Ethnobiology in Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Ethnobiology—Perspectives from History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
David Ludwig and Francisco Vergara-Silva (eds.)
Ethnobiology is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of biological and social sciences that studies knowledge systems and practices of Indigenous, traditional, and other local communities. The complexity of biological expertise beyond academia raises both theoretical and normative questions about knowledge diversity in biological and environmental research. First, there are epistemological and ontological questions about different ways of producing, organizing, and validating biological knowledge. Second, there are ethical and political questions about the role of different knowledge systems in shaping policies and practices. Despite these complex theoretical and normative issues, ethnobiology currently lacks integration with debates in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS) more generally. This special issue aims to synthesize these academic discourses and thereby develop an agenda for history, philosophy, and social studies of ethnobiology. We invite contributions that address questions such as:
- How does research on local biological knowledge relate to philosophical debates about expertise, knowledge diversity, and standpoint theory?
- How do cross-cultural similarities between biological epistemologies, ontologies, and values contribute to debates about issues such as cognitive universals, natural kinds, and ontological realism?
- How do cross-cultural differences between biological epistemologies, ontologies, and values contribute to debates about issues such as incommensurability, social construction, and relativism?
- How are biological knowledge systems and environmental practices related to wider intellectual traditions such as Buddhist, Buen Vivir, or Ubuntu philosophies?
- How does local knowledge interact with normative questions about epistemic injustice and the political ecology of bioprospecting, traditional medicine, climate injustice, food sovereignty, forest conservation, and so on?
- How did ethnobiology become institutionalized as an academic field and what historical factors have shaped its agendas?
- How does the relatively short history of institutionalized ethnobiology relate to the long history of interactions between academic biologists and local experts?
- How do they relate to (anti-)colonial histories of botany from the British Raj to the Dutch West Indies?
- What does ethnobiology mean for life sciences in the “Global South” and how does the field challenge hierarchies between geographic centers and peripheries of biological research?
- What is the contribution of ethnobiology to wider debates about participatory research, responsible innovation, inclusive policy, and public engagement with science?
Please submit an abstract of max. 500 words until 20 July 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We will invite full papers by 1 August 2019 and the deadline for full papers is 1 November 2019. Full papers will have to follow the general Guide for Authors of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
ARTEFACTS Volume “Behind the Exhibit”
The ARTEFACTS volume “Behind the Exhibit” edited by Elena Canadelli, Marco Beretta, and Laura Ronzon is finally on-line on the publisher’s website. You can download the book. Print copies also available.
For further information, contact:
Elena Canadelli, PhD
Assistant Professor in History of Science (Dept. of History) and Naturalistic Museology (Dept. of Biology)
University of Padua – Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World (DiSSGeA)
Via del Vescovado 30
35141 – Padova (Italy)
“Women Untold” Documentary
SOUTHFIELD—A team of students in Lawrence Technological University’s media communication program has produced a half-hour documentary film on previously little-known contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by three women of color in the early and mid-20th century.
“Women Untold” traces the lives and accomplishments of three women of color in STEM: Jewel Plummer Cobb, a cancer research pioneer and later university administrator and president; Alice Augusta Ball, who developed a groundbreaking treatment for leprosy; and Evelyn Boyd Granville, a mathematician for IBM and NASA who contributed to space missions of the 1960s.
Notes and Records Special Issue
Notes and Records, the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, published a special issue organized and edited by Simon Schaffer and Simon Naylor titled “Nineteenth-century survey sciences: Enterprises, expeditions and exhibitions.”
This special issue co-ordinates a newly comparative and synthetic approach to some of the principal early nineteenth-century survey sciences prosecuted by British practitioners, including geomagnetism, geographical exploration, navigation, meteorology and the survey of imperial possessions. The essays attend to the conduct of large-scale nineteenth-century surveys across a range of domestic and overseas regions, at sea, on land and in the atmosphere. The issue significantly integrates important issues of the museology and contemporary and modern exhibitions of the material culture of survey sciences with close historical analysis of the hardware and personnel involved in the surveys. The issue was published online in May 2019 and is available here.
- Introduction, Simon Naylor and Simon Schaffer
- Hand in hand with the survey: surveying and the accumulation of knowledge capital at India House during the Napoleonic Wars, Jessica Ratcliff
- Cetacean citations and the covenant of iron, Jenny Bulstrode
- Follow the data: administering science at Edward Sabine’s magnetic department, Woolwich, 1841-1857, Matthew Joseph Goodman
- Thermometer screens and the geographies of uniformity in nineteenth-century meteorology, Simon Naylor
- Instrument provision and geographical science: the work of the Royal Geographical Society, 1830–c. 1930, Charles Withers and Jane Wess
- Geomagnetic instruments at National Museums Scotland, Alison Morrison-Low
- Survey stories in the history of British polar exploration: museums, objects and people, Charlotte Connelly and Claire Warrior
Purchase print issue for £35. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of Science and Technology Hub at the University of Warwick, UK
We’re delighted to announce the launch of the History of Science and Technology Hub at the University of Warwick, UK.
The University of Warwick has a wealth of expertise in the history of science and technology. We cover the full range of scientific disciplines, from physics to anthropology to economics, as well as the technologies associated with them. Our teaching and research in this area is distinctive. It links up the history of scientific theories with wider historical phenomena such as war, religion, globalization, ideology, social and environmental change, and the rise and fall of states and empires. This work is integrated into various projects in the History Department and is connected to other Warwick research centres in the sciences, humanities and social sciences.
The History of Science and Technology Hub is a portal to the people, teaching, research and events related to the history of science and technology at Warwick.
May HPS&ST Note
- International Congress on the History of Science in Education, May 30–June 1, 2019, Vila Real, Portugal
- 15th International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group (IHPST) Biennial Conference, Thessaloniki, July 15–19, 2019
- epiSTEME 8, January 3–6, 2020, Mumbai, India
- Structuring Nature: An Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Summer School, Berlin, 28 July–3 August 2019
- New Editor of Science & Education Journal
- University of Pittsburgh HPS Programme and Events
- Scientific Literacy for All, Beijing Normal University, Oct. 29–30, 2019
This 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 is also sent to different HPS lists and to science education lists. It is an information list, not a discussion list.
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, email@example.com
Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science Hosts Workshop on Decolonizing History of Science
What might it mean to decolonize the history of science? Several emerging leaders of the field, and many graduate students, have been seeking answers to this question. On April 12 and 13, the Department of the History of Science, with the support of the Gough Whitlam and Malcom Fraser Chair of Australian Studies and Harvard’s Indigenous Studies Program, hosted a workshop examining various “postcolonial” and “decolonial” approaches to remaking the history of science, as well as science and technology studies (STS). Organizers Gabriela Soto Laveaga and Warwick Anderson brought together some twenty-five scholars from North America and Australasia and the Pacific, many of them Indigenous researchers, for a productive two days of vigorous conversation, trying to imagine a decolonized future for our field. Harvard graduate students actively shaped these discussions, challenging many of our preconceptions. One of the highlights was Philip Deloria’s launch of Pacific Futures: Past and Present (Hawaii, 2018), edited by Warwick Anderson, Miranda Johnson, Barbara Brookes, a collection of essays that explores other modes of doing history. The Department of the History of Science is committed to continuing and expanding these critical inquiries.
The Midwest Junto Returns to Kansas City
by Benjamin Gross, Vice President for Research and Scholarship, Linda Hall Library for Science, Engineering & Technology
The Linda Hall Library for Science, Engineering & Technology hosted the 62nd annual meeting of the Midwest Junto for the History of Science during the weekend of 12-14 April 2019. The gathering marked a homecoming of sorts for America’s oldest regional history of science organization, which held its inaugural conference in Kansas City and Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas) in the spring of 1958. The Junto has returned to the Linda Hall Library several times since then, and in each instance, we have been pleased to provide a congenial forum for graduate students and established historians of science to present their latest research.
The 2019 Junto meeting began on Friday afternoon with an introductory tour, which provided background information about the history of the Linda Hall Library and an overview of its collections. Visitors gathered around the Library’s malachite tazza, an ornamental bowl in the center of the main reading room, to learn about Kansas City businessman Herbert Hall and his wife, Linda. The Halls were prominent members of Kansas City society, who had supported a wide range of philanthropic causes throughout their lives. In a final act of civic generosity, their wills stipulated that their fortune should be used to establish a “free public library for the use of the people of Kansas City and the public generally.”
The terms of the Halls’ bequest specified that the new library should be established on the grounds of their estate and named after Linda, but the choice of collecting focus was left to the first board of trustees. Following conversations with community leaders, the board concluded that Kansas City would benefit from the presence of a science and technology library. In May 1946, they purchased the library of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which formed the foundation for the Linda Hall Library’s subsequent collecting activity. Since then, the Library has remained committed to preserving print material related to science, engineering, technology, and their histories. Today its collections contain over 1.2 million volumes, including over 300,000 monographs and 43,000 journal titles.
The scale of these collections became more apparent when the tour moved from the reading room into the Library’s closed stacks, which feature 40 miles worth of shelving. Junto attendees had the chance to visit to the History of Science Collection, which houses 50,000 rare books dating from the 15th century to the present. Vice President for Special Collections Jason W. Dean showcased several recent acquisitions, including Jane Squire’s A Proposal to Determine Our Longitude (1743), a 19th-century American astronomical manuscript, and a biographical sketch of Rosalind Franklin written by her mother, Muriel. After the rare book presentation, guests relocated to a restaurant in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood for a happy hour reception.
The formal Junto program began on Saturday morning in the Linda Hall Library auditorium. Lisa Browar, the Library’s president, welcomed the nearly fifty people in attendance. There were six paper sessions on Saturday and two more on Sunday. As is Junto custom, the speakers covered a wide range of topics, including same-sex couples in the history of archaeology, seismology in colonial India, and the origins of bicycle motocross (BMX). Between Saturday’s sessions, Junto participants visited the Library’s exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (To the Moon: The Science of Apollo) and enjoyed coffee breaks sponsored by the UMKC Department of History and the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
At the end of the afternoon, everyone posed for a group photograph before heading to a local Italian restaurant for the annual Junto banquet. The highlight of the evening was the Stuart Pierson Memorial Lecture, which was delivered by molecular biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado. In his presentation, “Animal Regeneration and the Evolution of Thought in Biology,” Sánchez Alvarado traced the genealogy of experimental biology from Abraham Trembley’s experiments on polyps to his own investigations of planaria at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.
The first group of Sunday’s papers focused on pedagogy and historiography, while the second explored debates over scientific authority from the 18th century until the present. Before the final session, there was a coffee break sponsored in honor of Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, the 2018 winner of HSS’s Sarton Medal, followed by the Junto’s annual business meeting. President Sander Gliboff (Indiana University) announced that Benjamin Gross (Linda Hall Library) would serve as president for the next year. Peter Ramberg (Truman State University) accepted the position of president-elect, while Kathleen Sheppard (Missouri S&T) remained in office as secretary-treasurer. The Junto council keeps Kerry Magruder (University of Oklahoma) for another year and welcomes Dana Tulodziecki (Purdue University) for a two-year appointment. The date and location of the 2020 Junto will be announced later this year.
In the end, the 2019 meeting of the Midwest Junto was a great success thanks to our speakers, panel chairs, the Junto officers, and above all, the staff of the Linda Hall Library, who made sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes. This year’s program, along with those from previous meetings, is available on the Junto website (https://midwestjunto.wordpress.com/).
Lone Star Historians of Science 32nd Annual Meeting
Continuing a tradition that has now been running far longer than its founders would have ever imagined, the Lone Star History of Science Group held its thirty-second annual meeting on 5 April 2019 at the University of Texas in Austin. The gathering was hosted by Bruce Hunt of the UT History Department, who also served as this year’s speaker.
In his talk, “To Rule the Waves: Britain’s Cable Empire and the Making of ‘Maxwell’s Equations,’” Professor Hunt examined how and why the iconic set of vector equations of the electromagnetic field now known as “Maxwell’s equations” came to be formulated in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century, and why the equations were in fact cast into their most familiar form not by James Clerk Maxwell, but by Oliver Heaviside. He argued that to understand these developments, we must look to the demands and opportunities presented by the global network of submarine telegraph cables that came to form the “nervous system” of the British Empire in the late Victorian era, and used this case to make some broader points about the relationship between science and technology. After a lively discussion, the group headed off to enjoy dinner and further conversation at the nearby Clay Pit Indian restaurant.
Each spring, the Lone Star Group brings together historians of science, technology, and medicine from around Texas to discuss their shared interests and enjoy a friendly dinner. Its constitution, adopted at an Austin restaurant in 1988, provides that there shall be “no officers, no by-laws, and no dues,” and the group remains resolutely informal. The next Lone Star meeting will be hosted by Professor Anthony Stranges at Texas A&M University in College Station in April 2020. Anyone wishing to be added to the group’s mailing list (and that’s all it takes to become a member in good standing) should contact Bruce Hunt of the University of Texas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
54th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology (JAS-Bio)
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
On 30 March 2019, over forty-five historians of biology convened at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA, for the 54th Annual Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Biology (JAS-Bio). The conference has a long history of fostering collegiality, professional contacts, and a friendly environment where early-career scholars may present their work. This year was no exception, with the weather cooperating for a highly successful seminar.
This year’s meeting included five sessions. The first, “Sugar and Kitchens: Consumers and Biology in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries,” explored how the histories of both artificial sweeteners and bacteriology proved deeply intertwined with developments in the law, public health, and domestic life during the US Progressive and interwar periods. The second session, “Finding Meaning in the Small Stuff,” brought together the histories of ethology, metabolism, and botany with cultural and feminist approaches, exploring the manifold scientific meanings taken on by “small” entities, from bees to bacteria to plants, in the 20th-century life sciences. The third session, “Knowledge Claims and Epistemic Persuasion,” kicked off the afternoon. The speakers employed analyses of material, video, and archival sources to explore how racial illustrations in cranial collections, sociobiological research and rhetoric, and radiation-damaged chromosomes have historically taken on powerful, poignant epistemological valances, from eighteenth-century phrenology through the Cold War. The speakers in the fourth session, “Genes and the Present: Ways of Knowing in Molecular Biology,” adopted a more present-oriented approach, exploring how re-creating evolution in laboratory settings can help scholars to re-assess the historical roles played by technologies in molecular biology, and how STS approaches might inform key science policy questions and such real-world translations of these policies as in control of invasive species. Finally, due to popular demand, the seminar ended with an hour-long workshop on computational methods.
Kate MacCord (MBL) and Kathryn Maxson Jones (Princeton University and MBL) organized the conference. Funding was generously provided by the MBL McDonnell Initiative, courtesy of the James S. McDonnell Foundation. The 2019 coordinators would like to warmly thank all who participated, including the speakers and the attendees, who this year came from places much farther away from the meeting’ usual geographical reach; the MBL’s events and dining staff; and finally the McDonnell Foundation for making such a productive and enjoyable event possible. The 55th Annual JAS-Bio will take place in 2020 at the Johns Hopkins University. For more information, please contact Sharon Kingsland (email@example.com).
—Kathryn Maxson Jones & Kate MacCord
New Books in Science Seeking Podcast Hosts
New Books in Science is currently seeking hosts interested in conducting interviews with authors of new books on science and the history of science. Hosting the channel is a good way to bring the work of scholars of science to the attention of large audiences. Interested parties should write Marshall Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Books in Science is part of the New Books Network, a non-profit consortium of 84 author-interview podcasts focused on academic books. The NBN serves one million episodes a month to a worldwide audience. Its mission is outreach and public education.
ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Fellows
The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the 2019 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows. The 67 fellows, who hail from 42 US universities, comprise one of the most institutionally diverse cohorts in the history of this fellowship. They were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants through multiple stages of peer review. Now in its thirteenth year, the fellowship program offers promising graduate students one year of funding so that they can focus their attention on completing projects that form the foundations of their scholarly careers.
“The innovative research undertaken by our Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows represents the future of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences,” said ACLS program officer Valerie Popp. “The fellows’ work spans a broad range of time periods, geographic regions, and disciplines, including philosophy, literature, gender studies, music, history, and sociology. Amid such diverse research topics, several notable themes emerged this year, including the study of carceral states; the exploration of connections among culture, politics, and ecological change; and a focus on labor in communities around the world.”
The fellowship 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 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.
Fellows in disciplines pertaining to the history of science, technology, or medicine are listed below:
- David E. Dunning (History, Princeton University) Writing the Rules of Reason: Notations in Mathematical Logic, 1847-1937
- Poyao Huang (Communication and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego) Becoming HIV Negative on PrEP: The Material Culture of HIV Medicine and Gay Taiwanese Men’s Sexual Health
- Hyeok Hweon Kang (East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University) A Hundred Crafts: Technology, Knowledge, and the Military in Late Chosŏn Korea, 1592-1910
- Charles A. Kollmer (History of Science, Princeton University) From Elephant to Bacterium: Microbes, Microbiologists, and the Chemical Order of Nature
- Renee Shelby (History and Sociology, Georgia Institute of Technology) Designing Justice: Sexual Violence, Technology, and Citizen-Activism
- Chelsea Rae Silva (English, University of California, Riverside) Bedwritten: Middle English Medicine and the Ailing Author
- Zina B. Ward (History & Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh) Individual Differences in Cognitive Science: Conceptual, Methodological, and Ethical Issues
- Rachel Q. Welsh (History, New York University) Proof in the Body: Ordeal, Justice, and the Physical Manifestation of Proof in Medieval Iberia, ca. 1050-1300
- Daniel J. Williford (History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) Concrete Futures: Technologies of Urban Crisis in Colonial and Postcolonial Morocco
- Farren Yero (History, Duke University) Laboratories of Consent: Vaccine Science in the Spanish Atlantic World, 1779-1840
The ACLS also announced its 2019 Fellows, Awards range from $40,000 to $70,000, depending on the scholar’s career stage, and support six to twelve months of full-time research and writing. This year’s 81 fellows were selected by their peers from over 1100 applicants in a review process with multiple stages.
The ACLS Fellowship program, the longest-running of its current fellowship and grant programs, is funded primarily by the ACLS endowment. Institutions and individuals have contributed to this program, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Arcadia Charitable Trust, the Council’s Research University Consortium and college and university Associates, past fellows, and individual friends of ACLS.
ACLS Fellows whose projects may be of interest to HSS members are listed below:
- Allan M. Brandt (Professor of the History of Science, Global Health, and Social Medicine, Harvard University) Enduring Stigma: Historical Perspectives on Disease Meanings and Their Impact
- Anna Henchman (Associate Professor of English, Boston University) Tiny Creatures and the Boundaries of Being in the Nineteenth-Century British
- Jennifer Jahner (Assistant Professor of Humanities, California Institute of Technology) The Medieval Experimental Imagination: Scientific and Literary Method in Later Medieval England
- Hilary Falb Kalisman (Assistant Professor of History and Endowed Professor of Israel/Palestine Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder) Standardized Testing: An Imperial Legacy of the Modern Middle East
- Anne Pollock (Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London, UK) Race and Biopolitics in the Twenty-first Century
- Jennifer Rhee (Associate Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University) Counting: Cultures of Measurement, Quantification, and Surveillance
- Sara Ritchey (Associate Professor of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville) Communities of Care: Women, Healing, and Prayer in the Late Medieval Lowlands
- Katherine Unterman (Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M University, College Station) The Colonial Constitution: Law and Empire in the US Territories
- Don Edward Walicek (Professor of English and Linguistics, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras) Speaking ‘American’ in Samaná: Migration, Freedom, and Belonging
- Keren Weitzberg (Teaching Fellow of History, University College London, UK) Marketized Identities: A History of ID Cards, Registration, and Biometrics in Kenya
Contact: Matthew Goldfeder, email@example.com
Documenting the Impact and Reach of the NEH
By Cecily Hill
In 2017, in response to the Trump administration’s threat to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Alliance, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, launched the NEH for All initiative to document the impact of NEH funding and to tell the story of the its impact in ways that are compelling to policymakers and other stakeholders.
Our first goal was to convey the impact of NEH funding through short, to-the-point narratives that explored both the direct and indirect benefits of humanities work. Our website features more than 160 profiles covering individual projects and organizations in every state demonstrating just how this work is being accomplished. These profiles also showcase a broad range of humanities institutions and types of work. The website features public humanities initiatives, research projects, historical sites, digitization projects, exhibitions, community conversations, and preservation and conservation programs. It also highlights the work of universities, libraries, state and local historical societies, humanities centers, museums, and living history organizations.
Importantly, we are also working to demonstrate the broad impact of humanities research by tracing its rippling effects on policy, school classrooms, museum exhibitions, and film and television—in short, on public conversations and ways of knowing. NEHforAll.org already includes many examples of humanities research that has had an impact both inside and outside of the academy, from Robert Baker and Laurence McCullough’s Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics, to Patricia Crown’s archaeological discoveries in Chaco Canyon. Our work over the next year will be to continue demonstrating this impact, producing new case studies and uncovering the processes by which scholarly works become part of our national discourse.
We are also partnering with current NEH grantees to survey participants, collecting data about the impact of humanities programs, and why people value them. By thus gathering geographic data on the NEH’s regranting programs and professional development programs, we are mapping the agency’s national impact.
Many NEH-funded programs have impacts that extend far beyond the geographic location of the initial grantee. NEH on the Road exhibitions travel the country; the American Library Association’s Great Stories Club provides reading and discussion programs for at-risk youth in every state; educators and conservators alike travel to participate in professional development programs. Over the last year, NHA has compiled data and created interactive maps that document this impact. Now visitors to the site can see that participants in NEH professional development programs for K-12 educators come from every region of the country. They can learn where preservation education programs, public dialogues, and NEH on the Road exhibitions have taken place. And they can zoom in on their hometown to find newspapers that have been digitized by the Chronicling America initiative, which is digitizing the nation’s historical newspapers in partnership with the Library of Congress. These data effectively demonstrate that NEH funding extends far beyond big cities or college towns—it reaches even the most rural areas of the country.
Whereas the stated aim of the project is to showcase how the NEH has an impact, we are, in practice, also developing methods to highlight the humanities’ contributions to our communities more broadly. Over the next year, we will be releasing still more information about the humanities’ impact as well as models for evaluating and presenting your own impact. We encourage you to visit NEHforAll.org, to avail yourself of its resources when communicating with policymakers and stakeholders—as well as to stay tuned into new developments.