October 2019 – HSS News

Quick Links….
HSS in Utrecht
Congratulations 2018 DHST Dissertation Prize Laureates
Q&A with Anita Guerrini
My Job in Five Objects
In memoriam
News from the HSS
Member News
News from the Profession
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HSS Amicus Curiae Policy

The History of Science Society does not endorse or submit amicus curiae briefs on general political or social issues. There are, however, times when issues arise that affect scholars in our discipline, or historical scholarship on science, that demand our consideration. If the Executive Committee believes the Society should join an action, it will make a recommendation to Council in the form of a motion. A majority of the Council members must approve the motion for it to be approved.

HSS Editorial Offices: New Addresses

The Society’s editorial offices have completed their transition from Utrecht to the United States. The main office is located at Mississippi State University:

History of Science Society Editorial Office
Department of History
208 Allen Hall, Mailbox H
175 Presidents Circle
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS 39762

The Book Review Office address, where all books for possible review should be sent is

Isis Book Review Office
Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine
431 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-2426

The email address for the editorial office is

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in China

The Chinese anthology of outstanding history of science, technology, and medicine articles, that appeared from 1990 to 2015, has been published by Tsinghua University Press. The HSS and several other societies participated in selecting the articles for this volume, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science oversaw the process. The anthology is part of the Press’s new history of science series.

Ombudsperson for the HSS

The History of Science Society (HSS) is seeking an ombudsperson to help the HSS with its Respectful Behavior Policy. We are grateful that Sally Gregory Kohlstedt agreed to serve as our first ombudsperson. Her term will expire in June 2020, and she is happy to discuss the position with those who are interested.

We envision the ombudsperson, subject to Council approval, to be a volunteer HSS member who receives inquiries and complaints relating to HSS’s Respectful Behavior Policy. A full description of the position will appear in a future Newsletter. Those who would like to learn more should contact HSS Executive Director Jay Malone at jay@hssonline.org.

HSS Council Early Career Representative—Call for Nominations and Voting Information

Beginning in 2020, the History of Science Society council will include an early career representative (ECR), serving a three-year term (2020-2022). The successful candidate will represent graduate student and early career interests, provide an early career scholar’s perspective to other council members, and keep the early career and graduate community abreast of relevant HSS policies and initiatives. This is a non-voting council position. For more information about HSS council please see, https://hssonline.org/about/governance/.

The HSS Graduate and Early Career Caucus (GECC) is facilitating the call for nominations for this position and subsequent election. All graduate students and early career members of HSS in good standing are members of GECC and eligible to vote in this election. We invite any interested individuals to nominate themselves for this position or have others nominate them.

Interested candidates or those interested in nominating others should keep the following in mind:

  • Candidates must be a graduate student or early career member of HSS in good standing at the time of the election.
  • For the purposes of this position, “early career” is defined as “having received a PhD within the last five years.” Nominees for the position should either a) fit this description when they are nominated (i.e., have received a PhD in the last five years, even if they will be more than five years past graduation by the end of the position term of 2022), or b) be current graduate students who are within a year of completing their degree.
  • Nominees can nominate themselves, or they can be nominated by others. All nominees must be seconded.
  • All candidates are required to write a candidate statement (no more than 300 words), which will be posted on the GECC website
  • This position is not a GECC officership and no current GECC officers are eligible to run.

All nominations must be submitted and seconded by 15 November 2019. Voting will take place through the GECC website from 25 November through 6 December 2019. Both nominations and seconds should be submitted via email to hss.gecc@gmail.com. Please also email this address with any questions or concerns.

Get ready for New Orleans!

After the HSS meeting in Utrecht, I had a chance to spend a few days in Amsterdam. While wandering around the Spiegelkwartier District, I happened upon the Bourbon Street Blues Club and thought, “Ah, a segue for the 2020 meeting.” So pull out your calendars and mark 7-11 October 2020 for our joint meeting with SHOT, the first conference with our colleagues in almost 10 years. Unlike the 2011 meeting in Cleveland, we will be in the same hotel, the Sheraton on Canal Street, just a few short blocks from the actual Bourbon Street.

And although early October is still hurricane season, the weather we faced in Utrecht, with temperatures that soared to 100 F (40 C), suggests that we have paid our dues to the weather gods, and we will see clear skies in the Crescent City. Finally, 2020 will mark at least two important anniversaries: the 75th year after the end of WWII and the 15th year after Hurricane Katrina. Although HSS meetings do not have themes, such occasions can offer inspiration.

I hope to see you in the Big Easy.


HSS Announces New Independent Scholar Award

Thanks to the generosity of Virginia Trimble, a long-time HSS member, we are pleased to announce the Edward Gerjuoy/John Michell Independent Scholar Award (you may read more about Gerjuoy here and Michell here).

The award, which will begin in 2020, will highlight an independent scholar’s work at the HSS annual meeting. The gift from Dr. Trimble is for a permanent endowment of the award. Each year, the HSS program co-chairs will take special notice of submissions by independent scholars, which will include those individuals whose institutions do not consider these scholars to be working historians. (As a research scientist with a deep interest in the history of science, Dr. Trimble hopes that this award will stimulate interest among scientists.) The Society, wishing to simplify the submission process, will base the award solely on the abstract (no CV required). The program co-chairs will determine the winner, who will be identified in the HSS program and who will receive $500 US.

We are grateful to Dr. Trimble for her support in recognizing this important area in the history of science (you may learn more about her work by perusing the article, reprinted here, announcing her winning of the Gemant Award for Championing the Social Perspective of Science, offered by the American Institute of Physics). Dr. Trimble received her B.A. from UCLA (in astronomy and physics) and her PhD in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1968, at a time when Cal Tech only admitted women under “exceptional circumstances” (“exceptional” typically meant women admitted with their husbands or students who came with new faculty from other schools). Trimble was admitted without the involvement of a husband or faculty member, coming to the institution on a full Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.

Raffle Winners for the Post-Meeting 2019 Survey

Thank you to all who responded to our Post-Meeting Survey for HSS 2019 in Utrecht. The gift card raffle winners are Paul Mitchell and Katherine Reinhart, chosen randomly from the respondents. Congratulations!

September 2019 issue of Isis (Volume 110, no. 3) published

HSS members may view the table of contents and access articles on our website. In addition to its usual line up of articles, critiques, and reviews (of both books and websites) this issue features a special “Focus” section on computational history and the philosophy of science.

Request for Newsletter Title Suggestions

There has been some talk about giving this Newsletter of ours a catchier, more memorable title that moreover, represents who and what we are as a society. Since it is a newsletter for the people, I thought the people should have a say in what its title should be. So members, do email your suggestions and ideas to me at sankanet@gmail.com. Anything that arrives by 30 November will be considered. We will put the various suggestions to an internal vote and come up with a shortlist in the January 2020 edition, and let everyone vote on it and reveal the winning title in the April 2020 issue.

SHOT BrochureHSS and SHOT

By Jay Malone

HSS members may recall the short survey that we sent out in May, asking members to list the groups with which you would like more interaction. The top choice, by far, was SHOT, followed by the Society for Social Studies of Science, American Historical Association, the British Society for the History of Science, and PSA. Council has been urging me to coordinate more meetings with SHOT and the survey reaffirmed that HSS members wish for that association, as well. So I am looking forward to the co-located meetings with SHOT in New Orleans next year 7–11 October and then, again, in Mérida, Mexico in November of 2021 (exact dates to be determined).

I am also happy to announce that I have learned from past co-located meetings and that history will not be repeating itself… I hope. Long-time members may recall that the last time we met in New Orleans was in 1994, a joint meeting with PSA and 4S. The hotel, a property with some challenges, was in a sketchy part of town and several members told me years later that they did not feel safe at night. For 2020, we will be in the Sheraton on Canal Street, in the middle of the tourist district and a block away from the French Quarter. Safety is my number one concern for our conferences and this location meets that concern (the weather gods permitting). Incidentally, members may be interested in learning that one web site ranked Mérida, a place I did not know existed before last year, as the 25th safest city in the world.

This learning from the past extends to co-located meetings. HSS has met with SHOT multiple times over the years but not without some challenges. The last co-located meeting was in 2011, in Cleveland, a less than desirable arrangement in which we were in two hotels and the weather proved miserable. Before that, we came together in 2005 in Minneapolis, this time in the same hotel, and that meeting was a bit smoother but trying to coordinate the meeting space proved daunting. This was to be expected because there had been a gap of some 15 years from the last meeting, the 1991 conference in Madison.

If you ask people about SHOT and HSS, there is the inevitable discussion of past friction, a point that, thankfully, seems to be dulling over time. But part of that tension can be traced to the first HSS meeting I ever attended, the joint meeting in 1987, in Raleigh, NC. Several images stick in my memory from that conference: Jim Moore giving what is possibly the best talk I’ve ever heard at HSS, on why Darwin “gave up” on Christianity; losing power in the convention center shortly after his talk and groping my way to the exit where we re-convened on the lawn outside; and watching Ed Grant, past president of HSS, placing tattered bits of lettuce on his plate at the joint dinner, the only remaining edible portions of a buffet that looked like it had been attacked by those on the edge of starvation (members still point to that experience whenever I mention the possibility of a buffet at HSS). Simply put, joint meetings can be difficult.

When I tell hotel managers that we are meeting with another group, they give me a frozen smile, because such meetings can be a challenge. One group will always feel that they are receiving inferior rooms, sub-standard food, coffee break dregs, and they end up entertaining all sorts of perceived slights. I will work closely with my SHOT colleagues to try to avoid such perceptions, but it will not be easy. These co-located meetings deepen and broaden the workload in the Executive Office. Just organizing the site visit for New Orleans required herculean efforts to bring everyone to the table.

But, and this is important, the extra work is worth it because it allows us to interact with our colleagues, giving us exposure to ideas we would have missed had we met by ourselves. Also, more of us come to these co-located meetings. For example, when HSS met alone at the Bloomington meeting in 1985, we saw a fairly predictable attendance of 380. When we gathered with SHOT the following year in Pittsburgh (along with PSA and 4S) attendance shot up 43%, to 584. And then, the following year, in Raleigh, the numbers increased again, to 668, which was probably the largest-ever HSS meeting up to that time (and which helps explain the difficulty organizers faced when trying to plan for buffet dinners). Finally, an increasingly important point is that by meeting with SHOT we will dramatically cut the carbon emissions had we met separately. The sustainability of HSS meetings is high on my list of priorities, and I believe that the extra work that New Orleans and Mérida will create will not only bring intellectual benefits, it will be a gift to our planet. I hope to see many of you in the Crescent City and in the capital of the Yucatán.

What To Do With Somewhat Rare Publications?

I recently heard from a member who had a question. He is in the process of downsizing, which includes finding a place for several runs of journals. In some cases, he has the first issue of these journals, which probably are not rare enough to warrant use of an antiquarian book dealer but are perhaps rare enough that some would find them of value. It occurred to me that there are probably other members who are in a similar situation and I told him that I would put a notice in the Newsletter. So, if you found a good solution for your journal runs, please let me know.

Jay Malone (jay@hssonline.org)