The 51st Annual Midwest Junto for the History of Science was held last weekend here at Minnesota.  Here’s a report from Steph, and one from Nathan.  There was a real diversity of presentations and research areas, as well as some geographic diversity, with our usual folks from Minnesota, Wisconsin, various places in Missouri, Iowa State and Oklahoma, and visitors from elsewhere  around the Midwest and the country.  My paper went well, fyi, and I got lots of great questions.

Some standout papers:

  • Samuel Spence, from Oklahoma, talked about the role of the sf writer Jerry Pournelle in the development of Reagan’s Star Wars project.
  • Judith Kaplan from Wisconsin gave a paper on James Henry Breasted, the Egyptologist who founded the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.  I don’t know anything about the history of Egyptology (at least after Napoleon) and found it a totally fascinating story.
  • Krystal Rose from Eastern Illinois spoke on the course of the 1918 flu pandemic in rural Illinois, with particular attention to how it progressed in the local newspapers.  Comics in the local papers provided jokes about the flu, eg:  Did you hear that they quarantined the library?  They found influenza in the dictionary!
  • Amy Bix talked about the gendering of home repair, from household equipment classes at land-grant universities to pink hammers.

Also worth mentioning was the presentation of Eric Ward of the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City (home of next year’s Junto), who discussed a book setting scientific color standards for ornithology; the LHL has digitized the book, and it’s online.  They also have online a great collection of star atlases and materials relating to the building of the Panama Canal.  Next year in Kansas City!