history of science

I’m in Ann Arbor, waiting for a ride to Pittsburgh, where we’re having the annual meeting of the History of Science Society.

Remember that my paper, and our great panel on “To Market:  A new look at the medical marketplace” is at 3:30 pm tomorrow (Friday Nov 7)!  Jeremy Greene, Debby Levine and I will be speaking, and Gwen Kay will give a comment.  I woke up at two in the morning today with the pressing realization that my talk (“Apologia for quackery”) needed lolducks, so expect them.

The HSS Graduate and Early Career Caucus has a great series of events planned for the meeting, which I’m pasting below.

Final Schedule of GECC Events at HSS

GECC-Sponsored Session
From Dissertation to Book: A Roundtable on First-Time Scholarly Book Publication
Friday, 12-1:15pm – check program for location information
Read more about the session in the full announcement on the blog.

GECC Happy Hour
Friday, 7:30-9:30 The Church Brew Works
The first ever GECC happy hour is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 7 from 7:30 to 9:30 at The Church Brew Works.  GECC volunteers will be standing by after the HSS reception to organize
transportation to one of Pittsburgh’s unique watering holes.   After refueling, we’ll head back to the hotel for the Grad Student party.  Visit the the blog for more information.
**Bring small bills to share the cost of a short cab ride** (it’s a short bus ride too!-sf)

HSS Graduate Student Party
Friday, 9:30-11pm
This annual event is sponsored by HSS, so drop in after happy hour to meet and mingle.

GECC Business Meeting
Saturday, 12-1:15 pm Carnegie III—Conference floor.
Beverages provides; bring your lunch, your concerns and interests as a grad student or early career scholar and help plan the future of the GECC.


GECC Business Meeting Agenda
1. Welcome and review of last year’s accomplishments
2. Discussion of the status of the GECC and budget
3. Election of 2008-2009 officers
4. Discussion on the new mentorship program
5. Proposals for next year’s GECC sessions – come with ideas!
6. Membership Communication
a. listservs
b. special interest groups
c. what the GECC can do to build diversity within HSS membership
1. international members
2. undergraduate outreach
d. conference networking: roommates etc
e. membership directory – do we need one?
7. Open discussion of member concerns/ideas
8. Hydra journal announcement


The Linus and Ava Helen Pauling Papers at Oregon State have started a nice blog with discussions of Pauling’s life and work as well as cataloguing, collections management and preservation. (Pauling was an OSU grad.) They’ve put up tons of content already, so it’s a great resource on Pauling as well as on special collections work in general. OSU, which has a history of science graduate program, has extensive history of science special collections; the Pauling papers alone take up 1800 boxes! Go check them out!

John Lynch from Arizona State has been developing a nice list of history of science blogs/blogs written by historians of science, which is very exciting because it’s a great resource and also because I’ve been meaning to do such a thing for ages and now I don’t have to.  The list is shortish, but there really aren’t that many specifically history of science blogs (and PH is obviously a public history blog first and foremost).   So go check out his list and propose other blogs in the comments.

Are you coming to Pittsburgh in November? The History of Science Society will be meeting with the Philosophy of Science Society Nov 7-9, 2008 in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

The session I organized, F26, To Market: A New Look at the Medical Marketplace, will take place Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm. You can check it out on the preliminary program (note: we’ve had some personnel changes in the session that the program doesn’t yet reflect; our final panel includes Deborah Levine, Jeremy Greene and me, and will be commented by Gwen Kay.)

Also, for emerging professionals, we’ll be having the second ever meeting of the Graduate and Early Career Caucus at Friday lunchtime. Show up and meet fellow early career folks and get stuff done.  It is also likely that we’ll be sponsoring a happy hour. GECC is also sponsoring a session on publishing:

From Dissertation to Book: A Roundtable on First-Time Scholarly Book Publication
HSS 2008, Pittsburgh, PA
Friday, 12-1:15pm

*Jacqueline Wernimont, Brown University
*Roger Turner, University of Pennsylvania
Karen Darling, The University of Chicago Press
Doreen Valentine, Rutgers University Press
Marguerite Avery, The MIT Press

*session organizer

Dissertations are written to demonstrate advanced mastery of a discipline and are an important step toward full participation in the scholarly community. The dissertation is often the first extended piece of scholarship produced by a student, and it is likely to have been conceived and executed within constraints shaped by the student’s institution and its faculty. Moving from dissertation to book involves shedding these constraints and revising the work to make it valuable to a broader readership. At this roundtable, editors from the University of Chicago Press, MIT Press, and Rutgers University Press will share their insights into particular issues in first-time scholarly book publishing, including understanding the difference between a book and a dissertation, finding and working with an editor, submitting a book proposal or manuscript, and the future of the print monograph in scholarly publication. In addition to participant presentations, there will be time devoted to discussing pre-submitted questions, as well as questions that arise during the session. The Graduate and Early Career Caucus is sponsoring this session, which will be chaired by GECC co-chair Jacqueline Wernimont.  Please submit advance questions to Jacqueline Wernimont (Jacqueline_Wernimont@brown.edu) by October 27th, 2008.

Looking for other familiar historians presenting at HSS? Here is my exclusive and probably not complete list of papers from Minnesota HSTM students, alums and faculty at HSS 2008, based on a glance through the preliminary program. Each person’s name is followed by the session number (coded as follows:  day (F, S, Su) and number in that day).

Hiromi Mizuno F2

David Sepkoski F3

Megan Barnhart F5

Deepanwita Dasgupta F21

me F26

Al Martinez F29

Tania Munz F30

Christine Manganaro S3 (don’t miss this awesome talk about the science of race in Hawai’i!)

John Jackson S3

Ioanna Semendeferi S12

Georgina Montgomery Su1

Michael Reidy Su4

Requests for emendations are encouraged.

I also counted exactly 3 history of medicine sessions, though a number of sessions have one Hmed paper included. Not a huge deal, since it’s obviously not the focus of the conference. I may yet go through and count all the independent scholars and public historians.  Stay tuned and see you in Pittsburgh.

Here’s an interesting job posted recently at Museum Professionals, to manage Jim Watson’s papers.  It would be a good fit for a historian of biology who knows XML, or an archivist who cares about recent biology and genetics.*
Archivist – Cold Spring Harbor , NY, USA

Position Title: Archivist
Job Category: Archives
Employer Name: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives
Street Address: 1 Bungtown Road
City, State, Country: Cold Spring Harbor , NY, USA
Postal Code: 11724 [Map It!]
Contact E-Mail Address: jobline@cshl.edu
Contact Website: www.cshl.edu

Position Description/Responsiblities: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives seeks an enthusiastic candidate to fill the position of the JD Watson Special Collection Archivist. The position involves working primarily with the extensive and rapidly expanding collection of scientific and personal materials of CSHL Chancellor, Nobelist James Watson (formerly CSHL Director 1968-94 and CSHL President 1994-2003). This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual with career aspirations in archives to work on a collection of high historic and research value.

Description of the collection: As an active writer and outspoken scientist, James Watson continues to receive correspondence, produce manuscripts and other historic materials, and to donate these materials to the archives. The collection at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory contains: scientific and personal correspondence (1949-present), manuscripts and typescripts, teaching files and administrative files (Harvard, CSHL, Human Genome Project), financial records, scientific reprints, photographs, personal gifts, and memorabilia.

Responsibilities and Duties:
1. Process, arrange, and describe new accessions to the collection (and to some extent the materials in the existing collection and the digital collection).
2. Provide reference assistance to scientific staff, scholars, students and other patrons and visitors to the J.D. Watson Collection.
3. Develop and update the JD Watson web site, http://library.cshl.edu/watsoncollection/index.html
4. Prepare EAD (Encoded Archival Description) finding aids for the archives.
5. Address copyright issues in the physical and digital collection.
6. Maintain in-house databases of reference and usage statistics.
7. Participate in the development of archival projects, i.e. exhibits, conferences, etc

Desired Qualifications: MLS from an ALA accredited library institution and three years of professional experience in an archival setting (processing, arranging, describing, and providing reference for archival/manuscript collections) is required. Knowledge of computers and programs, such as Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Adobe PhotoShop, etc., is preferred. Also a strong knowledge of descriptive standards, such as Dublin Core, MARC, METS, EAD, and XML, is necessary. The candidate should also have the ability to establish goals and priorities and to work both independently and cooperatively with other archivists and librarians on the staff. Excellent oral and written communication skills are needed. This position will report to the Director of Libraries and Archives.

Salary is dependant on qualifications and experience.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, located on the North Shore of Long Island, NY, is a world-renowned research and educational institution with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology, genomics and bioinformatics. The Laboratory is recognized internationally for its excellence in research and educational activities.


Please apply to: jobline@cshl.edu

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Department of Human Resources
1 Bungtown Road
Cold Spring Harbor , NY 11724

* (I’m only going to post job stuff occasionally from now on, since I’m now officially off the market.)

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!

Come one, come all to the Midwest Junto for the History of Science, the regional history of science/technology/medicine conference, held this weekend at the University of Minnesota.

The program is not online as yet, so I can’t point you to it, but suffice it to say that there will be lots of terrific and diverse papers on Saturday April 5 and Sunday, April 6.  All papers will be given in EE-CSCI 3-230 (Electrical and Computing Engineering, University of Minnesota, East Bank, on Washington Ave).

I’ll be talking on Sunday morning.  Here’s the plan of my session:

Session 2:         20th Century Medicine

10:30-10:55 a.m.:    Suzanne Fischer (University of Minnesota)
“’Say ‘Yes’ to the General’: How Advertising and Organizing Saved a Hospital.”

10:55-11:20 a.m.:    Cara Kinzelman (University of Minnesota)
“Twilight Sleep and the Professionalization of Obstetrics.”

11:20-11:45 a.m.:    Krystal Rose (Eastern Illinois University)
“Called to Death: A Case Study on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Coles County, Illinois.”

11:45-12:10 a.m.:    Kirstin Lawson (University of Missouri)
“Healthcare as a Citizen’s Right: Public Health at the Hayward Indian School, Wisconsin, 1901-1920.”

I’ll be talking about how Minneapolis General Hospital became Hennepin County General Hospital.  One reason to come to my talk is that I’m going to play a record on my 1980s portable record player.

Stick around for the rest of the afternoon on Sunday, and you can hear a talk by my pal Christine:

2:10-2:35 p.m.:    Christine Manganaro (University of Minnesota)
“Race Biology in Hawaii: Harry L. Shapiro, the Station for Racial Research, and the Chinese-Hawaiian Project, 1920-1937

You can still register for the conference by contacting Jole Shackelford at shack001@maroon.tc.umn.edu.

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