Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

Promoting Scholarly and Public Understanding of the
History of Science, Technology and Medicine

431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

News of the Center
December 2011

Please turn on images.

The museum of the Wagner Free Institute of Science
photo © David Graham

The Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science is in its fifth year as the collaboration established by area institutions to pursue a shared mission: using their exceptional resources to promote public and academic understanding of the history of science, technology and medicine. This collaboration contributes to our intellectual and cultural life by making it easier to find our rich collections, to conduct research in them, and to share the results of that research with broad audiences inside and outside academia.


Some of the participants at the Annual Introductory Symposium and Reception

The Center kicked off its fifth year with our Annual Introductory Symposium, welcoming to the area seventeen scholars working in the history of science, technology and medicine at member institutions. During an afternoon symposium held at the Library Company of Philadelphia, newcomers presented short summaries of their current research. They joined us from far flung institutions - Universität Regensburg, Germany and University College, London and from more familiar neighbors such as Villanova University and Drexel University. The symposium was followed by an evening reception hosted at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania where we were joined by more members of the local community. Participants learned about each others' work, about some of the area collections, and enjoyed good food and conversation.

We are very pleased to announce the two winners of our 2011-2012 Conference Support Competition:

Robert Nye (Professor Emeritus, History of Science, Oregon University) and Erika Milam (Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland) have teamed up to organize a conference about Masculinities in Science/Sciences of Masculinity. Using the tools of gender studies, their meeting will examine scientific conceptions of masculinity and the cultures of masculinity in science in relation to women and femininity, from the medieval period to the present. Speakers will address one of four main subject areas: scientific constructions of masculinity, male sex, and male sexuality; the prevalence and variety of masculine scientific cultures; technologies of gender and the gendering of technology; and popular conceptions of science as a masculine discipline.

Our second conference, Artifacts, Aesthetics, and Authority: Visual Practices in the History of Anatomy and Medicine, is being organized by Carin Berkowitz (Associate Director, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation), and Eva Åhrén (Senior Curator, Head of Research, The Nobel Museum, Stockholm, Sweden). Speakers will investigate the roles of images and objects in the formulation of the anatomical sciences from the eighteenth through the twentieth century in popular culture and medical pedagogy.

Check our website and emails for more information about these meetings, which will be open to the public.


Applications for fellowships for the 2012-2013 academic year can be submitted online. The deadline for applications is January 9, 2012. The Center offers one- or two-month Dissertation Research Fellowships and nine-month Dissertation Writing Fellowships for students in the history of science, technology and medicine.

Some of our previous Dissertation Fellows have received their degrees and moved on to new positions. Karin Ekholm was a student at Indiana University in 2009 when she received a Dissertation Research Fellowship. She is now at Cambridge University working on the Generation to Reproduction project which aims to reassess the history of reproduction from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Here is a brief report of her activities after her fellowship.

  Consortium Collections

The Center's consortium partners continue to expand and exhibit their collections.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania recently acquired the records of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia. Beyond its service as club documentation, the collection provides unique insights into the rise of the engineering profession and engineering projects in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania over the course of the twentieth century.

The Princeton University Library has recently added a substantial collection of materials in phrenology, which includes books, journals and also ephemera. These materials, acquired from a private English collector, document the rise and decline of phrenology on both sides of the Atlantic, from the early nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century.

The Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia recently held a reception at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Trustee William H. Helfand gave a personal tour for Library Company members of a selection of the Helfand Collection of Proprietary Medicine Pamphlets.

  First Annual Appeal

The Center relies on its individual and institutional partners for financial, intellectual and strategic support. We have accomplished much in our first few years and continue to expand and develop the Center and its programs. Please consider supporting our efforts by making a donation.

With best regards,

Babak Ashrafi, Executive Director
Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science
431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

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