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
August 2011

Please turn on images.
Inside the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1841
Image courtesy of ANSP Archives Coll. 49

Summer is upon us. The Center's 2010-2011 fellows have completed their research trips to Philadelphia area collections or their year in residence writing their dissertations. Our public events, colloquium series and our conference program are finished for the academic year. We will use the summer months to reflect on our fourth year of activity and to refine our plans for growing a larger, more active and more effective center for the history of science, technology and medicine.

  Fellowship Program

We look forward to welcoming a new class of fellows in 2011-2012. Two writing fellows and ten research fellows will arrive at the Center starting in September 2011. Scholars from across the country and librarians from our member institutions selected our fellows from a very strong pool of applicants. The incoming class is listed below. Click through for more information on each fellow's project.

2011-2012 Dissertation Writing Fellows
Kurt MacMillan Kurt MacMillan
University of California, Irvine
Hormonal Bodies: A Transregional History of Sex and Race in Constitutional Medicine, 1911-1965
Joseph Martin Joseph Martin
University of Minnesota
Solid Foundations: Structuring American Solid State Physics, 1939-1993
2011-2012 Dissertation Research Fellows
Katherine Arner Katherine Arner
Johns Hopkins University
Shaped by Fever, Commerce and War: American Medicine and Public Health in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions
Amanda Bevers Amanda Bevers
University of California, San Diego
Making Museums of Medical History
Susan Brandt Susan Brandt
Temple University
Gifted Women and Skilled Practitioners: Gender and Healing Authority in the Mid-Atlantic Region, 1740-1830
Benjamin Breen Benjamin Breen
University of Texas, Austin
Cures from New Worlds: the Portuguese Tropics and the Origins of the Global Drug Trade, 1640-1760
Meghan Crnic Meghan Crnic
University of Pennsylvania
The Salubrious Sea: Marine Hospitals, the Environment, and the Health of American Urban Children, 1870-1930
Claire Gherini Claire Gherini
Johns Hopkins University
'That Great Experiment': Plantation America and the Remaking of British Medicine in the Anglophone Atlantic, 1730-1800
Christopher Heaney Christopher Heaney
University of Texas, Austin
Grave Expectations: Peruvian Skulls, Museums and the Law, 1824-1948
Funke Sangodeyi
Harvard University
The Body as Ecosystem: Good Germs and American Bodies, 1940s-1990s
Aelwen Wetherby Aelwen Wetherby
University of Oxford
Aid, Incorporated: American Medical Relief to China and the Development of Medical Diplomacy, 1937-1949
Matthew White Matthew White
University of Florida
Public Science, Patronage, and Free Education: The Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia 1855 - 1900

Several of the Center's consortium partners offer their own fellowships. A partial list of incoming fellows who will be working on the history of science, technology or medicine throughout the consortium can be found on our website.


Some of the historians and performers at
Seemed Right at the Time?! Scenes from Science Past

Public Events

In April, the Center partnered with one of its consortium members, The Wagner Free Institute of Science, to participate in the first annual Philadelphia Science Festival. The Science Festival, a two week, city-wide collaboration promoting the scientific and educational resources of many of the city's organizations, was spearheaded by The Franklin Institute, another of our consortium members, with funding from the National Science Foundation. More than 150 attended Seemed Right at the Time?! Scenes from Science Past, an evening of talks by historians with performances by the Philadelphia Improv Theater based on primary sources. Topics included mesmerism, astrology, witchcraft in renaissance Venice, medieval automata, evolution and 18th century cures for yellow fever. The Wagner Free Institute of Science provided a wonderful venue with its Victorian lecture hall dating back to 1865—complete with an auditorium full of specimens and wire holders for bowler hats under every seat. Attendees were able to tour the Wagner's nineteenth century exhibit hall where the collections maintain their original "systematic" scheme providing a rare view of a Victorian Science Museum.

Scholarly Programs

In addition to the Center's ongoing colloquium series, we launched a series of working groups over the last year. Currently there are four groups, in addition to the colloquium, which meet monthly—Environmental Issues, History of Medicine and Health, History of Medieval and Early Modern Science, and History and Theory. Several more groups are in the works for next year. These meetings are informal opportunities to discuss colleagues' papers as well as interesting issues in research and writing.

Conference Support Competition

The Center ran the first round of its Conference Support Competition last year. We provided support to Beth Linker of the University of Pennsylvania for Civil Disabilities: Theory, Citizenship, and the Body and to Darin Hayton of Haverford College and Amy Slaton of Drexel University for an interdisciplinary workshop examining expertise.

The Conference Support Competition for the academic year 2011-2012 is now open. We invite proposals for support of conferences and workshops on the history of science, technology and medicine—broadly construed. For more information on conference guidelines and application forms, visit

  Looking Ahead

Elly Truit of Bryn Mawr College commenting on a pre-circulated paper by Jonathan Seitz of Drexel University during a meeting of the Regional Colloquium in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Though this event is fairly far on the horizon, we are extremely pleased to announce that our efforts were successful in promoting Philadelphia as the venue for the upcoming 2012 Three Societies Meeting. A number of our consortium members, including the American Philosophical Society, the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania, will provide meeting space for this important conference. Held jointly every four years by the History of Science Society, the British Society for the History of Science, and the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, this conference will bring hundreds of historians together in Philadelphia on July 10 -13, 2012.

Closer on the horizon, we will hold our annual Introductory Symposium. Many scholars come each year to the Philadelphia area to conduct research or as fellows at area institutions, including our consortium partners. A new crop of graduate students embark on their dissertation projects. This symposium will allow scholars, new and new to the area, to introduce themselves and their work to area colleagues. Registration is open now by email. See our website for more information.

We are looking forward to the fall. The summer months will give us much needed time to evaluate, reorganize and refine our plans for making the Center a more productive and congenial destination for academics as well as a more effective venue for public discussion of how changes in science, technology and medicine affect our lives.

With best regards,

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

 Subscribe to RSS     Follow on Twitter     Find in Facebook

Home   Events   Fellowships   Conferences   Collections   Blogs   Groups   Contact