Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

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

431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

News of the Center
June 2013

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Engraving of Lepidoptra by William Bartram, late 18th century
Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Center is completing its sixth year of operation — our busiest so far. Our consortium of cultural, educational and scientific institutions continues to refine and expand its programs supporting research in the history of science, technology and medicine, producing events and meetings for academics and members of the public, and providing online resources for learning and research.


The Center will welcome 16 new fellows next year — the largest cohort yet. We received an excellent crop of 55 applications, up from 42 last year. Twenty-two scholars, librarians and archivists from consortium institutions and from across the US and Europe read the applications. Next year's group of fellows will be the first to include independent scholars, faculty and non-US students in addition to US dissertation students. The incoming class is listed below. Click through for more details on our website.

Dissertation Writing Fellows

Julia Mansfield
Stanford University
The Disease of Commerce: Yellow Fever in the Atlantic World, 1793-1805

Teasel Muir-Harmony
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Space Race and American Public Diplomacy

Research Fellows

Elisabeth Berry Drago
University of Delaware
Thomas Wijck's Painted Alchemists at the Intersection of Art, Science and Practice

Kathleen Brian
George Washington University
Morbid Propensities: Suicide, Sympathy, and the Making of the Eugenic Public, 1843-1903

Sarah Chesney
College of William and Mary
The Fruit of Their Labors: Exploring William Hamilton's Greenhouse Complex and the Rise of American Botany in Early Federal Philadelphia

Erin Corrales-Diaz
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915

Emily Handlin
Brown University
Beyond Art and Science: Eadweard Muybridge in Philadelphia, 1884-1887

Kathryn Irving
Yale University
The American Idiot Schools: Disability and Segregation in the Nineteenth Century

Timothy Johnson
University of Georgia
Growth Industry: Unearthing the Origins of Fertilizer-Fueled Agriculture in America, 1850-1950

Jason Kauffman
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Terra Desconhecida: Nature, Knowledge, and Society in the Pantanal Wetlands of Brazil and Bolivia

Joel Klein
Indiana University
Chymistry, Corpuscularism, and Controversy: The Ideas and Influence of Daniel Sennert (1572-1637)

Jessica Linker
University of Connecticut
"It is my wish to behold Ladies among my hearers": Early American Women and Scientific Practice, 1720-1860

Donald Opitz
DePaul University
Cross-Atlantic Fertilizations: Women's Horticultural Education at Ambler, Pennsylvania

James Poskett
University of Cambridge
Printing skulls: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839)

Kristen Ann Woytonik
University of New Hampshire
A Healthy Independence: The Politics, Science, and Business of Healthcare in Early Republic Philadelphia

Brandon Zimmerman
Independent Scholar
An Empire of Skulls: The History of The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection and Scientific Collecting Practices in 19th Century Philadelphia.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Rebecca Onion continues in her second year as Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center. Her current project, Dark Futures: Environmental Catastrophes and American Childhood in the 1970s, explores representations of negative environmental change in children's culture in the United States during the 1970s.

Research Reports

While we await the arrival of next year's research fellows, several of this year's cohort have completed their research in the consortium's collections:


More than 500 people attended the Center's public lectures, demonstrations and performances held at member institutions across the region. Another 300 participated in academic conferences and working groups.

The Center co-sponsored the March, 2013 meeting of Workshop for the History of the Environment, Agriculture, Technology and Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Organized by graduate students for graduate students, the format of the workshop provided unique opportunities for constructive feedback. The three-day workshop opened with a lecture at the Chemical Heritage Foundation by Conevery Bolton Valencius of the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Beth Beverly discusses and demonstrates taxidermy while surrounded by 19th century specimens at the Wagner Free Institute of Science.

The Center held two events in April as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival. The first was Skinned, Stuffed and Mounted: The History, Culture and How-to of Taxidermy. Rachel Poliquin provided a cultural history of taxidermy focusing on how it has been used to understand and express relations between people and animals. Beth Beverly then demonstrated and discussed her work and art as a taxidermist.

Darin Hayton of Haverford College introduces a segment of Sounds Made Up: Tales from the History of Science at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

Our second Science Festival event was Sounds Made Up: Tales From the History of Science. Darin Hayton of Haverford College, Rebecca Onion of PACHS, Elly Truit of Bryn Mawr and Michael Yudell of Drexel University worked with comedians from the Philly Improv Theater to produce skits and improvisations based on episodes in the history of science.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan reflecting on her work, colleagues and students at the University of Pennsylvania.

In May, the Center was honored to help with the Symposium honoring the Career and Scholarship of Ruth Schwartz Cowan at the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. The theme of the two day symposium was to highlight the scholarship of senior and early career scholars who work at the multiple intersections of the histories of science, technology, medicine, genetics and gender.

Richard Staley of the University of Wisconsin-Madison chairing a session of the Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of the Physical Sciences and looking back at the slides of Aimee Slaughter of the University of Minnesota.

Also in May, the Center hosted the Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of the Physical Sciences at the American Philosophical Society and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, with support from the American Institute of Physics. Graduate students presented their dissertation work for comment and suggestion by other students and a group of senior scholars in the field.

Stephen Pyne of Arizona State University speaking at Drexel University about the Third Great Age of Discovery

We ended the spring at Drexel University, the newest member of the consortium, with a lecture by Stephen Pyne of Arizona State University on Voyager and the Third Great Age of Discovery, in which he compared the recent space explorations using robots with the explorations of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the 16th and 18th centuries.

The Center's working groups met monthly throughout the year. Their topics are: Please contact the conveners if you would like to join one of these working groups. Look for several new groups in the fall.

  Collections Updates

Ophthalmoscope in the Albert Collection
Collections of the University of Pennsylvania

The Center's consortium partners continue to enrich their collections:

The Shoenberg Collection of early manuscripts and the Albert Collection of rare books, ephemera and medical instruments have been donated to the University of Pennsylvania.

Advertisement for a veterinary surgeon.
Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has obtained records of the American Society for Testing Materials, the collections of George F. Parry who was one of the first veterinarians to be trained in the United States, as well as a collection of materials by Susan Perry, a graduate in 1858 from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school in the world established to train women and offer them the M.D.

The Hagley Museum and Library announces the addition of four new collections in the history of technology, covering the rise of shooting sports, computer developments at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), a landmark gender equality battle at AT&T, and the formative years at Singer Manufacturing Company.

The Library of the American Philosophical Society has received the papers of Britton Chance (1913-2010), the Eldridge Reeves Johnson Emeritus Professor of Biophysics, Physical Chemistry, and Radiologic Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He developed dozens of devices for use in biomedical research, making or facilitating the making of many important discoveries. The Chance Papers cover his entire life and includes material from his time at the Radiation Laboratory at M.I.T. during World War Two.


The Center is delighted to welcome a new Chair and two new Directors to its Board of Directors .

M. Susan Lindee has started her term as the next Chair of the Center's Board of Directors, on which she has served since 2008. Lindee is Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science as well as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
Justin M. Carisio has been elected to the Board. Carisio is Manager of Executive Communications at DuPont, where he has worked since 1981 and serves as the Company Historian.
Stanley N. Katz has been elected to the Board. Katz is Director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies as well as President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Ronald Brashear, Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library of Chemical History at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, helped to launch the Center in 2007 as the first Chair of its Board of Directors. Although retiring as Chair of the Board, Brashear will continue to serve on the Center's Board.

Michael Gordin is retiring from the Center's Board after serving two terms. He is now the Director of the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton University.

  Add your name...

Dozens of friends, colleagues and supporters made this year possible with their financial contributions. We very much need your help each and every year to continue expanding and developing the Center and its programs. Our supporters appreciate the importance of understanding changes in science, technology and medicine — and how these changes shape our lives.

Please consider adding your name to the Center's list of supporters by making a contribution.

With best regards,

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

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