Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine
431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

News of the Consortium

June 2015

The Primeval World. Frontispiece from W. F. A. Zimmermann's 1855 Die Wunder der Urwelt. Image courtesy of the Linda Hall Library.

100 is the number of fellowships the Consortium has awarded since our first year in 2007. We welcomed six fellows in 2007. Almost triple that number (17) will be joining us over the next year. Providing fellowships for research using member institutions' collections is the Consortium's largest activity, alongside organizing public and academic events and providing online resources for learning, teaching and research. The Consortium's fellowship program supports excellent scholarship in the history of science, technology and medicine and promotes greater use of member institutions' exceptional collections. Our fellows' projects span a breathtaking range of topics, reflecting the richness of members' collections. These projects help us to understand how knowledge and practice in science, technology and medicine have changed, and how these changes affect our lives.

Read more below about fellows' research, our working groups, public events and the Consortium members' new collections.


2015-16 Fellows

The Consortium will welcome our largest group yet in 2015-2016, with thirteen short-term research fellows, three nine-month dissertation writing fellows, and one nine-month NEH postdoctoral fellow. This year's applicant pool is remarkably diverse across the disciplines, including scholars in departments of History of Science, History of Medicine, Sociology of Science, History and Philosophy of Science, Media and Communication Studies, American Studies, African American Studies, Asian Studies, English, and Art History.

David Ceccarelli, University of Rome Tor Vergata
Research Fellow
Between Cope and Osborn: the Role of the American Biological Discourse on the Public Debate on Evolution

Wendy Gonaver, College of William and Mary
Research Fellow
The Peculiar Institution: Race, Gender, and Religion in the Making of Modern Psychiatry

Lawrence Kessler, Temple University
Dissertation Writing Fellow
Planter's Paradise: Agriculture, Ecology, and Science in Hawai'i's Sugarcane Plantations, 1778-1920

Tamara Kneese, New York University
Research Fellow
Digital Afterlives: Patterning Posterity Through Networked Remains

Tess Lanzarotta, Yale University
Research Fellow
A Lab at the Top of the World: Circumpolar Health and Indigenous Politics in Cold War Alaska

Jongmin Lee, University of Virginia
Research Fellow
Rayon: Poisoned History of Empowerment

Shana Lopes, Rutgers University
Research Fellow
"The fraternity throughout the world": American and German Photography, Interactions from 1840 to 1890

Joseph Malherek, George Washington University
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow
From Bauhaus to Maxwell House: Continental Design and Social Science as Technologies of Consumer Engineering in Twentieth-Century America

Alexander Moffett, University of Chicago
Research Fellow
The Circulation of Medical Knowledge: Collective Investigation, 1860-1920

Lisa Ruth Rand, University of Pennsylvania
Dissertation Writing Fellow
Orbital Decay: Space Junk and the Environmental History of Earth's Borderlands, 1957-1985

Miriam Rich, Harvard University
Research Fellow
Monstrous Childbirth: Concepts of Race and Defective Reproduction in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Science, Medicine, and Law

James Risk, University of South Carolina
Research Fellow
Coastal Identities: Science, Technology, Commerce, and the State in American Seaports, 1790 - 1860

Carolyn Roberts, Harvard University
Dissertation Writing Fellow
Surgeon, Fetish Woman, Apothecary, Slave: The Medical Culture, Labor, and Economy of the British Slave Trade, 1680-1807

Whitney Robles, Harvard University
Research Fellow
Gathering the Animals: Natural History in America to 1815

Maxwell Rogoski, University of Pennsylvania
Research Fellow
Surface and Self: Science and the Social Economy of Skin in the Twentieth Century

Sarah Sussman, University of Texas at Austin
Research Fellow
Divining a Usable Past: Psychical Research and the High-Culture Novel, 1880-1940

Dora Vargha, Birbeck College, University of London
Research Fellow
Road to Eradication: Global Polio Vaccine Testing in the Cold War

Fellows Updates

Our fellows are spreading far and wide both in geography and scholarship. Here is an update on some of our 100 current and past fellows.

Nicole Belolan, University of Delaware
2014-2015 Research Fellow
Belolan has won fellowship support from four sources for 2015-2016: A University Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Delaware; a Winterthur Library Dissertation Fellowship; a Center for Historic American Visual Culture Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society; and a Caesar Rodney Fellowship from the General Society of Colonial Wars.

Nick Best, Indiana University
2009-2010 Research Fellow
Best's article, "Meta-Incommensurability between Theories of Meaning: Chemical Evidence," recently appeared in Perspectives on Science. His translation of an important paper by Lavoisier will soon be published in two parts in Foundations of Chemistry: "Lavoisier's 'Reflections on phlogiston' I: against phlogiston theory," and "'Reflections on phlogiston' II: on the nature of heat."

Sarah Bridger, California Polytechnic State University
2007-2008 Research Fellow
Bridger is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Cal Poly. Bridger recently published her first book, Scientists at War: The Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research, with Harvard University Press.

Abe Gibson, Florida State University
2014-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow
Gibson has secured a book contract with Cambridge University Press for a revision of his dissertation, Born to Be Feral: An Evolutionary History of Domestic Animals in the American South. He made presentations at the Southern History of Science and Technology Conference, the American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting, and the Evolution and Ethics Conference in Tallahassee, Florida. On June 6 he will present on "Counting the Animals: Insights from the 2012 Agricultural Census," at the Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky.

Heidi Hausse, Princeton University
2014-2015 Dissertation Writing Fellow
Hausse won a 2015-2016 Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for her project, Life and Limb: Technology, Surgery, and Bodily Loss in Early Modern Germany, 1500-1700.

Jonson Miller, Drexel University
2014-2015 Research Fellow
Miller is currently Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of History and Politics at Drexel University. This year he served as technical consultant on a series of four children's books on the history of technology, published by Capstone Press. The books are The First Computers, The First Airplanes, The First Cars, and The First Space Missions. Miller also made a presentation on "The Transformation of Engineering Knowledge through International Knowledge Transfer" at the 2014 Society for the History of Technology meeting, as part of a session on migrant and diaspora engineers.

Douglas O'Reagan, University of California, Berkeley
2013-2014 Research Fellow
Starting in fall of 2015, O'Reagan will take up a post as Visiting Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Lead Archivist of the Hanford History Project at Washington State University - Tri Cities. O'Reagan is currently Postdoctoral Fellow at the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership at the University of California - Berkeley. In 2014-2015, he was awarded a 3-month Seidel Fellowship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for his project "Industrial Espionage, Tech Transfer, and Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century."

James Poskett, University of Cambridge
2013-2014 Research Fellow
Poskett has won the Adrian Research Fellowship in "Darwin and the Humanities" at Darwin College, UK, starting in October 2015. Poskett's article on the transatlantic publication and reception of "Crania Americana" (1839) was recently accepted for publication with History of Science.

Roberto Chauca Tapia, University of Florida
2014-2015 Dissertation Writing Fellow
Tapia is now a Jeannette D. Black Memorial Fellow at John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

Research Reports

Three recent Fellows report on their research in Consortium collections:

Cara Fallon , Harvard University
2014-2015 Research Fellow
One Hundred Years of Aging: Changing Expectations for Aging Well in 20th Century America

Jonson Miller, Drexel University
2014-2015 Research Fellow
Engineers as Servant-Leaders of the Old South

Elizabeth Searcy, Brown University
2014-2015 Research Fellow
The Unconscious Mind in America, 1880-1917


Public Events

The 2014-2015 year kicked off with the Annual Introductory Symposium, held at the American Philosophical Society. Twenty-six scholars presented short synopses of their research projects over the course of a day. Participants met each other and local scholars and discussed each other's work during breaks and a reception afterward. Topics ranged from the origins of synthetic biology to the rhetoric of innovation in 18th century Istanbul; from the history of Alzheimer's research and diagnosis, to the use of allegory and scientific language in 17th century Europe. Two Consortium Fellows wrote a brief report on the Introductory Symposium.

Woman holding a Dead Bird, Surrey County Asylum. Physiognomy portrait by Hugh Welch Diamond, c.1855.

In October at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Sharonna Pearl of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania spoke on the work of the Victorian asylum doctor, Hugh Welch Diamond, and his use of photographic techniques for diagnostic and therapeutic practices. Diagnosis - Madness: The Photographic Physiognomy of Hugh Welch Diamond explored how Diamond tried to change the nature of asylum practice, using photographs of his patients to nurture them to health without physical restraints. Dr. Pearl involved her audience in an open dialogue about the photos and the biases that the audience may have brought to them as they viewed these images from the past.

The theme of our December event was 2014 in History: Action at a Distance at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Two experts, Jeremy A. Greene, physician and historian of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and Mark A. Hagerott, professor of cyber security at the United States Naval Academy, discussed two recent technological advances, telemedicine and military drones. Our capacity for gathering data remotely and for taking actions at a distance are changing our relationships, including between doctors and patients as well as between combatants. Greene cited the invention of the telegraph (and Morse code) as the beginnings of telemedicine with physicians struggling since then to diagnose and administer to a distant patient. Hagerott discussed the changes that are now occurring in warfare with the introduction of drones - where small flying machines that have the ability to seek human targets, with or without human supervision, are now part of the military complex. The Consortium's postdoctoral fellow, Abe Gibson, provides a summary of this discussion.

Alien Abduction and Psychic Spies: On the Edges of Cold War Science was held at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in February. Greg Eghegian of Penn State University discussed 60 years of research into claims of UFO sightings and alien encounters around the globe. Anthony Enns of Dalhousie University followed with a presentation on American psychic espionage programs that were supported during the Cold War. The two speakers compared the circumstances in which these activities arose and how and why they seem both to have now ended.

Working Groups

The Consortium's working groups program has had another highly successful year in 2014-15. More than 130 distinct individuals from 57 different institutions participated in a Consortium working group this academic year. About a third of the participation was online, by scholars located as far away as Tel Aviv, England, Mexico and Beijing. The Consortium currently hosts 10 groups, each meeting monthly during the academic year. The groups' activities are described in a brief report on our website.

  Collections Updates

The University of Toronto's Fisher Library recently acquired (separately and fortuitously) paired items, print and manuscript, which document the ongoing life of a text: a first edition of the magnificent 1542 folio edition of Leonhart Fuchs's De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes and an unusual bound volume, in octavo, entitled Traité de botanique, containing the full page illustrations probably from a sixteenth century Basel edition of Fuchs, interleaved with notes and additional hand-drawn illustrations dating to about 1740. The drawings appear to have been done from nature and the volume is attributed to a reader with a keen botanical interest who has signed his name D.C. de S. Vincent, but about whom nothing further is yet known.

The American Philosophical Society has completed the processing of the Herman Goldstine papers. A mathematician by training, Goldstine is best known for his pioneering work in developing computers, helping to construct both ENIAC and EDVAC systems. Much of his career was spent at IBM and the Institute for Advanced Study.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has recently processed the diaries of Deforest P. Willard, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon from Philadelphia who served in the U.S. Army during World War I in Britain and France, and the records of the American Society for Testing Materials, an organization founded in 1898 that helped to develop industry standards for steel used in rail construction. More information can be found in the finding aid.

The spring 2015 issue of Pennsylvania Legacies, published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, focuses on the history of science and technology in the Keystone State and includes articles from past Consortium fellows.

On July 1st, 2015 the exhibition Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 will debut in the newly refurbished Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery located in the west wing of the National Museum of American History. On display will be some of the very works that exposed an eager and curious public to the wealth of new ideas and inventions of the 19th century, including landmarks of scientific discovery, imaginative fiction, popular science, newspaper hoaxes, dime novels, and more. Showcased alongside selected historical artifacts from Smithsonian museum collections, the books on exhibit will trace the impact of the period's science on the world of fiction. Starting June 23, the exhibition will be featured in an online version.

  Building a Consortium Together

Thank you for your support and participation over the last eight years. Your contributions make a big difference to our capacity for supporting research and for sharing the results of that research with broad audiences.

If you have given in the past, please renew your support. If not, add your name to our growing list of supporters.

With best regards,

Babak Ashrafi, Executive Director
Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine
431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

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