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
November 2013

Aristotle's compleat master-piece.
[London]: printed and sold by the booksellers, 1738.
Image courtesy of the Princeton University Library.

Can we still call the Center, founded in 2007, "new"? Maybe so if we view it next to our consortium partners, several of which were founded in the 18th Century. In either case, we can definitely say that the Center continues to grow in every dimension.

After much discussion, many tests, trials and pilot projects and much refinement we have sorted out a set of collaborative programs that promote public and academic understanding of the history of science, technology and medicine. These programs, described in detail at, include fellowship programs for scholarly research, working groups, conferences, public events, online search and discovery tools and other web-based resources for research, learning and teaching.

But we're not done yet. We are working hard to expand these programs, increase their effectiveness, and to establish new partnerships. Watch this space for exciting announcements over the next year.

Our plans for the future build on the consortium's current successes, including the news items below.


One of the most interesting and gratifying aspects of life at the Center is watching our young fellows make significant contributions to scholarship and launch their careers. Here is an update on some of our 71 current and past fellows.

Katherine Arner (2011-2012 Research Fellow) will have an article published, "Making Global Commerce into Health Diplomacy: Consuls and Commercial Agents in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions," in the upcoming December special issue of the Journal of World History, The State and the Epidemiological Transition.

Catherine Bonier (2012-2013 Research Fellow) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Architecture at the College of Art and Design, Louisiana State University Baton Rouge where she will be teaching architectural history and theory and architectural design. Her dissertation will be completed in the spring.

Sarah Bridger (2007-2008 Research Fellow) reports that she is Assistant Professor in the History Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her dissertation "Scientists and the Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research," was accepted with distinction at Columbia University in 2011 and she was subsequently awarded the Allan Nevins Prize by the Society of American Historians, a national award for the best-written U.S. History dissertation.

Meghan Crinic (2011-2012 Research Fellow) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania History and Sociology of Science Department in August 2013 having successfully defended her dissertation, "Seeking the Salubrious Sea: The Health and Environments of Urban American Families, 1870-1930."

Lijing Jiang (2012-2013 Research Fellow) just finished her dissertation in August, "Degeneration in Miniature: History of Cell Death and Aging Research in the Twentieth Century". She is currently at Princeton University as a D. Kim Postdoctoral Fellow, co-affiliated with the East Asian Studies Department and History of Science Program.

Christopher Jones (2008-2009 Research Fellow) reports that he has taken a position as Assistant Professor of History in Arizona State University's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Kurt MacMillon (2011-2012 Dissertation Writing Fellow) received a full-time lectureship in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Northern Arizona University for 2013-2014.

Joe Martin (2011-2012 Dissertation Writing Fellow) successfully defended his dissertation, "Solid Foundations: Structuring American Solid State Physics, 1939-1993" at the University of Minnesota this past May. He is now a Faculty Fellow in Science, Technology, and Society at Colby College.

Teasel Muir-Harmony (2013-2014 Dissertation Writing Fellow) is working on her dissertation this year at the Center. She also presented a paper, "Selling Space Capsules, Moon Rocks, and America: Project Apollo and the Evolution of Public Diplomacy, 1961-1973" at a conference in Oslo Norway as well as "The Apollo Program, Public Diplomacy, and the Role of Technology in Foreign Relations" at Colby College in Maine.

Cameron Strang (2010-2011 Research Fellow) completed his Ph.D. at the University of Texas in August 2013. He is currently the Margaret Henry Dabney Penick resident scholar at the Smithsonian Institution. His recent article, "Indian Storytelling, Scientific Knowledge, and Poser in the Florida Borderlands" was published in the October 2013 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly.

Simon Thode (2012-2013 Research Fellow) has returned back to New Zealand after receiving his doctorate from Johns Hopkins in June 2013. His dissertation was entitled "The Practices of Observational Science and the Development of the American Nation in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1763-1814". He is currently working as a research analyst in the government Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, where he is involved in research on science innovation systems and policy.

Aelwyn Wetherby (2011-2012 Research Fellow) recently submitted her dissertation which focuses on American medical relief in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1949). She has also completed a historical documentary ( which she directed and produced. Aelwyn is currently a Historian for the Joint POW/MIA Accountability Command working with a team of historians and forensic anthropologists who are trying to identify the remains of missing or unidentified servicemen from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

We are now preparing for the next round of fellowships. The Center invites applications for Research Fellowships and Dissertation Writing Fellowships for 2014-2015. Applications can be submitted at until January 8, 2014.


Robert Fox, Cain Distinguished Fellow at Chemical Heritage Foundation discusses "Science International: Ideals and Realities in a Fractured World" at the Introductory Symposium.

This year, like past years, began with our Annual Introductory Symposium in which scholars new to the area or new to the field introduced themselves and their work. These scholars included fellows at the Center and at our consortium partners. This year, for the first time, we publicized the Symposium to the general public and nearly 180 people joined us. The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed four of our participants and wrote an article titled "Speedy Peeks into Early Days of Science". Over the course of the afternoon, twenty-one scholars from more than a dozen different fellowship programs in the region gave brief introductions to their current research - ranging from Muslim alchemy in the 14th century to public diplomacy in the space age.

Simeon Koole, William Alexander Fleet Fellow at Princeton University, describes "Changing Conceptions and Experiences of the Sense of Touch in Britain, c.1870-c.1970" at the Introductory Symposium.

We are planning several more public events in the new year, including "The Death and Rebirth of Electric Cars" and "Technology, Privacy and Security". The Center will host the Joint Atlantic Seminar in the History of the Physical Sciences, as it did last year, and launch a new Joint Atlantic Seminar in the History of Technology. In January of 2014, we will add two more groups to our busy schedule of Working Groups, a History of Technology Working Group and a History of Biology Working Group.

  Collections Updates

Sibly, E. (Ebenezer), 1751-1800. New and complete illustration of the celestial science of astrology: or, the art of foretelling future events and contingencies..., 1785.
Image courtesy of the Princeton University Library.
This image explains the success of the American Revolution.

Drexel University Libraries announces the acquisition of a collection of faculty papers documenting the rise of microcomputing at Drexel. Tom Hewett, Professor of Psychology and Computer Science, began teaching at Drexel in 1973, and was one of the creators of the Drexel Disk, early courseware which aimed to "train novice users of a personal computer and to provide them with all the information they need to be able to use the machine and the facilities at Drexel." In addition, the Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center has acquired the sixteen issues of Correspondenzblatt der Homoeopatischen Aerzt which was published from 1835 through 1836. This publication was the first homeopathic journal published in the United States, created by and for homeopathic practitioners who submitted case notes, observations and questions about their patients.

The Consortium Special Collections Search Hub has been updated with new catalog records from several consortium members, and include Drexel catalogs for the first time.

  Help Build The Center

Whether we can call the Center new or not, it is a small and rapidly growing organization that has begun to attract international attention for its work and community. Your contribution can make a big difference.

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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