Matthew White

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
University of Florida

2011 to 2012
Research Fellow

Public Science, Patronage, and Free Education: The Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia 1855 - 1900

Abstract: This project proposes to be the first scholarly history of the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia with emphasis on its public programs and free education. The goals of this project are fivefold: 1) to understand the history leading to a unique institution in nineteenth century America that offered free science education to the public, 2) to understand the interplay of science, education, and patronage in the Philadelphia community and the place of the WFIS in that community, 3) to gain a broader understanding of the construction of “public science” as a communicative and constructive process as it developed in Philadelphia 4) to gain a greater appreciation of the role that institutions play as a site of knowledge production, consumption, and communication especially in the American context and 5) to understand the complex history of public science spanning the interval of time from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Read Matthew's report on his PACHS-sponsored research here.