Simon Thode

Ph.D. Candidate
Program in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology
The Johns Hopkins University

2012 to 2013
Dissertation Research Fellow

The Sciences of Observation and their use in the development of the United States, 1770-1820

<b>Abstract:</b> My project focuses on the observational sciences and their use in the United States between 1770 and 1820. By 'observational sciences' I am referring to geography, cartography, natural history and survey. These sciences connected strongly with other human intellectual fields, particularly law and politics, but they used unmistakably scientific methods—astronomical equipment, mathematics, mapping, as well as general observations sorted into systems and categories—in order to make sense of the natural environment. My interests cover ideal works such as Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, but also more common forms of endeavor such as surveying, simple topographies, travel narratives, and settler guides. The discussions of geography, disease, and climate in these works provided a context for settlement and political development in the western country. I would like to carry out research at the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Read Simon's report on his PACHS-sponsored research <a href="" title="here">here</a>.