Brown Bag Lecture: Publishing a Scientist’s Correspondence: Joys and Sorrows

Lunchtime Lectures
Monday, September 26, 2016
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Please join us for a talk with Robert Anderson, the Institute’s interim president and CEO.

As many of us have discovered, written correspondence can be very revealing. In the case of letters to and from scholars, evidence is frequently found which is difficult, or even impossible, to glean from published papers or books but which nevertheless is significant in considering their work. In recent years editions of letters of Michael Faraday, Joseph Banks, and Erasmus Darwin have appeared, and Charles Darwin’s have been partly published. This paper will deal with issues, some of which were tricky to deal with, surrounding the production of the correspondence of the Scottish chemist Joseph Black (1728–1799), which appeared in 2014. What the benefits are of having his letters in print will be briefly discussed.

A chemistry graduate (Oxford, MA, DPhil), Robert Anderson worked as a curator in the history of science (Royal Scottish Museum, London Science Museum) before becoming a museum director (National Museums of Scotland, British Museum). He was president of the BSHS and the International Scientific Commission and is current chair of SHAC. After 2002 came Princeton (IAS), Cambridge (fellow, Clare Hall), and the Institute (board, vice chair, and currently interim president and CEO). Publications mainly concern 18th- and 19th-century chemistry and museum history.