Science History Institute and Penn to Serve as New Hosts of History of Science Society

The dual collaboration between a public-facing organization and a university is the first of its kind for the society.

Founded in 1924, the History of Science Society (HSS) is the world’s oldest and largest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in historical context. This professional and scholarly hub will now make its home in Philadelphia, a city with a rich community of scholarship and outreach in the field of history of science.

In a unique partnership, the Science History Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of History and Sociology of Science will host HSS for at least the next five years. The Society has more than 3,000 members and has been based at Notre Dame University since 2010. The Institute will serve as its home base, providing support, as well as opportunities for onsite meetings, exhibitions, and other programming. As part of the arrangement, Penn is funding mentorship and work opportunities for students with the society’s executive office.

“HSS is excited to have the Science History Institute and Penn as our new home,” says John Paul Gutierrez, HSS executive director. “Being the preeminent society dedicated to the history of science, technology, and medicine, entering a partnership with the Institute and Penn’s esteemed History and Sociology of Science department was a natural progression for HSS, especially as we near our centennial. This partnership will allow the society to continue to deliver and grow our offerings for our members and reinforces the Science History Institute as the central hub for the field."

M. Susan Lindee, the Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science and chair of the Department of History and Sociology of Science in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences, led the proposal to relocate the society, working in conjunction with Projit Mukharji, an associate professor in the department; Michelle DiMeo, the Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library at the Institute; and David Cole, the Institute’s president and CEO.

“This new partnership builds off of decades of collaboration between the Science History Institute and the University of Pennsylvania,” says DiMeo. “This is the first time that the society’s hosting duties have been balanced between a university and a public-facing organization. Philadelphia has the greatest concentration of history of science institutions of any major U.S. city. Welcoming the HSS executive office here will enable more collaboration across our community, create mentorship opportunities for students and fellows, and provide a platform for reaching new audiences.”

Typically, HSS has been hosted by a single university, but both Lindee and DiMeo hope that sharing hosting duties between the two organizations sparks further collaboration and learning opportunities.

 “For Penn students—graduate and perhaps even undergraduate—in history and sociology of science, this is an incredible opportunity to learn what it means to work for an academic society and to get skills, experience, and credentials,” Lindee says. “Locating the society here and at the Science History Institute further reinforces the importance of Philadelphia in the field.”

In addition to the Institute and Penn, several other Philadelphia organizations with ties to the history of science wrote in support of the hosting arrangement, including the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; the American Philosophical Society; and Drexel University.

“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about this move,” says Lindee. “It’s allowing us to continue to build a strong disciplinary presence for history of science in Philadelphia.”


With its relocation to Philadelphia, the History of Science Society will have a home base at Penn and the Science History Institute from which to receive support, host events, and interact with the city’s robust scholarly community. Image: Courtesy of HSS