The Dibner History of Science Program


The gift of the Burndy Library adds enormously to The Huntington’s already strong history of science holdings. In 1955, Bern Dibner published The Heralds of Science, a selection of what Dibner considered to be the most important books in the history of science. Of the 200 titles listed, the Huntington Library now has 175. The collection is strong in the early modern history of science (before 1800) as well as in fields as varied as civil engineering, 19th-century chemistry, electricity, and 19th-century oceanography.


The collection is available to scholars in a range of disciplines. Additional support from the Dibner family provides funding for long- and short-term fellowships, an annual conference, a lecture series, and an ongoing seminar. Among the specifics:


  • One Distinguished Fellowship in the history of science per year. The Dibner Distinguished Fellow for 2008–09 is Jan Golinski, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, who is researching “The Making of the Man of Science.” Golinki’s research delves into the practice of science during the Enlightenment.

  • Three long-term fellowships per year (in addition to the preexisting fellowships in science, medicine, and technology). The long-term fellows for 2008–09 are Nicholas Dew, assistant professor, McGill University (“Networks of Knowledge in the French Atlantic World, ca. 1670–1730”); Craig Martin, assistant professor, Oakland University (“Renaissance Meteorology: Causation, Meaning, and Utility”); and H. Darrel Rutkin, visiting scholar, Stanford University (“Reframing the Scientific Revolution: Astrology, Natural Philosophy, and the History of Science, ca. 1250–1750”).

  • An additional 20 months of fellowships per year to be distributed in one- to three-month awards. For 2008–09, the awards have been distributed to 10 professors and doctoral candidates.

  • Three lectures per year, in subjects that include civil engineering and medicine.

  • An annual conference. The first conference is titled “Making Science: Inspiration and Reputation, 1400–1800” and is divided into two parts: Feb. 6–7, 2009, at the Clark Library in Los Angeles; and May 8–9, 2009, at The Huntington. Twenty historians will take part in the proceedings; the conference is being organized by Deborah Harkness (USC) and Mary Terrall (UCLA).

  • An ongoing seminar.

  • A three-year education program related to the Dibner Hall exhibition “Beautiful Science.” The emphasis of this work is on middle- and high-school science education, aligning carefully with particular attention to the California Science Education Standards.


About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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