Edward Turner, First Professor of Chemistry at UCL

Edward Turner was a Creole. So what?

A historian colleague of mine recently asked if I knew anything about the genealogy of UCL’s first Professor of Chemistry, Edward Turner (1796-1837). This colleague said he had heard a report that Turner was mixed race, the son of a Creole mother. Being a careful and critical historian, my friend wanted to know about evidence. We both understood this would be an exciting piece of…

Image from Cover - Farrall 2019 English Eugenics Movement 9781787510012

Farrall’s (1969) History of English Eugenics, 1865-1925, republished

The history of eugenics in Britain is far from hidden or forgotten. Many excellent papers and books explore the role of individuals (e.g., Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, Ronald Fisher, and Leonard Darwin to name only a few of the men involved) and the role of organisations (e.g., Eugenics Education Society). Eugenics in Britain has been studied in depth with an emphasis on class, gender, race,…

Karl Pearson and Francis Galton

Show Me the Eugenics Money, part 1

Francis Galton’s Will left money to University of London “for establishment and endowment of a Professorship” related to eugenics. This blog gives the text of the original donation.

HPSCGA24 Science in the Nineteenth Century | Professor Joe Cain | UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)

HPSC0081 Science in the Nineteenth Century (Teaching)

The nineteenth century saw the origin of much of what we might identify as “modern” scientific and technological research and practice. Laboratories, factories explorations, empires – all had scientific significance and all were paramount in nineteenth century science. This is also perhaps the period which has enjoyed most sustained attention from historians of science. This course will give a critical introduction to some major themes…

George Gaylord Simpson, 1956 (courtesy American Philosophical Society Library).

George Gaylord Simpson’s “Night Thoughts on Leaving the American Museum,” 1959

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was a leader in twentieth century vertebrate palaeontology, and he contributed to making the American Museum of Natural History a powerhouse in the field. In 1959, Simpson left his job at the museum in a bitter dispute with its management. Simpson never published a rationale for his resignation, but he secretly wrote one. After his first day unemployed, Simpson penned a…

Brocks Illuminations 1906 postcard

Dissertations and Research Projects (Master’s)

Postgraduate taught students in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) undertake summer research projects resulting in dissertations or research reports. Professor Joe Cain supervises some students in this work, as do all academic staff in STS. The formal UCL module codes include: HPSC0097 Research Projects (formerly HPSCGA98) For students undertaking: History and Philosophy of Science MSc Science, Technology, and Society MSc Role as supervisor…

The anatomist overtaken by the watch carrying off Miss W-ts in a hamper

Corruption Exposed in Body-Snatching Business, 1825

In Britain, body-snatching was a cloak-and-dagger business. It also was corrupt. When her husband was arrested, tried, and executed for crimes associated with body-snatching, Ann Millard sought revenge. To her mind, local officials were complicit in the theft of bodies and their subsequent sale to anatomists. So were the medical schools where bodies often arrived in the middle of the night without explanation. While her…

Spiral galaxy (NASA)

Music of the Stars – Live Performance Celebrating History of Astronomy

In May 2011, Dr Silvia De Bianchi organised the workshop, “The Harmony of the Sphere: Kant and Herschel on the universe and the Astronomical Phenomena” at UCL. This brought together research on Kant, Herschel, and astronomy. The workshop culminated in a musical programme featuring original interpretations of compositions produced to honour astronomy and astronomical reflections. The music was recorded and produced by UCL Department of Science and…