I just want to draw your attention to this blog. Sarah Dry’s book on Newton’s Papers has just been published in the USA, with excellent critiques, and will soon be out in the UK. A must-read for everyone interested in book and manuscript history, the historiography of science and of course Isaac Newton!
It is a perennial problem, the scarcity of women in the history of science.
Some responsibility lies in the present, with historians who may not dig hard enough for the remoter bits of information about women—often the sisters, daughters and wives of more famous men—who had the chance to do something scientific.
But while historians can work harder to pull stories from the past, they cannot create history where there has been none.
And the word chance in my second sentence really is the right word, combining a sense of opportunity with good fortune. It has always taken a fair amount of plain old luck for a woman to be in a position to think about science in a meaningful way. Education, access, and time have always been (and still remain!) hard to align in meaningful quantities.
And so it is not surprising that there are few women in the…
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