Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments As researchers at Harvard have advanced the sciences, the artifacts of their work continue to inform. Harvard University has been acquiring scientific instruments on a continuous basis for teaching and research since 1672.

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, which was established in 1948 to preserve this apparatus as a resource for teaching and research in the history of science and technology, has become one of the three largest university collections of its kind in the world. Originally associated with the Harvard library system, the Collection was placed under the stewardship of the Department of

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, which was established in 1948 to preserve this apparatus as a resource for teaching and research in the history of science and technology, has become one of the three largest university collections of its kind in the world. Originally associated with the Harvard library system, the Collection was placed under the stewardship of the Department of

Operating as usual

Visit our galleries again starting Friday, November 26! We can't wait to see visitors again. Reserve your spot here: htt...
11/21/2021

Visit our galleries again starting Friday, November 26! We can't wait to see visitors again. Reserve your spot here: https://tinyurl.com/HMSCVisit.

Free admission. Hours are Sunday–Friday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm EST. We are closed December 24, December 25, and January 1.

Visit our galleries again starting Friday, November 26! We can't wait to see visitors again. Reserve your spot here: https://tinyurl.com/HMSCVisit.

Free admission. Hours are Sunday–Friday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm EST. We are closed December 24, December 25, and January 1.

The #Museum30 theme for today is “artwork.” Our online exhibit “The Interpretation of Drawings: Freud & the Visual Origi...
11/12/2021

The #Museum30 theme for today is “artwork.” Our online exhibit “The Interpretation of Drawings: Freud & the Visual Origins of Psychoanalysis" invites virtual visitors to engage with guided interactive images of Sigmund Freud’s earliest drawings, scientific papers, letters, and collected works of art. The exhibit offers sometimes surprising insight into the man (and the psyche!) behind some of the most debated therapeutic techniques ever developed. Explore here: http://bit.ly/FreudExhibitCHSI

The #Museum30 theme for today is “artwork.” Our online exhibit “The Interpretation of Drawings: Freud & the Visual Origins of Psychoanalysis" invites virtual visitors to engage with guided interactive images of Sigmund Freud’s earliest drawings, scientific papers, letters, and collected works of art. The exhibit offers sometimes surprising insight into the man (and the psyche!) behind some of the most debated therapeutic techniques ever developed. Explore here: http://bit.ly/FreudExhibitCHSI

One of the resources that lends special value to our Collection is its accompanying library of information about the ins...
11/05/2021

One of the resources that lends special value to our Collection is its accompanying library of information about the instruments, their makers, and the culture of learning and innovation that inspired their creation and use. Items such as trade catalogs, manuals, and subject treatises provide thrilling context to researchers.

Volumes like “A Compleat System of Opticks, in Four Books, by Robert Smith, 1738” have come to us via the private collection of CHSI's esteemed founder, David P. Wheatland. They add special dimension to our mission of preservation and learning...and they're wonderful to hold (with white gloves, of course!). 😁 #ArchivesBookLove #ArchivesHashtagParty

We are pleased to co-present a special, free, virtual lecture on museum history featuring speaker Professor Reed Gochber...
11/04/2021

We are pleased to co-present a special, free, virtual lecture on museum history featuring speaker Professor Reed Gochberg and Harvard Museums of Science & Culture Executive Director Brenda Tindal. Register for the event to take place on November 17th: https://bit.ly/UsefulObjectsLecture.

What can the history of museums tell us about their role in American culture today, and what kinds of objects were considered worth collecting, and who decided their value?

Join Reed Gochberg, Assistant Director of Studies and Lecturer on History and Literature, Harvard, and author of Useful Objects: Museums, Science, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press), September 2021), to learn about the early history of American museums, including Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

In conversation with Harvard Museums of Science & Culture Executive Director Brenda Tindal she will examine how writers and visitors reflected on a wide range of 19th century collections—and how their ideas continue to inform ongoing debates about the challenges and possibilities museums face today.

Free Virtual Public Lecture. Wednesday, November 17, 4:30pm to 5:45pm. Advance Registration Required: https://bit.ly/UsefulObjectsLecture

Check it out! Professor Gochberg also recently guest curated the online exhibit Women of the Museum, 1860–1920: https://bit.ly/WomenoftheMuseum.

David P. Wheatland Curator Sara Schechner recently welcomed one of CHSI's much esteemed friends to the Putnam Gallery: n...
11/04/2021

David P. Wheatland Curator Sara Schechner recently welcomed one of CHSI's much esteemed friends to the Putnam Gallery: none other than our favorite 18th century "personal shopper," Benjamin Franklin! Talented actor and keen "Franklin-ologist" Mitchell Kramer stopped by to channel Franklin's presence in the presence of scientific instruments purchased by the founding father on Harvard's behalf. Hail Fellow well met!

David P. Wheatland Curator Sara Schechner recently welcomed one of CHSI's much esteemed friends to the Putnam Gallery: none other than our favorite 18th century "personal shopper," Benjamin Franklin! Talented actor and keen "Franklin-ologist" Mitchell Kramer stopped by to channel Franklin's presence in the presence of scientific instruments purchased by the founding father on Harvard's behalf. Hail Fellow well met!

Nothing strange here on this Halloween! This larger than life size clastic model of the human eye, circa 1925, is made o...
10/31/2021

Nothing strange here on this Halloween! This larger than life size clastic model of the human eye, circa 1925, is made of painted plaster and glass, and was used to teach the anatomy and physiology of the eye.

The top of the eyeball is removable (eek!), and reveals a hollow glass structure representing the vitreous body. Inside, a solid glass disc represents the lens, while the pupil and iris are made out of a removable disk of painted copper. Letters of the alphabet are added at several places to identify specific parts of the eye. Take a closer look: https://bit.ly/ClasticEyeModelCHSI

Inventory Number: 1996-1-0613
Classification: Anatomical model
Maker: Cambridge Botanical Supply Company (Waverley, MA)

Nothing strange here on this Halloween! This larger than life size clastic model of the human eye, circa 1925, is made of painted plaster and glass, and was used to teach the anatomy and physiology of the eye.

The top of the eyeball is removable (eek!), and reveals a hollow glass structure representing the vitreous body. Inside, a solid glass disc represents the lens, while the pupil and iris are made out of a removable disk of painted copper. Letters of the alphabet are added at several places to identify specific parts of the eye. Take a closer look: https://bit.ly/ClasticEyeModelCHSI

Inventory Number: 1996-1-0613
Classification: Anatomical model
Maker: Cambridge Botanical Supply Company (Waverley, MA)

On this #AnimationDay we are celebrating the inception of the zoetrope, one of the early symbols of animated art.This zo...
10/28/2021

On this #AnimationDay we are celebrating the inception of the zoetrope, one of the early symbols of animated art.

This zoetrope from our Putnam Gallery was created by Max Kohl in 1875, and features a reversible “movie strip” called “Magic Ocean,” (download the coloring page: https://bit.ly/HMSCConnectsDrawingUponTheCollections) which depicts a whale happily diving and surfacing as a seagull flies by. On the reverse is “Chewing Gum.”

Originally called a “wheel of the devil” by its inventor William George Horner, the zoetrope was patented in the U.S. in 1867 as a “wheel of life.” The zoetrope was invented as a device used to play with the idea of persistence of vision, or the way the mind infers motion from an interrupted series of slightly different images. When figures on a strip placed inside the drum are viewed through the slots of the rotating drum, they appear to move.

The zoetrope was also used in the Psychology Laboratory at Harvard to explore emotional reactions to the content of the movie strips. Explore more on Waywiser: https://bit.ly/CHSIZoetropeWaywiser.

On this #AnimationDay we are celebrating the inception of the zoetrope, one of the early symbols of animated art.

This zoetrope from our Putnam Gallery was created by Max Kohl in 1875, and features a reversible “movie strip” called “Magic Ocean,” (download the coloring page: https://bit.ly/HMSCConnectsDrawingUponTheCollections) which depicts a whale happily diving and surfacing as a seagull flies by. On the reverse is “Chewing Gum.”

Originally called a “wheel of the devil” by its inventor William George Horner, the zoetrope was patented in the U.S. in 1867 as a “wheel of life.” The zoetrope was invented as a device used to play with the idea of persistence of vision, or the way the mind infers motion from an interrupted series of slightly different images. When figures on a strip placed inside the drum are viewed through the slots of the rotating drum, they appear to move.

The zoetrope was also used in the Psychology Laboratory at Harvard to explore emotional reactions to the content of the movie strips. Explore more on Waywiser: https://bit.ly/CHSIZoetropeWaywiser.

Renowned physicist (and former Harvard professor) Dr. Robert R. Wilson helped build Fermilab, one of the world's most po...
10/25/2021

Renowned physicist (and former Harvard professor) Dr. Robert R. Wilson helped build Fermilab, one of the world's most powerful particle smashers, in a setting he insisted be surrounded by restored prairies and enriched by striking architecture and objects of art, many of his own design. https://bit.ly/2ZljDLF

Wilson gifted one of his pieces to Harvard: a gleaming bronze sculpture which now resides in front of our Putnam Gallery. Titled "Topological III," it is a three-dimensional analog of a Möbius strip. Its cross section is an equilateral triangle, a shape that is retained along a circular path, rotating through 120 degrees before the ends meet to form a complete loop. Instead of three surfaces, the final product has one continuous surface that runs three times around the loop. It is a beautiful evocation of the relationship between space and mathematics, art and science. #InternationalArtistDay #ArtistDay

Renowned physicist (and former Harvard professor) Dr. Robert R. Wilson helped build Fermilab, one of the world's most powerful particle smashers, in a setting he insisted be surrounded by restored prairies and enriched by striking architecture and objects of art, many of his own design. https://bit.ly/2ZljDLF

Wilson gifted one of his pieces to Harvard: a gleaming bronze sculpture which now resides in front of our Putnam Gallery. Titled "Topological III," it is a three-dimensional analog of a Möbius strip. Its cross section is an equilateral triangle, a shape that is retained along a circular path, rotating through 120 degrees before the ends meet to form a complete loop. Instead of three surfaces, the final product has one continuous surface that runs three times around the loop. It is a beautiful evocation of the relationship between space and mathematics, art and science. #InternationalArtistDay #ArtistDay

We've all done it: we are happily typing along and realize the cursed caps lock key is on. Expletive (and all our recent...
10/22/2021

We've all done it: we are happily typing along and realize the cursed caps lock key is on. Expletive (and all our recent work) deleted! This Hammond Multiplex Closed Universal Typewriter, c. 1923, has a control key on either end of the bottom row, both labeled "CAP." "Universal" indicates that the keys are in straight lines, rather than curved around the machine, and "Closed" refers to the instrument's main components being encased within the main body.

This typewriter was purchased by Harvard's Department of Mineralogy. While its built-in carrying case made it portable, at 18 lbs, a featherweight laptop it is not. Perhaps it was suited for use by geologists, a group well used to wielding heavy equipment.

Here is former British journalist Richard Milton's history of inventor James Hammond, the Hammond Typewriter Company, and glamor shots of their other machines: https://bit.ly/3AY9uRJ. More about our Hammond Multiplex in Waywiser: https://bit.ly/3aFF2RT. Mind the caps lock!

We've all done it: we are happily typing along and realize the cursed caps lock key is on. Expletive (and all our recent work) deleted! This Hammond Multiplex Closed Universal Typewriter, c. 1923, has a control key on either end of the bottom row, both labeled "CAP." "Universal" indicates that the keys are in straight lines, rather than curved around the machine, and "Closed" refers to the instrument's main components being encased within the main body.

This typewriter was purchased by Harvard's Department of Mineralogy. While its built-in carrying case made it portable, at 18 lbs, a featherweight laptop it is not. Perhaps it was suited for use by geologists, a group well used to wielding heavy equipment.

Here is former British journalist Richard Milton's history of inventor James Hammond, the Hammond Typewriter Company, and glamor shots of their other machines: https://bit.ly/3AY9uRJ. More about our Hammond Multiplex in Waywiser: https://bit.ly/3aFF2RT. Mind the caps lock!

Our Harvard History of Science colleague Professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga was interviewed by Jennifer Berglund, host of t...
10/20/2021

Our Harvard History of Science colleague Professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga was interviewed by Jennifer Berglund, host of the HMSC Connects! #podcast about her research on the history of medicine, science, and technology in Mexico. She says, “There's a problem with having a single story. In order for it to work, in order for it to survive, it has to be based on exclusion. I think to bring in these narratives, it's about creating a much more inclusive society. That can only make us richer as a society.”

Listen to the full episode: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast

In connection with the new Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology exhibition Muchos Mexicos: The Crossroads of the Americas, host Jennifer Berglund interviews Gabriela Soto Laveaga, Professor of the Harvard Department of the History of Science and Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard. Jennifer and Gabriela discuss some of the ways in which narratives about scientific discovery and innovation in Mexico have become mostly forgotten in the course of history, overshadowed by other narratives that celebrate mostly American or European accomplishments.

Professor Soto Laveaga on the narrative around the history of science in Mexico: “There's a problem with having a single story. In order for it to work, in order for it to survive, it has to be based on exclusion. I think to bring in these narratives, it's about creating a much more inclusive society. That can only make us richer as a society.”

Listen to the full episode: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast

Most people remember getting their very first camera, whether it was a Fisher Price model or a Polaroid. On this #ToyCam...
10/17/2021

Most people remember getting their very first camera, whether it was a Fisher Price model or a Polaroid. On this #ToyCameraDay we are saying "Cheese!" to this Kodak No. 2 Brownie camera, originally sold for $2.00, or $2.75 for the color model.

This camera was produced by Kodak as a part of the successful and cheap series of Brownie Cameras during the early-mid 20th century. It was discontinued in the US and Canada in 1933 to make way for newer inventions from the Eastman Kodak company, like the popular Instamatic. The film depicted here was not produced until the 1950s. Learn more about this camera on Waywiser: https://bit.ly/3lGCo4B.

Three cheers and a tiger for October 12, Ada Lovelace Day!In addition to being an accomplished mathematician, Ada Lovela...
10/13/2021

Three cheers and a tiger for October 12, Ada Lovelace Day!

In addition to being an accomplished mathematician, Ada Lovelace was the only daughter of English poet Lord Byron and a mathematician mother (who indulged Ada's childhood interest in the field.). As an adult, Ada cultivated numerous scientific correspondents, including Charles Babbage, originator of the first mechanical computer, called a difference engine. Our collection holds a fragment of the device Babbage designed but never completed.

Babbage's difference engine was the precursor to his Analytical Engine, a much more complex device that was able to be programmed using punch cards. Ada envisioned a future for such devices far beyond high-order math. She went so far as to write an algorithm to be carried out by Babbage's device, an act placing her amidst the world's first computer programmers. https://bit.ly/3uRP3EZ #AdaLovelaceDay

Three cheers and a tiger for October 12, Ada Lovelace Day!

In addition to being an accomplished mathematician, Ada Lovelace was the only daughter of English poet Lord Byron and a mathematician mother (who indulged Ada's childhood interest in the field.). As an adult, Ada cultivated numerous scientific correspondents, including Charles Babbage, originator of the first mechanical computer, called a difference engine. Our collection holds a fragment of the device Babbage designed but never completed.

Babbage's difference engine was the precursor to his Analytical Engine, a much more complex device that was able to be programmed using punch cards. Ada envisioned a future for such devices far beyond high-order math. She went so far as to write an algorithm to be carried out by Babbage's device, an act placing her amidst the world's first computer programmers. https://bit.ly/3uRP3EZ #AdaLovelaceDay

Happy World Space Week! The 2021 theme is "Women in Space." Along this theme we are paying tribute to Williamina Fleming...
10/08/2021

Happy World Space Week! The 2021 theme is "Women in Space." Along this theme we are paying tribute to Williamina Fleming, a Scottish immigrant who was originally hired as a maid by Professor Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory.

She went on to become the head of the "Harvard computers," a team of women who interpreted the observations of male astronomers in the late 1800s.

She and her team are mentioned in "Time, Life, & Matter" in our Putnam Gallery, and the attached photo (with her standing in the background) is part of the display. More objects in our collection: https://bit.ly/WilliaminaFlemingCHSI. #WSW2021 #WomeninSpaceWSW

Happy World Space Week! The 2021 theme is "Women in Space." Along this theme we are paying tribute to Williamina Fleming, a Scottish immigrant who was originally hired as a maid by Professor Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory.

She went on to become the head of the "Harvard computers," a team of women who interpreted the observations of male astronomers in the late 1800s.

She and her team are mentioned in "Time, Life, & Matter" in our Putnam Gallery, and the attached photo (with her standing in the background) is part of the display. More objects in our collection: https://bit.ly/WilliaminaFlemingCHSI. #WSW2021 #WomeninSpaceWSW

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Celebrate the #FirstDayofFall by taking a gander at the handsome features of this 17th century brass sundial from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, featuring a calendar that runs from the fall equinox to the winter solstice. https://bit.ly/3ArwOYA
Happy #WomensEqualityDay! We are celebrating perspectives from women working in scientific fields in academia with a throwback to two recent HMSC Connects! podcast episodes. Host Jennifer Berglund speaks with Sara Schechner, David P. Wheatland Curator, Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and lecturer, Harvard Department of the History of Science, about her time studying physics as a Radcliffe student in the 1970s. Jennifer also interviews Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Chair of the Department of the History of Science at Harvard, about her rise in academia and her work as a consultant to Margot Shetterly, the author of Hidden Figures (and more). Listen to the full episodes here: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast. #ThrowbackThursday #podcast Image of Sara in 1980, in Cambridge, England, as a grad student in History and Philosophy of Science. Credit to Sara Schechner. Hammonds image credit: Don West, fotografiks.
A #MuseumMomentofZen and coloring page activity from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.
The "Space Race" of the 1960s encapsulated in an educational moon toy from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. 🌚
Interesting trivia from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments for #MeteorWatchDay. It looks like the next meteor shower visible in New England will be the Delta Aquariids in late July. Best time for viewing is predawn!
Do you still use a Polaroid, or instant, camera? Explore more about this large format Polaroid from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments collections. #CameraDay #MuseumFromHome
Learn about what a perfusion pump does, and the famous invention of Alexis and Charles Lindbergh (yes, that Charles Lindbergh), for National #InventorsMonth, via the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.
Hello all, Waywiser has been down for a few days now. Are you making an update of the system? Just thought you would want to know. all best!
Listen to the latest episode of the HMSC Connects! podcast - an interview with the Peter Galsion, the Director of our partner museum the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast
In this week’s episode of our HMSC Connects! podcast host Jennifer Berglund speaks with Peter Galison, Director of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and Pellegrino University Professor of the Harvard Department of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard. He is also co-founder of the Black Hole Initiative - Harvard University which, with the internationally-based Event Horizon Telescope project, successfully captured an image of a black hole in 2019. The discovery also inspired Galison’s recent film The Edge of All We Know. In their conversation Galison and Berglund discuss the collaborative nature of scientific inquiry, contextualizing scientific research at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, and the topics of his other films and books, such as nuclear waste, government secrecy, and the microscopic world. Galison on the future of black hole research: “Black holes are the darkest object in the universe but they … are kind of our lighthouses from the edge of the visible universe. If we could study many black holes we could begin to understand the demography of them. That's one of the things that we can hope from this first image (of a black hole) — that this will lead to many other developments in science that will tell us about their formation, how they work, and how they act on the universe.” Listen to the full episode: https://bit.ly/HMSCconnectspodcast Image credits: Photo of Peter Galison: Professor Paul Horowitz; photo of Black Hole Credit: EHT Collaboration. #HMSCconnects #podcast #museumpodcast
Happy #TrainDay from the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.