BSHS President Dr Patrica Fara writes:

Dear Colleagues

For the last fortnight, I have had the great honour to be the President of the BSHS. When Greg Radick invited me to consider this position, I was delighted, flattered – and also deeply apprehensive about my ability even to approach the extraordinarily high standard he has set. But so far, it’s been a dream job, as my main duty has been attending conferences that the Society has helped to fund. What a pleasure to head an organisation that is (at the moment, anyway) in the happy position of being able to distribute money!

I was officially appointed during the large and extremely successful ‘Science in Public’ conference held at Kent during July; by contrast, last Friday saw me at a small but vibrant workshop packed with enthusiastic specialists on ‘Science and Islands in the Indo-Pacific World.’ On 23 Sep, I strongly recommend you to head towards Reading for ‘Object Lessons and Nature Tables: Research Collaborations between University Museums and Historians of Science’. By an unfortunate coincidence, I will be at the ESHS conference in Prague, when – thanks to the commitment of Frank James and Joe Cain – the BSHS will be putting in a bid to host the 2018 ESHS in London. Whatever form Brexit eventually takes, the BSHS is determined to demonstrate its allegiance to our European associates.

Acting as Vice-President for the past year has made me greatly appreciate the energy and dedication of all the Council members and committee chairs. What a superb team! Sadly, two have just stepped down after several years of sterling effort for which we owe them warm thanks: Richard Noakes as Treasurer and Ben Marsden as chair of the Conferences Committee, who have both given large tranches of time to the Society’s activities.

Fortunately, their places are being taken by two people who I know will prove equally excellent – Miles Parker and Adam Mosley. Council’s first meeting of the academic year was on September 15th, when we also welcomed Martha Fleming and Anna Marie Roos as new members. But of course there is continuity as well: David Beck, Charlotte Sleigh and Jamie Stark remain as Secretary, BJHS Editor, and chair of the Outreach and Education Committee respectively, while Greg takes over as Vice-President. There are also what are officially called ‘Ordinary Members’, although that seems a totally inappropriate label for these exceptional people: Chiara Ambrosio, Erin Beeston, Elizabeth Bruton, Matthew Daniel Eddy, Sean Johnston, Sally Shuttleworth and Ida Stamhuis. We also have a fantastic publicity trio – Jia-Ou Song, Jessica van Horssen and Alice White – who together let the wider world know what we are up to. And then we would all be lost without Lucy Santos, our local expert on charity law, who keeps tabs on everything and makes sure that we are doing the right thing at the right time.

Unlike many meetings, the BSHS Council is exciting (well, most of the time) because the agenda is always packed with innovative ideas and projects. Highlights on Thursday included:

  • A visit from two Outreach Officers at the Royal Society to discuss collaboration between our two Societies
  • An announcement of plans for a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to overhaul the very weak entries currently posted for history of science and its practitioners
  • The launch of our scheme to fund Engagement Fellows – graduate students who will work with museums and heritage organisations
  • Confirmation that Emily Herring will be our new PG ambassador: she will attend the SFHST meeting in November to introduce the UK HPS community
  • A call for 250-word pieces on an unusual or epoch-changing invention during the last sixty years (to be published and paid for!) – enquiries to Jessica Van Horssen [email protected].

One task that nobody warned me about in advance was updating a 40-page document called ‘Principles and Procedures’. If you’d like to read it, I’d be delighted to send you a copy, as it was formally approved by Council on Thursday.  For those of you who prefer a shorter version, this is the three-part summary of the Society’s aims:

A. Strengthening our national professional presence 
B. Strengthening our international presence
C. Making history of science more visible

If you agree with those principles, and if you would like to be more closely involved in the Society’s activities, please contact either me or one of the Council members. Furthermore, if you have some ideas, but don’t have the time or resources to put them into action, then please do get in touch. You have chosen the President and the Council as your representatives, and we want to realise your ambitions for the history of science.

With very best wishes
Patricia Fara