AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXIX , No. 2, Fall 2007

Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science Launches Cooperative Programs

For many years the AIP Center for History of Physics has sponsored a three-year post-doctoral fellow on its staff. Center postdocs have all gone on to productive careers at universities or research and cultural institutions. The Centerís most recent postdoc, Babak Ashrafi, has been selected to lead a new venture that will undertake for the history of science, technology and medicineóbroadly conceivedó in its region many activities similar to those that the Center for History of Physics has undertaken in its fields.

In April 2007 Ashrafi became the first Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science (PACHS). A consortium of cultural and educational institutions founded PACHS in 2006 to create a hub for the study of history of science, technology and medicine, and to build broader audiences for these topics using traditional and new media. In pursuance of this mission, PACHS is establishing a fellowship program for scholars to conduct research in area archives; an events program including public forums and academic conferences; and a website with resources and events for researchers, teachers and learners.

PACHS is a consortium of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute, the Hagley Museum and Library, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. These institutions hold rich collections with millions of manuscript items, printed volumes and artifacts of interest to historians of technology, medicine and science.

The fellowship program will bring internationally recognized scholars, promising young researchers and dissertation students to Philadelphia to participate in PACHS academic and public programming while they conduct research in the areaís exceptionally rich archival resources. In addition to events for scholars, PACHS will make a special effort to offer events that will engage teachers, students and other members of a broader audience. Online events will include streaming video of live events, interactive forums, debates, and interviews that will bring together scholars, students, teachers and learners of all ages. PACHS will produce web exhibits similar to those of the AIP History Center, and a cross-institutional search based on the History Centerís cross-collection search that Ashrafi helped to develop while he was at AIP.

Since several of the members of the PACHS consortium hold important collections in history of physics, PACHS and the AIP look forward to working together to promote scholarly and public understanding of history of physics. Visit

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