“Science and technology are so integral to the way our own society functions that suddenly people are interested and the field,” says Appuhn, who works on environmental history and the history of science, technology, and medicine. “It’s important to maintain our position as the preeminent nation of science and technology.”
But what exactly is a science historian? What does that discipline look like? And why does it matter, both to history and to science?
“I’m not even sure that my mother knows what I do,” says Robert J. Malone, executive director of the History of Science Society (HSS). “Historians are confused because they’re not quite sure if we’re historians or scientists. And then scientists—I think for maybe some justifiable reasons—are leery, because what we’re doing is looking at practice and looking at how they do things, and I think that can make individuals uncomfortable.”