Preparing for the Three Societies (US, British, Canadian joint history of science meeting)

I have now reached Philadelphia, continuing research on Lewis and Clark (see previous post) and awaiting the Three Societies meeting, which starts on Wednesday. I am part of a session relating to the Longitude Project, called ‘Defining the Instrumental: Navigation, Longitude and Science at Sea in the 18th Century’. The full programme of the meeting can be found here, and I have posted the session and paper abstracts over on the Longitude Project Blog.

The Three Societies meeting is a quadrennial joint meeting of the History of Science SocietyBritish Society for the History of Science and Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, hosted by each society in turn. There is a St Louis Cardinals baseball bat that is ceremonially handed over from one society president to the next, which must have started life at the HSS-hosted event of 2000, at the Hyatt Union Station, St Louis (it was hot then, too – the British delegates found it tough going!).

This was not, however, the first of these meetings. You’ll see from the list here that a joint HSS-BSHS meeting was held in Manchester in 1988 and that the three societies have met up since then in Toronto (1992), Edinburgh (1996), St Louis (2000), Halifax, Nova Scotia (2004), Oxford (2008) and now Philadelphia (2012).

I have been in this business long enough to have been to three of these meetings, which is a sobering thought. The previous two mark important junctures in my life. At Halifax (a lovely place, if you haven’t been, full of pubs, book shops and maritime history) I was in possession of a brand new doctorate and, although unemployed, happy to be presenting on new, spin-off research.

Before the Oxford meeting I got my postdoc job in Edinburgh, but by summer 2008 I was a (relatively) new mother and starting a brand new career as a curator. Apart from a talk at the NMM, this was my come-back gig. On the back of my research on the history of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, I joined a session organised by Aileen Fyfe on ‘Science and Victorian Tourism’.

Aileen was a much newer mother than I was at that meeting. There is a photograph in the relevant issue  of Viewpoint, the BSHS newsletter, recording the fact that three of us (me, Aileen and Emily Winterburn) were there at the meeting with babies. We were all recipients of the BSHS’s Care Grants, which allowed us to pay for childcare during the sessions themselves. Kudos to Emily, though, who gave her talk with her baby in a sling!

Not sure that this 2012 meeting marks such a transition point, unless it is the large amount of time I’ve been away sans little one. I’m certainly looking forward to the talks, tours and sociability. More anon.

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