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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine


CHSTM staff shortly after the Centre's foundation in 1986

The Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine was established at the University of Manchester in 1986. Initially part of the Department of Science and Technology Policy (STP), CHSTM was set up to consolidate and develop work in the histories of science, technology and medicine in Manchester and the surrounding region.

CHSTM had two roots. Jon Harwood was already in STP; John Pickstone moved from UMIST, where he had worked in the Department of History of Science founded by Donald Cardwell, while David Edgerton also joined us from UMIST.

The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, part of CHSTM since its foundation, was funded by the Wellcome Trust on the basis of a research group developed at UMIST which included Roger Cooter and Joan Mottram. The Wellcome Unit developed steadily from 1986, with several Wellcome lectureships by the end of the 1990s.

Work on the physical sciences has been developed from 1992 by Jeff Hughes, following David Edgerton's move to Imperial College London. The UK National Archive for the History of Computing was added in 1987, supported firstly on a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, and later with a lectureship in CHSTM. It has been headed, successively, by Geoff Tweedale, Geof Bowker, Jon Agar, and now James Sumner.

CHSTM 003-library-(2)
A 1990s group, showing the former CHSTM library in the Mathematics Tower

Other historians who have worked in CHSTM, besides the present staff, include Francesca Bray, David Cantor, Colin Divall, Mary Fissell, Penelope Gouk, Steven Jacyna, Mark Jackson, Mark Jenner, Paolo Palladino, Chandak Sengoopta, Steve Sturdy, Bertrand Taithe and Keith Vernon. Close associates include Martin Campbell-Kelly, Bill Luckin and Jack Morrell.

John Pickstone directed the Centre from 1986 until 2002, when Michael Worboys joined us from Sheffield. In 2004, on the unification of UMIST and the Victoria University, CHSTM became part of the Faculty of Life Sciences.

The Centre has always focused on science, technology and medicine since the industrial revolution. Much of its work is now directed to the twentieth century, on which it constitutes one of the world's leading research groups. With the recruitment of David Kirby, we have added a new focus on studying the ways in which science is understood and communicated by, and for, popular audiences.

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