Department of History Oregon State University Corvallis
With this last issue of Volume 44, my six year term as Editor concludes.
Michael Dietrich will become Editor in January, 2012, and the journal will
move from Oregon State University to Dartmouth College. Ginny
Domka, our Managing Editor, will also be concluding her term of service.
Those of you who have corresponded with the journal, or who have
published there, will be aware of the excellent job she has done in shepherding
manuscripts through the editorial process, and answering questions. She
has similarly been a welcoming and nurturing presence at professional
meetings, and has helped to contribute to the reputation of the journal as a
publication that welcomes and encourages serious scholarship from a wide
range of authors. Oregon State University has been generous in its support
of the journal. The Department of History has supplied space and financial
assistance, and the Provost and Research Office have provided additional
funds that have made conditions in the editorial office optimal. In these
days of tight budgets, such institutional support is not to be taken for
granted, and I greatly appreciate the support we have had at OSU.
I was a graduate student at Indiana University when Everett
Mendelsohn published the first issue of the JHB (two issues a year back
then), and the first article I published (1972) was in his journal. So, my
entire career has, in a sense, been tied to this journal. I am far from
alone in this. In looking over the issues of the JHB, from 1968 to 2011,
one sees among the authors an international array of scholars, and also
that the journal has often served as a debut publication. The articles,
taken together, reflect the history of the emergence of the history of
biology as a sub-discipline during the past four decades. The journal,
of course, also mirrors changes in the broader discipline of history of
science, although without the Sturm und Drang we have occasionally
experienced at meetings. The early years of this journal, like the general
field of history of science, show the dominant influence of intellectual
history, and in subsequent decades a gradual expansion of perspectives
enlarged its scope. Although the journal has not been the locus of deep
theoretical debate, implicit in the range of its articles has been an
evolutionary development that suggests a growing maturity of the field.
Social history, cultural history, philosophy of science, science policy
studies, and technical and intellectual history have come together in
different ways to produce sophisticated and exemplary scholarship.
Such synthetic work raises the level of discourse, deepens our
understanding, and augurs well for the future.
Contributors and readers of the JHB have been, and continue to be,
highly diverse, and that strength has helped define the journal which
supplies overviews as well as building blocks for understanding the rich
history of the life sciences and its place in its cultural setting. The
strength of a journal ultimately depends upon the quality and efforts of
the contributors, and in that the JHB has been very fortunate. New
technologies, some made available by the publisher, have enhanced the
effectiveness of individual articles and have extended communication.
Social media like Facebook are also beginning to contribute to
strengthening the ties among those interested in the history of the life
sciences. In the future, it will do so even more. We find ourselves, then,