In her 1987 evaluation of the history of Schleiden and Schwann's cell theory, the late Ilse Jahn pointed out that in Berlin in the 1830s and 1840s there were a lot of scientists using advanced microscopes, many of whom were clustered around the Gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin. So how much did their microscopes cost? And why was this important in the history of biology?
Here's a book I stumbled upon today that I wish I knew about a long time ago: Gavin Bridson's The History of Natural History: An Annotated Bibliography. It's not just a bibliography of natural history resources, it's a bibliography of history of natural history resources, which means this should go on the top of any … Continue reading Gavin Bridson, The History of Natural History: An Annotated Bibliography (1994)
Not infrequently, histories of cell theory will mention Jan Purkyně (1787–1869) and his student Gabriel Gustav Valentin (1810–1883) as important forerunners to Schleiden and Schwann. Years before Schleiden’s 1838 “Beiträge zur Phytogenesis” and Schwann’s 1839 Mikroskopische Untersuchungen, Purkyně and Valentin both observed nuclei in animal cells, and both suggested a possible homology between plant cells … Continue reading Cell theory historiography and Gustav Gabriel Valentin’s Histiogeniae plantarum atque animalium (Histiogenia comparata) of 1835/37
Dieter Gerlach's book Geschichte der Mikroskopie (2009) is far and away the best single reference work on the history of microscopy.* It is also long out of print: the publisher Verlag Harri Deutsch closed its doors in 2013, and Dr. Gerlach passed away in 2015. Geschichte der Mikroskopie was clearly a labor of love and … Continue reading CD-ROM 💿 for Dieter Gerlach’s Geschichte der Mikroskopie (2009)
In May 2022 Karl Matlin invited a few of us — Hanna Worliczek, Andrew Reynolds, Gina Surita, Anna Guerrero, and Jane Maienschein — out to the MBL to discuss our ideas for the future of the historiography of cell biology. I made some slides and pedantic comments. I thought I'd share my slides on what … Continue reading Core historiography on 19th century cell theory