Catalogue Information - Margaret Osler Papers

Margaret Osler (1942-2010) was a historian of science and philosophy who published widely on the scientific revolution and on the connection between religion and early science. In her two books and more than 125 articles, Osler focused in particular on the work of Pierre Gassendi, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. Osler was a member of the faculty at the University of Calgary for thirty-five years.

32 linear feet, 64 boxes

Content Description

The Margaret Osler Papers include correspondence, manuscripts, research notes and photographs documenting Osler's scholarly activities and personal affairs. One highlight of the collection is Osler's extensive though not complete translation of Pierre Gassendi's Syntagma Philosophicum, a translation that was never published. The papers also include a large volume of correspondence between Osler and her parents, as well as a wide array of manuscripts and subject files related to Osler's scholarly interests. An extensive photograph collection rounds out the collection.

Biographical Note

Dr. Margaret Jo Osler was born on November 27, 1942 in New York City, New York. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Osler went on her earn her M. A. and Ph. D. from Indiana University in 1966 and 1968, respectively. She completed her doctoral thesis, John Locke and Some Philosophical Problems in the Science of Boyle and Newton, under the supervision of historian Richard S. Westfall.

Osler was hired by Oregon State University as an Assistant Professor immediately after completing her studies at Indiana. She went on to teach briefly at Harvey Mudd College and Wake Forest University before finding her permanent academic home at the University of Calgary, where she taught History of Science (1975-2010) and Philosophy (1998-2008).

A prolific author, Osler wrote two books, edited four and published over 125 articles, essays and reviews in prominent journals including Notes and Records of the Historical Society of London, Isis and The British Journal for the History of Philosophy. In addition to her published works, Osler wrote at least as many unpublished papers and essays that she presented at various symposia and conferences. Much of her work focused on the scientific revolution - specifically on religion and its connection to early science, with an emphasis on the work of scientists and philosophers Pierre Gassendi, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton.

Osler died of pancreatic cancer in September 2010 at the age of 69, just three months after the publication of her second book, Reconfiguring the World: Nature, God, and Human Understanding in Early Modern Europe.

Timeline for Margaret Osler

1942 Margaret Jo Osler is born on November 27 in New York City, NY, to Abraham and Sonia Osler. The Oslers move to Baltimore, MD shortly thereafter, where Margaret is raised.
1959 Graduates from Forest Park High School in Baltimore.
During her adolescence in Baltimore, Osler becomes involved in the civil rights movement.
1963 Graduates from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Accepted into Indiana University’s graduate program, where her graduate supervisor is noted historian of science Richard S. Westfall.
1965 Becomes a member of the History of Science Society.
1966 At Indiana University, receives her Master of Arts in History and Philosophy of Science after completing her thesis, Pierre Gassendi: A Study of the Philosophical Foundations of the New Science.
Awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.
1967 Receives a Research Assistantship in Indiana University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science.
1968 Receives her Ph. D. from Indiana University after completing her doctoral dissertation, titled John Locke and Some Philosophical Problems in the Science of Boyle and Newton.
Accepts a dual teaching position as Assistant Professor of the History of Science and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University.
1970 Hired as an Assistant Professor of History at Harvey Mudd College.
1974 Accepts a one-year teaching position at Wake Forest University as Assistant Professor of History.
Collaborating with James Brookes Spencer, Osler publishes an article, "Physical Sciences, History of," in Encyclopædia Brittanica.
1975 Accepts the position of Assistant Professor of History at the University of Calgary.
Wallace Hooper becomes the first graduate student whose thesis is supervised by Osler.
1977 Promoted to Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary.
1979 Contributes to a book of essays titled Probability, Time and Space in Eighteenth-Century Literature.
1989 Awarded the Izaak Walton Killam Resident Fellowship by the University of Calgary.
1991 Organizes a conference, "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge."
1994 Publishes her first book, Divine Will and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gassendi and Descartes on Contingency and Necessity in the Created World.
1995 Promoted to Full Professor of History at the University of Calgary.
1996 Awarded a research grant by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
In the same year, Osler also receives a fellowship from The National Endowment for the Humanities.
1997 Awarded an Annual Fellowship from The Calgary Institute for the Humanities.
1998 Accepts a second teaching position at the University of Calgary as Adjunct Professor of Philosophy.
2002 Offered a three-year term as an advisory editor of Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society.
Dr. Betty Flagler, Osler's friend and life partner, dies at the age of 55.
2004 Attends a doctoral seminar at the Centro Interdepartmentale di Studi su Descartes e il Seicento, University of Lecce, Lecce, Italy.
Divine Will and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gassendi and Descartes on Contingency and Necessity in the Created World is reprinted.
2010 Publishes her second book, Reconfiguring the World: Nature, God, and Human Understanding in Early Modern Europe. It is released in July.
On September 15, Margaret Osler dies, shortly after receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Books by Margaret Osler

  • Marsha P. Hannen, Margaret J. Osler and Robert G. Weyant, eds. Science, pseudo-science and society. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1980.
  • Osler, Margaret J. and Paul Lawrence Farber, eds. Religion, Science, and Worldview: Essays in Honor of Richard S. Westfall. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  • Osler, Margaret J., ed. Atoms, Pneuma and Tranquillity: Epicurean and Stoic Themes in European Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Osler, Margaret J. Divine Will and the Mechanical Philosophy: Gassendi and Descartes on Contingency and Necessity in the Created World. Cambridge, England; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Osler, Margaret J., ed. Rethinking the Scientific Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Brooke, John Hedley, Margaret J. Osler and Jitse M. van der Meer, eds. Science in Theistic Contexts: Cognitive Dimensions. Osiris, 16, University of Chicago Press, 2001.
  • Osler, Margaret J. Reconfiguring the World: Nature, God, and Human Understanding in Early Modern Europe. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

Arrangement

The Margaret Osler Papers are arranged into six series: Correspondence; Biographical Materials; Academia, Subject Files and Research Materials; Manuscripts, Articles and Books; and Photographs. Materials are organized either chronologically or alphabetically by subject heading, as appropriate.

Subject Terms

The following Library of Congress Authorities headings suggest topics, individuals or organizations interspersed through the collection.

Personal Names

  • Boyle, Robert, 1627-1691
  • Farber, Paul Lawrence, 1944-
  • Gassendi, Pierre, 1592-1655
  • Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727
  • Osler, Margaret J., 1942- -- Archive
  • Westfall, Richard S.

Organizational Names

  • History of Science Society
  • Indiana University.
  • University of Calgary

Subject Terms

  • Science--History.
  • Science--History--17th century
  • Science--Philosophy--History.
  • Religion and science.

Restrictions on Access

Permission to examine the Margaret Osler Papers will be granted to qualified researchers upon completion of an "Application for Use" form, and contingent upon the researcher's agreement to abide by the rules and policies governing collection use. See the Use of Collections page for more information.

Restrictions on Use

Access to Margaret Osler's diary is restricted until January 2030.

Technical Access

Physical quality of materials in the Margaret Osler Papers ranges from good to very good.

Preferred Citation

Courtesy of the Margaret Osler Papers, Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries.

Processing Information

Preliminary arrangement by Christy Turner and John Ngo. Final arrangement by Chris Petersen.

Acquisition Information

Forty linear feet of assorted archival materials were accessioned from the estate of Margaret Osler by the OSU Libraries Special Collections on November 29, 2010.

One folder of correspondence was accessioned from Paul Farber by the OSU Libraries Special Collections on January 5, 2011.

Four linear feet of photographs and correspondence were accessioned from Francine Michaud, University of Calgary, by the OSU Libraries Special Collections on May 25, 2011.

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