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Mary Jo Nye Papers, 1986-1997

By Finding aid prepared by Trevor Sandgathe.

Collection Overview

Title: Mary Jo Nye Papers, 1986-1997


Primary Creator: Nye, Mary Jo

Extent: 17.0 cubic feet

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


Dr. Mary Jo Nye (b. 1944) is a historian of science widely recognized for her research into scientific discovery as both a catalyst and product of social and political events. Through positions at the University of Oklahoma and Oregon State University, extensive publishing, and participation in the international community of historians of science, Dr. Nye has drawn recognition from prestigious organizations including the History of Science Society and the American Chemical Society. The Mary Jo Nye Papers include books relating to the history of science, reprints, manuscript notes, and miscellaneous documents.

Scope and Content Notes

The Mary Jo Nye Papers are comprised of approximately 3 linear feet of books relating to the history of science and scientific thought in France and the United States, one series of bound reprints, one series of research materials transferred from microfilm, and one folder of miscellaneous pamphlets and reprints.

An addition to the Mary Jo Nye Papers (Accession 2012:035) consists of books, microfilm and personal papers relating to Dr. Mary Jo Nye's several book projects, including From Chemical Philosophy to Theoretical Chemistry, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, and French Philosophy and Science. In addition, the materials contain files related to Nye's faculty work at the University of Oklahoma and OSU, including syllabi, course notes, and research files. Alphabetical files including correspondence are also present as are newsletters from the History of Science Society, contemporary to her tenure as vice president and president of the society.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Dr. Mary Jo Nye is an internationally recognized historian of science known for her analysis of the relationship between scientific discovery and social and political phenomena.

Dr. Nye came into academia as an undergraduate chemistry major at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, which she left in 1964 in order to complete her B.A. degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In 1965 she entered the History of Science doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin, receiving her Ph.D. in 1970. Later that year, she took a position as Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma, the base from which she would build her position as a historian of science.

Between 1970 and 1994, Dr. Nye contributed heavily to the study of the history of science at the University of Oklahoma, receiving widespread recognition and eventually promotion to George Lynn Cross Research Professor of the History of Science. During that time she produced three books, edited two more, published more than two dozen articles and essays, and participated in a number of academic organizations. With the publication of Science in the Provinces: Scientific Communities and Provincial Leadership in France she became recognized for her command of scientific history from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visiting research position at the University of Pittsburgh, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Rutgers University, and the University of Cambridge, among others, helped to cement her position within the international community of historians of science.

In 1994, Dr. Nye accepted a position as the Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professor of the Humanities at Oregon State University. There, she edited a volume in The Cambridge History of Science series and authored two additional books, Before Big Science: The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics and Blackett: Physics, War, and Politics in the 20th Century, well-received accounts of the interplay of social, economic, and political factors in scientific discovery. At the time of her retirement she was completing her book Michael Polyani and His Generation: Origins of the Social Construction of Science, scheduled for publication in 2011.

In addition to her publishing and professorial duties, Nye also played an active role in the advancement of her field, serving as the 1988-1989 President of the History of Science Society, Second Vice-President of the Division of History of Science in the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, and member of several international science and history organizations. She has also been recognized for achievements by the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, among others. In 2006 the History of Science Society awarded her the prestigious Sarton Medal for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement

Dr. Nye currently holds a position as professor emeritus of the Oregon State University History Department and continues to research and publish in her field.

Administrative Information

Accruals: Future donations are anticipated.

Acquisition Note: Approximately 25 books, one series of bound reprints, one series of manuscript notes, and one folder of assorted documents and reprints were accessioned from Mary Jo and Robert Nye by OSU Libraries Special Collections on July 7, 2008.

Preferred Citation: Mary Jo Nye Papers (MSS Nye), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: This collection is not fully processed and a complete finding aid is not available at this time.


Nye, Mary Jo

People, Places, and Topics

History of Science
Nye, Mary Jo
University History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.