American Astronomy: Community, Careers, and Power, 1859-1940
by John Lankford
University of Chicago Press, 1997
Cloth: 978-0-226-46886-0
Library of Congress Classification QB33.U6L36 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.45

In this collective biography of the more than 1,200 individuals who engaged in astronomical
research, teaching, or practice in the United States between 1859 and 1940, John Lankford
paints a meticulously documented portrait of this community. He tallies the number with and
without doctorates, the number that taught in colleges or universities versus those involved in
industrial or government work, the number of women versus men, and so on. He also
addresses the crucial question of power within the community—what it meant, which
astronomers had it, and what they did with it.

Drawing on more than a decade of archival research, Lankford attends to the numbers in
concise tables and figures, and takes care to focus through biographical sketches on the
human beings his data represent. This dual approach convincingly illustrates how the changing
structure of a scientific community can alter both the career trajectories of its members and the
nature of the scientific research they choose to pursue.

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