Robert P. Multhauf
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Robert P. Multhauf
Robert P. Multhauf
AwardsDexter Award (1985)
Scientific career
FieldsScience history

Robert P. Multhauf (1919-2004) was an American science historian, curator, director, scientific scholar and author. He served as president of the History of Science Society in the year 1979-80, and was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal in 1987.[1]


Early life

Multhauf was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1919. He attended Iowa State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1941. He later attended the University of California in Berkeley, and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1950, and a Ph.D in 1953.[1] He did postdoctoral work at the Johns Hopkins University.[2]

Further career

In 1954, the Smithsonian Institution hired Multhauf as an Associate Curator for the Division of Engineering, in the United States National Museum. He became the division's Curator in 1955, and was promoted to Head Curator of both the Division of Engineering and of Industries two years later, in 1957. That same year, he was appointed Head Curator of the Department of Science and Technology under the newly established Museum of History and Technology, for which he was also the Acting Curator of the Division of Physical Sciences.[1]

Multhauf was an editor for the academic journal Isis, published by the University of Chicago Press, from 1964 to 1978.[2] He became the Director of the Museum of History and Technology in 1966, and remained in this position for four years until he was replaced with Daniel Boorstin. From 1970 to 1977, he worked as the Senior Scientific Scholar of the Department of Science and Technology. He also worked for the Department of the History of Science from 1978 to 1979. He served as the president of the History of Science Society from 1979-80.[3] When the museum was renamed again in 1980, as the National Museum of American History, he joined the Office of Senior Historians.[1]

In 1985, Robert Multhauf received the Dexter Award for Outstanding Achievement in the History of Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.[4]

Multhauf retired in 1987 and died in 2004.[1]

Selected publications

  • Introduction of self-registering meteorological instruments. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. 1961.
  • as compiler with the assistance of David Davies: Catalogue of instruments and models in the possession of the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. 1961.
  • with Allen G. Debus: Alchemy and chemistry in the seventeenth century; papers read by Allen G. Debus and Robert P. Multhauf at a Clark Library seminar, March 12, 1966. Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California. 1966.
  • Origins of chemistry. London: Oldbourne. 1966. US edition. New York: F. Watts. 1967.[5] 2nd edition. Langhorne, Pa., USA: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers. 1993.
  • as editor with Lloyd G. Stevenson: Medicine, science, and culture; historical essays in honor of Owsei Temkin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 1968.[6]
  • Neptune's gift : a history of common salt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1978.[7][8]
  • History of chemical technology : an annotated bibliography. New York: Garland Pub. 1984.[9]
  • with Gregory Good: A brief history of geomagnetism and a catalog of the collections of the National Museum of American History. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. 1987.[10]
  • with John L. DuBois and Charles A. Ziegler: Invention and development of the radiosonde : with a catalog of upper-atmosphere telemetering probes in the National Museum of American History. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. 2002.


  1. ^ a b c d e Robert P. Multhauf at the SIA archives.
  2. ^ a b Further Robert P. Multhauf at the SIA archives.
  3. ^ The History of Science Society "The Society: Past Presidents of the History of Science Society" Archived 2013-12-12 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 4 December 2013
  4. ^ "Dexter Award for Outstanding Achievement in the History of Chemistry". Division of the History of Chemistry. American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ Thackray, Arnold (20 October 1967). "Review of Origins of Chemistry by Robert P. Multhauf". Science. 158 (3799): 364. doi:10.1126/science.158.3799.364.
  6. ^ Théodoridès, Jean (Autumn 1969). "Review of Medicine, Science, and Culture. Historical Essays in Honor of Owsei Temkin, ed. by Lloyd G. Stevenson and Robert P. Multhauf". Isis. 60 (3): 404-405. doi:10.1086/350519.
  7. ^ Krätz, O.; Priesner, Claus (1980). "Review of Neptune's Gift by Robert P. Multhauf". Technology and Culture. 21 (4): 648-650. JSTOR 3104093.
  8. ^ Hannaway, Owen (June 1980). "Reviewed Work: Neptune's Gift: A History of Common Salt by Robert P. Multhauf". Isis. 71 (2): 289-291. JSTOR 230179.
  9. ^ Tarbell, D. Stanley (December 1984). "Review of The History of Chemical Technology: An Annotated Bibliography compiled by Robert Multhauf". Isis. 75 (4): 723. doi:10.1086/353655.
  10. ^ Gubbins, David (1988). "Review of A Brief History of Geomagnetism and a Catalog of the Collections of the National Museum of American History by Robert P. Multhauf and Gregory Good". Journal for the History of Astronomy. 19 (2): 141-142. doi:10.1177/002182868801900206.

External links

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