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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Research Associate; Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project 'Tools of Knowledge: Modelling the Creative Communities of the Scientific Instrument Trade, 1550–1914'

Boris Jardine works on the history of scientific instrumentation, with a particular focus on the instrument trade in Britain, 1550–1700. Other areas of interest include the history and theory of collections, the nature of scientific architecture and infrastructure, and the relationship between aesthetic modernism and the sciences.

The AHRC-funded project 'Tools of Knowledge' (2020–2023) uses innovative digital methods to interrogate questions relating to the origin, development and social, cultural and economic context of the trade in scientific instruments, which has its origins in immigrant communities in London circa 1550, and which flourished across the UK and Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries. Research is based around analysis of the pre-existing database called 'SIMON' (Scientific Instrument Makers, Observations and Notes), which contains more than 10,000 records on individual instrument makers and firms from Great Britain and Ireland, curated over many years by Dr Gloria Clifton (Royal Observatory, Greenwich).

From 2016–2020 Jardine held a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, with the project 'The Lost Museums of Cambridge Science, 1865–1936' – an investigation into the origin and development of Cambridge's first scientific 'sites' in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. This resulted in the publication, with Emma Kowal and Jenny Bangham, of How Collections End: Objects, Meaning and Loss in Laboratories and Museums, and, with Joshua Nall, the forthcoming sourcebook Victorian Material Culture: Science and Medicine (Routledge), along with a number of articles and technical reports.

Prior to this Jardine was holder of the Munby Fellowship in Bibliography (2014/15) and a Curator at the Science Museum, London. Jardine's academic qualifications are from the Universities of Leeds (BA) and Cambridge (MPhil and PhD).


Research interests

Scientific instruments; architecture and science; the history of the book; history of museums; history of collections; material culture; modernism and the sciences; Mass-Observation and interwar social science.


Selected publications

'Instruments of Statecraft: Humphrey Cole, Elizabethan Economic Policy and the Rise of Practical mathematics', Annals of Science 75 (2018), pp. 304–329

'Paper Tools: The State of the Field', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 64 (2017): 53–63

'More than Mensing? Revisiting the Question of Fake Scientific Instruments', Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 131 (2017), pp. 12–19, with J. Nall and J. Hyslop

'Reverse-Printed Paper Instruments (With a Note on the First Slide-Rule)', Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 128 (2016): 36–42

'Made Real: Artifice and Accuracy in Nineteenth-Century Scientific Illustration', Science Museum Group Journal 2 (2014)

'Critical Editing of Early-Modern Astronomical Diagrams', Journal of the History of Astronomy 41 (2010): 393–414

'Between the Beagle and the Barnacle: Darwin's Microscopy, 1837–1854', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 40, special issue on scientific instrumentation (2009): 382–395

'Collections and Projections: Henry Sutton's Paper Instruments', with Catherine Eagleton, Journal of the History of Collections 17 (2005): 1–13