Anke te Heesen will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Wednesday, March 29 at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Earwitness Thomas Kuhn: The Interview in Historical Research.”


Anke te Heesen is Professor of the History of Science at the Institute for History at Humboldt University in Berlin. She was the Founding Director of MUT (Museum of the University of Tübingen), where she curated several exhibitions. Prior to this she worked as a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Her main books are The World in a Box: The Story of an Eighteenth-Century Picture Encyclopedia (translation 2002) and The Newspaper Clipping: A Modern Paper Object (translation 2014). Recently she published Theorien des Museums (2012) and together with Margarete Vöhringer Wissenschaft im Museu: Ausstellung im Labor (2014).

In this talk, te Heesen will look at the development of an archive that was unique in its time: “Sources for the History of Quantum Physics.” Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project started in 1961 with the aim of documenting the formative times of quantum physics in the 1920s and 1930s. Apart from collecting manuscripts and notebooks, the main task of the three historians who were involved in the project—Thomas Kuhn, John Heilbron, and Paul Forman—was to interview the “living sources” that remembered the main steps in the development of modern physics. However, by collecting hundreds of oral histories from famous physicists, the project group became more and more conscious of the fallacies of oral history. What were their expectations?