Daniel Kevles

Daniel J. Kevles (born 2 March 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American historian of science best known for his books on American physics and eugenics and for a wide-ranging body of scholarship on science and technology in modern societies. He is Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Emeritus at Yale University and J. O. and Juliette Koepfli Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology.[1][2]

Daniel J. Kevles at the 2007 History of Science Society meeting


Kevles received his BA in physics from Princeton University in 1960 and his PhD in history from Princeton in 1964.[3] He taught at the California Institute of Technology from 1964 to 2001 and Yale University from 2001 to 2015. Since 2015, he has held additional appointments at Columbia University and New York University.[4][5]

In 2001 Kevles received the George Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society, awarded for "a lifetime of scholarly achievement". In 1999 his book The Baltimore Case was awarded the History of Science Society's Watson Davis Prize for best book in the history of science directed to a wide public. Kevles is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Society of American Historians.[6]

In 2000 the mathematician Serge Lang waged an unsuccessful campaign to prevent Kevles from being granted tenure at Yale, asserting that Kevles' book The Baltimore Case was too sympathetic to David Baltimore.[7][8][9][10] Although criticized publicly by Lang and several other scientists,[11][12][13][14][15][16] the book was also praised by others for meticulous scholarship and detailed reporting.[17]


Kevles' research has focused primarily on the history of science in America and the interactions between science and society. A central theme in much of his work has been the tension between elite science and the norms of democratic control. He is best known for his accessible and original interpretative histories of physics and eugenics, and for an extensive body of scholarship that ranges widely across the histories of the physical sciences, life sciences, and technology.

His books include The Physicists (1978),[18] a history of the American physics community, In the Name of Eugenics (1985), currently the standard text on the history of eugenics in the United States and Britain,[19] and The Baltimore Case (1998),[20] a study of accusations of scientific fraud. He is also a co-author of the textbook Inventing America: A History of the United States (2002; 2nd edition 2006)[21] and co-editor with Leroy Hood of The Code of Codes (1992),[22] a set of essays that explore scientific and social issues surrounding the Human Genome Project. Recently he has been working on a history of the uses of intellectual property in living organisms from the eighteenth century to the present[23] and a co-authored history of the National Academy of Sciences.[24]

Throughout his career, Kevles has brought the history of science and technology to a broad audience through his contributions to general readership publications. These have included pieces in The New Yorker,[25] The New York Times,[26] The New York Review of Books,[27] Times Literary Supplement,[28] Scientific American,[29] and The Huffington Post,[30] among others. The serialized version of his book In the Name of Eugenics, published in The New Yorker in 1984, received the 1985 Page One Award for excellence in science reporting.[31]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America (Alfred A. Knopf, 1978; Harvard University Press 1987, 1995).
  • In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985; with new preface Harvard University Press, 1995).
  • The Code of Codes: Scientific and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project, coeditor with Leroy Hood (Harvard University Press, 1992).
  • The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character (W. W. Norton, 1998).
  • Inventing America: A History of the United States, coauthor with Alex Keyssar, Pauline Maier, and Merritt Roe Smith (W. W. Norton, 2002; 2nd edition, 2006).


  1. ^ http://history.yale.edu/people/daniel-kevles
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2016-04-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Kevles, Daniel J. (2013). "Why and How: Reflections in an Autobiographical Key". Science in Context. 26 (4): 627–638. doi:10.1017/S0269889713000318. ISSN 0269-8897.
  4. ^ "Dan Kevles, Visiting Professor of History". Archived from the original on 2016-04-18. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
  5. ^ "2017 Annual Report, Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy, NYU Law School" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Organization of American Historians: Daniel J. Kevles". www.oah.org. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  7. ^ Tim R.A. Cooper,"Yale to tenure two science history stars; Professors to boost ailing humanities program" (Yale Daily News, 20 Jan. 2000, pp. 1, 4)
  8. ^ T.R.A. Cooper & Charles Forelle, "Tenure offer draws fire from Lang; Kevles in town, likely to accept history of science position" (Yale Daily News, 31 Jan. 2000, pp. 1, 3)
  9. ^ John Chin,"Battle of professors: Lang irate, Kevles indifferent" (Yale Herald, 11 Feb. 2000)
  10. ^ Michael Miarmi,"Serge Lang is fighting a losing battle" (Opinion) (Yale Herald, 11 Feb. 2000); Matthew Matera, "Kevles settles in after last year's controversy"(Yale Daily News, 27 Oct. 2000).
  11. ^ Gunsalus, C.K. (1999). ""Review of Kevles' "The Baltimore Case..."". New England Journal of Medicine. 340 (3): 242. doi:10.1056/nejm199901213400320.
  12. ^ Greenberg, D.S. Letter (ScienceWriters, Spring 1999, p. 26)
  13. ^ Shashok, K (1999). "The Baltimore affair: a different view". International Microbiology. 2 (4): 275–8.
  14. ^ Lang, S. "On A Yale Kevles Appointment" (paid advertisement) (Yale Daily News, 3 Feb. 2000, pp. 6-9)
  15. ^ Moran, G (2002). ""Review of Kevles' "The Baltimore Case...". J. Information Ethics. 11 (1): 90–3.
  16. ^ McCutchen, C.W. (2002). ""The Baltimore Case" Misrepresents a Major Piece of Evidence". J. Information Ethics. 11 (1): 5–6.
  17. ^ Hull, David L. (3 December 1998). "Scientists Behaving Badly". The New York Review of Books.; Lock, Stephen (1999-10-02). "The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 319 (7214): 926. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7214.926. PMC 1116746. PMID 10506071.; "'The Baltimore Case': For a Scientific Team, a Case Goes Terribly Awry". archive.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  18. ^ Kevles, Daniel J. (1995). The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674666569. OCLC 31412171. See also Samios, N. P. (1978). "Review: The Physicists by Daniel J. Kevles". Political Science Quarterly. 93 (3): 513–515. doi:10.2307/2149550. JSTOR 2149550.
  19. ^ Kevles, Daniel J. (1995). In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (1st Harvard University Press pbk. ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0520057635. OCLC 32430452.
  20. ^ Kevles, Daniel J. The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.; 1998). See also Steele, Fintan R. "Review: The Baltimore Case by Daniel J. Kevles". Nature Medicine. 5 (1): 13–14. doi:10.1038/4689.
  21. ^ Maier, P., Smith, M. R., Keyssar, A. and Kevles, D. J. (2006) Inventing America: A History of the United States, second edition. New York: W. W. Norton.
  22. ^ Kevles, Daniel J., and Hood, Leroy E. (1992). The Code of Codes: Scientific and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674136454. OCLC 24845567.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Kevles, Daniel J. (2007). "Patents, Protections, and Privileges". Isis. 98 (2): 323–331. doi:10.1086/518192. ISSN 0021-1753.
  24. ^ See mention of project, "Ruth Schwartz Cowan's Multi-year Project | History of Science Society". hssonline.org. Retrieved 2018-07-16. See also short essays by the co-authors, "The National Academy of Sciences at 150" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Daniel J. Kevles | The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  26. ^ E.g., Kevles, Daniel J. "Study Cloning, Don't Ban It". Retrieved 2018-07-16.; Kevles, Daniel. "Life on the Far Side of 150". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  27. ^ "Daniel J. Kevles". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  28. ^ E.g., Kevles, Daniel J. "Grand unifiers". www.the-tls.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-16.; Kevles, Daniel J. "The great golden boy of mathematics". www.the-tls.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  29. ^ "Stories by Daniel J. Kevles". Scientific American. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  30. ^ "Daniel Kevles | HuffPost". www.huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  31. ^ Olby, Robert, and R. C. Lewontin. Isis 77, no. 2 (1986): 311-19. http://www.jstor.org/stable/232660.

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