[SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Irish, Sharon Lee slirish at illinois.edu
Thu Sep 3 11:42:38 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,
I wade in to this topic with some trepidation, because I don’t have a particular recommendation that I have read, but surely there must be some well-done biographies about women-identified scientists and mathematicians?
A quick look at Autumn Stanley’s 1993 Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology lists a number of names and short bios.
I haven’t read it, but perhaps Evelyn Fox Keller’s A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983)?
Of course, there’s Margot Shetterly’s Hidden Figures about  Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, which isn’t strictly a biography (and which I also haven’t read.)
In short, I would welcome further recommendations and also encourage those of us who are writing about white male-identified scientists to ask who was not in the room or at the table or getting recognized during their lifetimes.

Sincere thanks for the collected wisdom of SIGCIS,
Sharon Irish
Research Affiliate
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Jeffrey Yost <yostx003 at umn.edu>
Date: Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 1:17 PM
To: Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>
Cc: members <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Hi Troy,

Bill Aspray's John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing, a deeply insightful and path breaking work of scholarship, in large part a biography, and much more. Andrew Hodges Alan Turing: The Enigma.  Leslie Berlin's The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley is a great bio on this influential physicist, engineer, and entrepreneur in IT.  (And sticking with  the Fairchild, Intel and Silicon Valley theme...) Arnold Thackray, David Brock, and Rachel Jones' Moore's Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's Quiet Revolutionary.   Agree what others have said on Waldrop's The Dream Machine, an excellent book by this top science journalist. And I very highly recommend Hunter's excellent biography on Herbert Simon.

Best, Jeff

  The Man behind the Microchip : Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley
"Injustice wears the same harsh face wherever it shows itself."-Ralph Ellison

Jeffrey R. Yost, Ph.D.
Director, Charles Babbage Institute
Research Professor, Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

222  21st Avenue South
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612 624 5050 Phone
612 625 8054 Fax

On Thu, Sep 3, 2020 at 6:31 AM Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk<mailto:Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>> wrote:

What is your favourite biography of a scientist or mathematician? I’m particularly interested in modern subjects and those who worked in computing/computer science. Ideally the book would cover the subject’s work in a reasonable level of technical detail as well as their life and the broader context in which they lived and worked.

I ask because I am considering applying for funding for an essentially biographical project on a computer scientist and I would like to read some (more) biographies first.


Troy Astarte

School of Computing
Newcastle University

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