Handbook of the Historiography of Biology

  • Michael Dietrich
  • Mark Borrello
  • Oren Harman


  • Is the only historiographic analysis of the history of biology available

  • Offers an informed introduction to major issues that will foster new, original research in the history of biology

  • Provides an essential tool for any scholar wanting to make an informed contribution to the scholarship in the history of biology

  • Offers an assessment of the state of the field from a set of distinguished international experts

Living reference work

Part of the Historiographies of Science book series (HISTSC, volume 1)

About this book


This handbook offers original, critical perspectives on different approaches to the history of biology. This collection is intended to start a new conversation among historians of biology regarding their work, its history, and its future. Historical scholarship does not take place in isolation: As historians create their narratives describing the past, they are in dialogue not only with their sources but with other historians and other narratives. One important task for the historian is to place her narrative in a historiographic lineage. Each author in this collection offers their particular perspective on the historiography of a range of topics from Model Organisms to Eugenics, Molecular Biology to Biotechnology, Women, Race, Scientific Biography, Genetics, Darwin and more. Rather than comprehensive literature reviews, the essays critically reflect upon important historiographic trends, offering pointed appraisals of the field by leading scholars. Other authors will surely have different perspectives, and this is the beauty and challenge of history-making. The Handbook of the Historiography of Biology presents an opportunity to engage with each other about how the history of biology has been and will be written.


historiography of science history of biology history of molecular biology history of biotechnology history of genetics history of evolutionary biology race and biology women and biology history of eugenics history of developmental biology Charles Darwin and the Darwinian Tradition History of Natural History Ecology and Environmental History Modern Evolutionary Biology Gregor Mendel and 19th century Heredity Modern Genetics and Genomics Organisms and Traditions of Research history of biomedicine

Editors and affiliations

  • Michael Dietrich
    • 1
  • Mark Borrello
    • 2
  • Oren Harman
    • 3
  1. 1.HPS Dept, 1017 Cathedral of LearningUniversity of Pittsburgh HPS Dept, 1017 Cathedral of LearningPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA
  3. 3.Tel AvivIsrael

About the editors

Michael R. Dietrich, Professor of Biological Sciences, studied Philosophy and Biology at Virginia Tech before earning a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego.  Before coming to Dartmouth in 1998, he was an Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis.   He is currently also an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University.  As a historian and philosopher of biology, his primary interests are in the nature of scientific controversy.  In numerous scholarly articles and chapters, he has explored controversies in evolutionary genetics and molecular evolution, as well as controversial figures, such as the émigré geneticist Richard Goldschmidt.  He is currently engaged with a large-scale project to document the diversity and distribution of developmental biology research on a global scale in the post-war period.  He has edited three books; Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology with Oren Harman (2007), The Educated Eye: Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences with Nancy Anderson (2012), and Biology Outside the Box: Boundary Crossers and Innovation in the Life Sciences with Oren Harman (2013).  He is currently writing a book on genetic drift with Roberta Millstein and Robert Skipper entitled Survival of the Luckiest: Perspectives on the History and Philosophy of Random Drift in Evolutionary Biology, as well as a biography of Richard Goldschmidt.  His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the History of Biology, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mark E. Borrello, Associate Professor of History of Science in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, studied History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University earning a doctorate in 2002.  Before coming to the Univerity of Minnesota, he was a visiting assistant professor at the Lyman Briggs School at Michigan State University.  As a historian and philosopher of biology, his primary interests are in the development of evolutionary theory in the 19th and 20th centuries.  In numerous scholarly articles and chapters, he has explored the debate over the levels of selection idea from Darwin to the present. His 2010 book on this topic, Evolutionary Restraints: the contentious history of group selection, was published by the University of Chicago Press.  He is currently engaged in an investigation of the nature of individuality in developmental and evolutionary contexts. He has published on this topic with his colleagues Michael Travisano, William Ratcliff and Ford Denison (PNAS 2012). His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.  He is the book reviews editor of the Journal of the History of Biology. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Handbook of the Historiography of Biology
  • Editors Michael Dietrich
    Mark Borrello
    Oren Harman
  • Series Title Historiographies of Science
  • Series Abbreviated Title Historiographies of Science
  • DOI
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Springer Reference Religion and Philosophy Reference Module Humanities and Social Sciences
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-74456-8
  • Series ISSN 2523-7748
  • Series E-ISSN 2523-7756
  • Edition Number 0
  • Number of Pages X, 490
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Biology
    Human Genetics
    Developmental Biology
    Evolutionary Biology