Lorraine J. Daston What Science Will Be Remembered Centuries from Now, and Why?

Lorraine Daston is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Furthermore, she is a regular Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, Honorary Professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin and Permanent Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin. A historian of science, her current research focus includes the emergence of Big Science and Big Humanities in the context of nineteenth-century archives, and the relationship between moral and natural orders. For her work, Daston received many prestigious prizes, among them the Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society, and the Lichtenberg Medal of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Area of Research

History of Science, Rationality

Lorraine J. Daston. "On Scientific Observation." Isis 99 (2008): 97-110.  
Lorraine J. Daston. "The Glass Flowers." In Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science New York: Zone Books, 2004: 223-254.  
Lorraine J. Daston. "Objectivity and the Escape from Perspective." In The Science Studies Reader New York and London: Routledge, 1999: 110-123.  
Lorraine J. Daston. "Marvelous Facts and Miraculous Evidence in Early Modern Europe." Critical Inquiry 18 (1991): 93-124.  

since 2008

Permanent Fellow

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

since 2005

Visiting Professor

University of Chicago

Committee on Social Thought

since 1997

Research Associate

University of Chicago

Department of History

since 1997

Honorary Professor

Humboldt University of Berlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

since 1995


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


Professor of History/History of Science

University of Chicago


Professor and Director

University of Göttingen (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte


Associate Professor of History/History of Science

Brandeis University


Assistant Professor of History/History of Science

Princeton University


Assistant Professor of History of Science

Harvard University


PhD in History of Science

Harvard University


Diploma in History and Philosophy of Science

University of Cambridge

- Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung

- American Academy in Berlin

- Cambridge University Press

- California University Press

- Chicago University Press

- Common Knowledge

- Configurations

- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

- École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

- Harvard University Press

- Isis

- Journal of the History of Ideas

- National Endowment for the Humanities

- National Science Foundation

- Perspectives on Science

- Philosophia Naturalis

- Princeton University Press

- Social Studies of Science

- Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

- Volkswagen Stiftung

- Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

- American Historical Association

- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik e.V.

- History of Science Society


- Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew University (2016)

- Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Princeton University (2013)

- Fellow, Institut des études avancées, Paris (2010)

- Fellow, Siemens-Stiftung, Munich (2009-2010)

- Guggenheim Fellowship (1994-1995)

- Research Fellow, Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Universität Bielefeld (1991-1992)

- National Science Foundation Scholar's Grant (1990)

- Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (1989-1990)

- Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1987-1988)

- Alexander Humboldt Stipendium (1986-1987)

- Howard Foundation Fellowship (1985-1986)

- Research Fellow, Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, University of Bielefeld (1982-1983)

- Clark Fund Research Grant, Harvard University (1981)

- Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Columbia University (1979-1980)

- Arthur Lehman Graduate Fellowship (1977-1978)

- National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (1973-1976)

- Phi Beta Kappa (1972)

- Sigma Xi (1972)


- Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreis (2014)

- Lichtenberg Medaille, Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (2014)

- Schelling Preis, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (2012)

- Sarton Medal, History of Science Society, "For Lifetime Scholarly Achievement“ (2012)

- Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Grossem Stern, Federal Republic of Germany (2010)

- Orden pour le Mérite, Federal Republic of Germany (2010)

- Book Prize "Das Historische Buch 2008/Offene Kategorie" (with Peter Galison, for Objectivity) (2007)

- Bainton Prize, Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (with Katharine Park, for Best Book in Area History and Theology) (1999)

- Pfizer Prize, History of Science Society (with Katharine Park; for Best Book by a North American Author in the History of Science in the Previous Three Years) (1999)

- Pfizer Prize, History of Science Society (for Best Book by a North American Author in the History of Science in the Previous Three Years) (1989)

- Schuman Prize, History of Science Society (for Best Student Essay on Science and its Cultural Relations) (1975)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

"Founded in 1994, the MPIWG in Berlin is one of the more than eighty research institutes administered by the Max Planck Society. It is dedicated to the study of the history of science and aims to understand scientific thinking and practice as historical phenomena. Researchers pursue an historical epistemology in their studies of how new categories of thought, proof, and experience have emerged." (Source)


Some sciences like geology, astronomy or demography require a time scale of observation and study of phenomena that lasts longer than a human life span – and even that of civilizations. These “Sciences of the Archives” rely on the contribution of scientists who store their data and knowledge for the generations following after them. In this video LORRAINE DASTON explains how an interdisciplinary group of scholars investigated which conditions enable such scientific endeavors that depend on long-lived collections. They studied historical sources and how these records are kept to identify patterns across millennia and cultures. The findings indicate that a key driver for the people involved in building these archives is an almost utopian vision: The believe that their discipline will continue to make use of the archives and that future insights will depend on these records.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10291

The Sciences of the Archives

  • Lorraine J. Daston
  • Osiris
  • Published in 2012
Lorraine J. Daston. "The Sciences of the Archives." Osiris 27 (2012): 156-187.