Charles Coulston Gillispie

Charles Coulston Gillispie (/ɡɪˈlɪspi/; August 6, 1918 – October 6, 2015) was an American historian of science. He was the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History of Science, Emeritus at Princeton University.[1] He was succeeded by Arno J. Mayer.


The son of Raymond Livingston Gillispie and Virginia Coulston,[2] Gillispie grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.[3] He attended Wesleyan University, graduating in 1940 with a major in Chemistry[4] and gained his PhD from Harvard University in 1949. He also served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Gillispie joined the Department of History at Princeton University, establishing the Princeton Program in History of Science in the 1960s. He was president of the History of Science Society in 1965–66.[5] He headed the editorial board of the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, for which he received the Dartmouth Medal in 1981. Gillispie also received the Pfizer Award in 1981. He was awarded the George Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society in 1984 and the Balzan Prize in 1997 for "the extraordinary contribution he has made to the history and philosophy of science by his intellectually vigorous, precise works, as well as his editing of a great reference work".

He died on October 6, 2015 at the age of 97.[6]


  • Genesis and geology: a study in the relations of scientific thought, natural theology, and social opinion in Britain, 1790-1850, 1951
  • The edge of objectivity: an essay in the history of scientific ideas, 1960
  • Lazare Carnot savant, 1971
  • Science and polity in France at the end of the old regime, 1980. Winner of the 1981 Pfizer Award.
  • Science and Polity in France: The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Years. (2004)
  • The Montgolfier brothers and the invention of aviation, 1783-1784, 1983
  • Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1749-1827: a life in exact science, 1997
  • Essays and reviews in history and history of science, 2006


  1. Clare D. Kinsman; Christine Nasso; Gale Research Company (1975). Contemporary authors: a bio-bibliographical guide to current authors and their works, Volumes 21-24. Gale Research Co. ISBN 0810300273.
  2. Alumni Record of Wesleyan University, 1921, p. 481
  3. "Remembering Dan Sachs". Purple Motes. December 9, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  4. "Wesleyan University Alumni Awards: Distinguished Alumni Awards". Wesleyan University. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  5. "The Society: Past Presidents of the History of Science Society". The History of Science Society. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  6. "Charles Coulston Gillispie dies". National Center for Science Education. October 8, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2016.

Further reading