Foundation, the History of Science Society has seen the development of a number of specialized historical interest groups under its umbrella. In fact, the society has endeavored to remain a unifying instrument for the new groups, rather than see the field become fragmented, says society executive secretary Keith R. Benson. Benson is also a professor of medical history and ethics at the University of Washington, Seattle, and archivist for the history and philosophy of biology division of the American Society of Zoologists.

Among the first of these new, virtual subsocieties to form, Benson says, were the Committee on Women and the Forum for the History of Science in America, both in the early 1980s. But in just the past few years, since 1989, he's seen a sharp rise in the number of forums, including new groups on the histories of astronomy, chemistry, and early modern science.

One reason suggested for...

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