Kerry Magruder

Curator and John H. and Drusa B. Cable Chair Kerry Magruder
of the History of Science Collections,
Associate Professor of Bibliography,
Associate Professor of the History of Science

B.A., Biology, Truman State University, 1983
M.A., Science Education, Truman State University, 1985
Ph.D., History of Science, University of Oklahoma, 2000
MLIS., School of Library and Information Science, University of Oklahoma, 2003


Research and Creative Activities

Project cluster areas - In progress

Cluster areas reflect strategic, long-term project areas, each with multiple outcomes. The cluster areas are coordinated and complementary in nature. Each involves a synergy between traditional print publication and the digital humanities. Each expresses a facet of my general professional interests and dovetails with my curatorial goals. 

Cluster areas:

  1. History of early geology
  2. History of science and theology
  3. History of science and visual representation
  4. Education and the History of science 
  5. Exhibitions in the History of science

Projects in progress:

  • Editor, Edition Open Sources (EOS).  EOS is a peer-reviewed, scholarly publishing series in both digital and physical formats.  Digital-format publications in EOS are free and immediately accessible to the public worldwide under a creative commons license.  Development of the platform is conducted by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (MPI).  The project now continues as a collaborative venture between MPI and the OU Department of the History of Science and the OU History of Science Collections.

  • "Early Geology and Contingent Order: The Significance of T.F. Torrance for the History of Science." Torrance was one of the most important English-language theologians of the 20th century. He was also a noted philosopher of science (e.g., a friend and literary executor of Michael Polanyi) and made important contributions to intellectual history. In this paper, I assess the significance of Torrance's work for the history of geology as part of a larger project to assess his significance for the history of science and theology more widely considered.

  • Kerry Magruder, Brent Purkaple, Gary Deddo, eds., T. F. Torrance Bibliography Project (The T. F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, 2017 and ongoing); tftorrance.org

  • Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple, eds., "The Sky Tonight: Cultural Archaeology and Geography of the Stars" (skytonight.org; forthcoming 2018). The ancients believed that, when they gazed into the heavens, they were peering through many layers of swiftly turning spheres. In the same way, today we gaze at the night sky filtered through many layers of cultural heritage and representation. The stars have a living history which shapes how we experience the sky tonight. A cultural archaeology of the night sky seeks to unearth how the interpretation of any constellation has changed over time. It is inseparable from a cultural geography of the night sky that seeks to trace how the interpretation of a star pattern has varied around the world.  This digital humanities project will illustrate the cultural archaeology and geography of the stars and its significance for modern appreciation of the night sky (more).

  • Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple, eds., "Lynx Open Ed" project (lynx-open-ed.org, 2015-ongoing). This digital humanities project focuses on the creation and distribution of exhibit-related Open Educational Resources based on scholarship in the history of science and collaborative engagement with educators.

  • "Galileo's World Reprise Exhibit." Collaborators:  Brent Purkaple, James Burnes, and David Davis.  Now that the Galileo's World exhibit year is over, the 350 original rare books on display at the different locations have been returned to the University's special collections. A reprise of Galileo's World remains available in Bizzell Memorial Library. It features a new gallery, The Sky at Night (reprise), designed for a general audience, which includes books on display last year at 3 different locations. It also features a new Rotating Gallery, designed to sample selections from the galleries originally hosted at other locations. This rotating display will change regularly over the course of the next several years.

Select Publications

  • Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple, "Galileo's World Exhibit Guide" (iBook Store, 2016-2017).  This Exhibit Guide is the most complete source of content for the Galileo’s World exhibition, designed for educators, group leaders, classes, and individual study beyond the first walk-through. This Exhibit Guide interlinks all 20 galleries from 7 different locations of the Galileo’s World exhibition, covering about 350 rare books. About 1,000 pages.  Available free on the iBook Store. 
  • “Global Visions and the Establishment of Theories of the Earth,” Centaurus 2006, 48: 234-257. 
  • “Understanding a Contested Print Tradition: Bourguet’s Mosaic, Platonic and Aristotelian Theories of the Earth,” The Compass: The Earth-Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon 2008, 81: 9-25; part of a special issue on the history of geology edited by Daniel F. Merriam.

Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth (London, 1684), frontispiece
 Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth (London, 1684), frontispiece

  • “Thomas Burnet, Biblical Idiom, and 17th-Century Theories of the Earth,” in Jitse M. van der Meer and Scott Mandelbrote, eds., Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: Up to 1700, Brill’s Series in Church History, no. 36 (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 2 vols., vol. 2, pp. 451-490. 
  • “The Idiom of a Six Day Creation and Global Depictions in Theories of the Earth,” in Martina Kölb-Ebert, ed., Geology and Religion: Historical Views of an Intense Relationship between Harmony and Hostility, Geological Society of London Special Publications, no. 310 (London: The Geological Society of London, 2009), 49-66. 
  • “Jesuit Science after Galileo: The Cosmology of Gabriele Beati,” Centaurus 2009, 51: 189-212.

Gabriele Beati, Sphaera Triplex (1662), cosmic section
 Gabriele Beati, Sphaera Triplex (1662), cosmic section

  • “Theories of the Earth,” with Kenneth L. Taylor, in Europe 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. Vol. 2, pp. 222-226. 
  • “Geology,” with Kenneth L. Taylor, in Europe 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. Vol. 3, pp. 39-42. 
  • Articles on "Galileo Galilei," "John Buridan," and "The Star of Bethlehem" in the Zondervan Dictionary of Christianity and Science (2017).

Some Recent Presentations

  • History of Science Society Annual Conference, "The Library and the Discipline in the Twenty-First Century: Exhibitions and Open Access," History of Science Society, Atlanta, GA. (November 4, 2016).
  • History of Science Society Annual Conference, "The Making of a Historian of Women in Science: Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie, Curator and Mentor," History of Science Society, Atlanta, GA. (November 4, 2016). 
  • AGLSP Annual Conference, "Tradition and Transformation in Galileo’s World," Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP), Oklahoma City. (October 20, 2016). Keynote/Plenary Address.
  • Exaptive Meetup, "Exaptation and interdisciplinarity in the Galileo's World exhibition," Exaptive, Inc., Oklahoma City. (June 16, 2016). 
  • Galileo's World Symposium, "Galileo’s World: Bringing Worlds Together," OULibraries, Sam Noble Museum. (February 26, 2016).

General Interests

As Curator of the History of Science Collections, my work focuses on expanding the holdings of rare materials to build on current strengths and to address emerging areas of research interest; on curating participatory exhibitions to engage the OU community and beyond and to increase the visibility of the history of science program; on facilitating digital initiatives of the Collections including the special collections digital library and Edition Open Sources (EOS); and on supporting exhibit-related educational outreach via the activities of the OU Academy of the Lynx.

The educational arm of the History of Science Collections of OU Libraries is the OU Academy of the Lynx.  We seek to collaborate with educators in exhibit-based learning by creating, field-testing and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER’s).  We invite researchers, graduate students, and others to join us as a participating educator, museum worker, amateur astronomer, student, scholar, sponsor or docent.  Currently we are developing OER's related to the Galileo’s World exhibition (2015-2018).

My research and creative activities outside of my curatorial responsibilities engage three aspects of early modern history of science:  Theories of the Earth, science and religion, and visual representation.  Each of these aspects of early modern science is interpreted from a perspective informed by the cultural history of the book so that, for example, I investigate Theories of the Earth as a contested print tradition.

Theories of the EarthTheories of the Earth constituted a tradition of print publications addressing the nature and history of the Earth which thrived during the 17th and 18th centuries. Theories of the Earth reveal the varied contexts in which diverse historical sensibilities emerged regarding the Earth and cosmos - developments which have been referred to as the so-called "temporalization of the great chain of being," or the transition "from natural history to the history of nature." Publications in this multi-disciplinary tradition often proved controversial, in large part because an investigation of some aspect of the Earth from one scholarly perspective would quickly be countered by an alternative view representing a different disciplinary context, geographical region, or natural philosophical tradition.  For this reason, Theories of the Earth offer historians an attractive opportunity to better understand the emergence of the historical sciences in relation to how disciplinary boundaries changed in the early modern period and how the modern scientific disciplines emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Other interests include the history of science in science education, the history of natural theology, and implementation of digital academic workflows on Mac and iOS.