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


My research engages 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.

As Curator of the History of Science Collections, I maintain the Collections' blog at ouhos.org, and supervise the Collections' Online Galleries, by which we participate in the DigitalHPS consortium.

Select Publications

“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.