The Danish Society for the History of Science


The aim of the society is to foster interest in and propagate knowledge of the history of science and its philosophical, social, and cultural relations. Until recently the emphasis of the society was on the history of the exact sciences, i.e., the history of mathematics, astronomy, physics, and to a less extent the history of chemistry and even the history of technology. However, since October 1, 2002, the scope of subjects covered has been broadened somewhat to comprise the history of all the natural sciences, mathematics, and technology.


The primary activity of the society is its regular meetings with lectures by invited speakers. Visits to museums, etc., are also arranged now and then. The number of meetings ranges from four to eight annually, usually at the H. C. Ørsted Institute, Universitetsparken 5, in Copenhagen. Check archive to get an idea of the variety of meetings.


Anyone may join the Danish Society for the History of Science. It currently has about 60 members in universities, high schools, museums, archives, and libraries, from scientific and engineering professions, and from among interested amateurs. In principle the society serves the whole country, but the majority of members are local.


Our precursor, The Danish Society for the History of the Exact Sciences, was founded in 1949 primarily on the initiative of professor of physics Mogens Pihl after he and his colleagues— professor of Iranian philology Kaj Barr, professor of mathematics Harald Bohr and the later professor of history of science Olaf Schmidt—posted the following letter to about 25 individuals:

For some time we have felt the need for a meeting place in which interest in the history of the exact sciences can be cultivated, and it is with this concern that we approach you! Our idea is to create a circle in which humanists and researchers in the exact sciences will be able to meet within this common sphere of interest, and we hope that you will support our efforts by participating in the meetings and perhaps even contribute to them. The meetings will take place in the library of the Mathematical Institute, Blegdamsvej 15, and for the time being it is our plan to arrange a couple of meetings each semester, though to some extent this number will depend on the possibility of procuring suitable speakers; in this connection we ask you moreover to pay attention also to the participation of foreign visitors.
     Prof. Hjelmslev has promised to give the first lecture entitled:

Eudoxos’ aksiom and Archimedes’ lemma.

     Further information about the time of the meeting will be posted later. As far as this matter has your interest please contact one of us [Mødeprotokol for Selskabet for de eksakte Videnskabers Historie 1949-, s. 1]

This letter was as close as the society came to written regulations for more than 50 years. At its foundation the board consisted of Kaj Barr (president), Mogens Pihl (vice-president) and Olaf Schmidt (treasurer and secretary). In accordance with the wish of the founders to bridge the “two cultures,” there have been representatives from both the humanities and the sciences (including mathematics) in these two posts.

On the initiative of the current board, the first general assembly of the society was held on October 1, 2002. On that occasion the society changed its name to The Danish Society for the History of Science and its scope was broadened to comprise the history of all the natural sciences, mathematics, and technology.

The board through the years


1949–1971Kaj Barr
1971–1980A. G. Drachmann
1980–1983Mogens Pihl
1983–1995Thøger Bang
1995–2006Jesper Lützen
2006–2012Anja Skaar Jacobsen
2012–2021Jesper Lützen
2021–2023Henrik Kragh Sørensen
2023–Jan Tapdrup
1949–1980Mogens Pihl
1980–1989H. D. Schepelern
1989–2001C. M. Taisbak
2001–2006Anja Skaar Jacobsen
2006–2012Karin Tybjerg
2012–2014Donald B. Wagner
2014–2016Anja Skaar Jacobsen
2016–2018Hanne Andersen
2018–2021Henrik Kragh Sørensen
2021–2023Karin Tybjerg
2023–Christian Joas
1949–1983Olaf Schmidt
1983–1995August Ziggelaar
1995–2021Bente Winstrøm-Olsen
2021–2023Ricardo Avelar Sotomaior Karam
2023–Jesper Lützen
1949–1983Olaf Schmidt
1983–1995August Ziggelaar
1995–2001Torkil Heiede
2001–2004Kurt Ramskov
2004–2008Donald B. Wagner
2008–2012Jesper Lützen
2012–2014Anja Skaar Jacobsen
2014–2016Donald B. Wagner
2016–2021Ricardo Avelar Sotomaior Karam
2021–2023Christian Joas
2023–Donald B. Wagner

This page was last changed 1 June 2023 by Don Wagner