Skip to main content

Thomas S. Kuhn papers

 Collection
Identifier: MC-0240

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Kuhn's teaching career is documented in lecture notes for courses in the history and philosophy of science he taught while at Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University, and course notes for classes he taught at MIT, including the Nature of Scientific Knowledge (24.05J); Topics in the History of Physical Science (24.270J); Rise of Scientific Cosmology: Aristotle to Newton (24.272J); Problems in the Nature of Explanation (24.851); Philosophy of Scientific Development (24.853); Historical Interpretation of Scientific Thought (24.854J); and Problems in the Philosophy of History (24.855). Kuhn's involvement with the Quantum Physics Project, 1962-1973, is documented in research materials including correspondence with physicists such as Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, and Linus Pauling, 1910-1930, and reprints of journal articles by these scientists as well as extensive notes Kuhn took on these sources. There is professional correspondence, 1958-1991, with colleagues, students, publishers, and professional organizations including the National Research Council Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; copies of speeches and lectures he gave; and notes he took at professional meetings. Kuhn's writings are documented in correspondence and drafts of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Black-body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity.

Dates

  • 1936 - 2000

Creator

Access note

Materials in this collection are open unless they are marked as restricted. Restrictions are noted in the container list.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biography

Thomas S. Kuhn, 1922-1996, SB 1943, AM 1946, PhD 1949, all in physics, Harvard University, taught at Harvard, 1951-1956, the University of California, Berkeley, 1956-1964, and Princeton University, 1964-1979, before coming to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as professor of philosophy and the history of science. He became the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy in 1983, and emeritus in 1991. His research focused on the principles behind the evolution of science and the nature of scientific change, and the influence of language on the development of science. His many publications include The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (1957), Sources for the History of Quantum Physics (1960), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change (1977), and Black-body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912 (1978).

Extent

28 Cubic Feet (27 record cartons, 3 manuscript boxes, 1 legal folder)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The collection documents the career of Thomas S. Kuhn, who taught at Harvard, the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University, before coming to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1979 as professor of philosophy and the history of science. He became the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy in 1983, and emeritus in 1991. His research focused on the principles behind the evolution of science and the nature of scientific change, and the influence of language on the development of science. Kuhn's teaching career is documented in lecture notes and notes for courses he taught in the history and philosophy of science. His involvement with the Quantum Physics Project, 1962-1973, is documented in research materials including correspondence with physicists such as Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, and Linus Pauling.

Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisiton

Materials were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) in 1988 and 1991 by Thomas S. Kuhn, and in 1996 and 1997 by Jehane Kuhn. One folder of correspondence was given to the Department of Distinctive Collection in 2021 by Kenneth Caneva.

Screening

The following boxes have been screened

  1. Box 3, open
  2. Box 4
  3. Box 6 (CT, 3/3/17)
  4. Box 11 (CT, 8/1/17, folder level screening only)
  5. Box 14 (CT, 9/28/15)
  6. Box 16 (CT, 11/30/17) open
  7. Box 21 (CT, 3/28/17)
  8. Box 22 (CT, 5/23/2018)
  9. Box 24 (CT, 7/25/17)
  10. Box 25

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Processing Information

One folder of correspondence between Thomas S. Kuhn and Kenneth Caneva was added to the collection in February 2021 and intellectually arranged. Annotations to the correspondence were provided by Caneva.
Title
Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Thomas S. Kuhn
Status
Ready For Review
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021 February 24: One folder of correspondence added to the collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Contact:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US