Theodore Porter honored with the 2023 Sarton Medal

Congratulations to Theodore (Ted) Porter who has been honored with the 2023 Sarton Medal, the highest honor given by the History of Science Society (HSS). The award is given annually to an outstanding historian of science in acknowledgement of lifetime scholarly achievement in the field.

In announcing the honor, the HSS noted: “Porter is, quite simply, one of the world’s most distinguished historians of science. Over his long career he has been responsible not just for transforming an existing field (the history of statistics and statistical practice) but for actually creating a new one: the history of quantification. In the broadest sense, Ted’s accomplishment has been to connect histories of statistical practice to histories of scientific epistemology.”

Porter is a distinguished professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. His teaching and research focus on the history of the human sciences, particularly the uses of statistics, calculation, numbers, measures, and data. He is a longtime Princeton University Press author who has published all of his four single-authored books with the Press. These include Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in the Statistical Age, The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820–1900, which charts the rise of statistics through the work of social scientists, and Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life, a foundational work on historical and social studies of quantification. Both titles were released in updated paperback editions in 2020. Porter additionally wrote an introduction to PUP’s 2016 publication of Charles Coulston Gillispie’s The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas.

Porter’s most recent book, Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity, examines how hereditary data in mental hospitals gave rise to the science of human heredity and was honored with the History of Science Society’s Pfizer Award, as well as the Cheiron Book Prize, given by The International Society for the History of Behavioral & Social Sciences.

Porter has previously received honors from the National Science Foundation, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and The Ludwick Fleck Prize and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has held residential fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, the University of California Society of Fellows, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, among others.

We at Princeton University Press are proud of our many publishing collaborations with Ted Porter and offer him congratulations on this latest honor. We look forward to celebrating at the annual HSS meeting in November.