Background of the Encyclopedia of Australian Science

In 1985 Professor Rod Home of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne raised sufficient funds to establish the Australian Science Archives Project (ASAP). With subsequent funding from a range of Federal and State Governments, philanthropic sources, and competitive grants the project achieved a number of important objectives in helping Australian scientists ensure that at least some record was preserved that documented their activities. Perhaps the most important of these was the establishment of a national register of the archives of Australian science, technology and medicine.

Versions of the data, collected progressively over time, were published in various forms that utilised the best public outreach technologies of the time. For example, a book, Guide to the Archives of Science in Australia: Records of Individuals, in 1990 and as a web site, Bright Sparcs, in 1994.

In 1999 the Australian Science Archives Project became the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre (Austehc), carrying on the work that ASAP began. Also in 1999, Bright Sparcs was followed by a companion web site, Australian Science at Work.

While Bright Sparcs was a register of people involved in the development of science, technology, engineering and medicine in Australia, and related resources, Australian Science at Work was a register of industries, corporations, research institutions, scientific societies and other organisations. With the two registers separated, it was impossible to explore the many links between the people, and the organisations they worked for, the institutions where they taught or studied, and the societies to which they belonged.

The Encyclopedia of Australian Science, established in 2008, is the convergence of Bright Sparcs and Australian Science at Work. It will enable an even richer tapestry of stories to be explored, as relationships between the two registers are uncovered over time.

The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre succeeded Austehc in 2007, and is responsible for the creation and ongoing maintenance of The Encyclopedia of Australian Science.

If would like to know more about the project or have information to contribute to The Encyclopedia of Australian Science then please contact us.