Presidential addresses offer an opportunity to reflect on the history of our subject and where the history of science stands in our own day. Such reflections are particularly appropriate with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) which is marked in 1997. Some may consider that looking back over our past is either an unacceptable luxury or an occasion for the kind of celebration that can all too easily degenerate into hagiography and an excuse to rake over the past in a thoroughly uncritical manner. This address – and I trust the events of 1997 – will try to avoid such excesses and instead contribute to the historiography of our subject.
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