Charles Gillispie

Funeral Service

2:00 pm
Friday, November 13, 2015
Princeton University Chapel
Nassau Street
Princeton, New Jersey, United States

Final Resting Place

Crematory At Holy Cross Burial Park
Cranbury-South River Road
East Brunswick, New Jersey, United States

Obituary of Charles C. Gillispie

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 6 August 1918, Charles Coulston Gillispie, the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and professor emeritus of the history of science at Princeton University, was the son of Robert L Gillispie and Virginia L. Coulston. He grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was a member of the class of 1935 at the South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After graduation, he remained at Wesleyan for his master’s degree in history. From 1942 until 1946, Gillispie served with the Third Army in Europe in a heavy mortar battalion, reaching the rank of captain. Following the war, he returned to the study of history, joining Princeton University’s faculty in 1947 and earning a PhD in history from Harvard University in 1949. He married Emily Ramsdell Clapp in 1949, whom he met in the summer of 1938 when they were members of a student group that travelled to Britain and the Continent under the auspices of the Experiment in International Living. He is predeceased by his beloved wife and helpmate of 64 years, and by his younger brother, Robert L., Jr. Gillispie was a leading figure in the establishment of the history and philosophy of science as an academic discipline, having founded the Program in History of Science at Princeton in the 1960s. He is the author of many books that have become classics in the field, including “Genesis and Geology: A Study in the Relations of Scientific Thought, Natural Theology, and Social Opinion in Great Britain, 1790-1850”; “The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas”; and “Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science”. He was also the editor-in-chief of the “Dictionary of Scientific Biography”, a monumental reference work in 16 volumes with more than 4,500 essays on scientists and mathematicians of all periods and nationalities, for which he received the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association in 1981. His final work, “Lazare and Sadi Carnot: A Scientific and Filial Relationship”, a book of over 500 pages co-authored with Raffaele Pisano, was published last year. Gillispie’s many awards and distinctions include the 1997 Balzan Prize for History and Philosophy of Science for “the extraordinary contribution he has made to the history and philosophy of science by his intellectually vigorous and exacting works.” Gillispie received the Pfizer Prize in 1981 from the History of Science Society for his book, “Science and Polity in France at the End of the Old Regime”, and the Sarton Medal in 1984. Among his other awards are the Dibner Award for Distinction in History of Science and Technology from MIT in 1994 and la Médialle Alexandre Koyré from the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences in 1985. In 1972, he was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society, America’s oldest learned society. He received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Wesleyan University in 1971, from Lafayette College in 2001, and a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Princeton University in 2011. Gillispie was founding adviser for Princeton’s Sachs Scholarship, one of the University’s most prestigious fellowships awarded to two graduating seniors: one for two years of study at Oxford University’s Worcester College, and the second for one year of study or travel abroad on a program of the student’s own design. A service of remembrance will be held on November 13 at 2 p.m. in the Princeton University Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Princeton University’s Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund.
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