Dictionary of Scientific Biography

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The Dictionary of Scientific Biography is an English-language biographical reference work with biographies of natural scientists and mathematicians, which was published in 16 volumes by Charles Scribner and Sons in New York between 1970 and 1980 . Charles Coulston Gillispie was the editor for the American Council of Learned Societies . Numerous well-known historians of science were involved in the biographies.

A supplementary volume with supplementary biographies was published in Volume 15, Volume 16 was the index volume added in 1980 to the 15-volume work completed in 1978. In 1990 two additional volumes were published. In 1981 a one-volume volume with excerpts was published (Concise dictionary of Scientific Biography, second supplemented edition 2001).

Scientists from the fields of mathematics , physics , chemistry , biology and geosciences were accepted . Other scientists (such as engineers, doctors, sociologists, philosophers) were only accepted if they had a connection with science and mathematics. Each article is provided with references and sometimes very extensive. Many of the biographies are standard references for individual scientists. Even non-Western scientists (for example from Asia or the Islamic countries) are represented with biographies, but because of the lower level of research at the time, they were underrepresented, as the editors wrote in the foreword.

In 1981 the Dictionary of Scientific Biography received the American Library Association's Dartmouth Medal as an outstanding lexicon work.

In 2007 Scribners published the New Dictionary of Scientific Biography in 8 volumes, edited by Noretta Koertge. It contains 500 new entries about scientists who died after 1950, 50 entries about scientists who had been forgotten in the old edition and additions to the articles in the old dictionary, so that the New Dictionary is designed as supplementary reading to the old dictionary. Scientists from psychology , anthropology and, in some cases, economics and sociology have joined the team .

Also in 2007, an electronic version of the Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography was released as part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library . It contains the texts of the old print editions with a new common index.


  • Charles C. Gillispie (Editor): Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1970–1980, 15 volumes and an index volume, ISBN 0-684-10114-9 , Supplement II, edited by Frederic Lawrence Holmes, 2 volumes, 1990, ISBN 0-684-16962-2 (ISBN of the complete edition ).
    • Volume I: Pierre ABAILARD - LS BERG, 1970
    • Volume II: Hans BERGER - Christoph BUYS BALLOT, 1970
    • Volume III: Pierre CABANIS - Heinrich von DECHEN, 1971
    • Volume IV: Richard DEDEKIND - FIRMCUS MATERNUS, 1971
    • Volume V: Emil FISCHER - Gottlieb HABERLANDT, 1972
    • Volume VI: Jean HACHETTE-Joseph HYRTL, 1972
    • Volume VII: IAMBLICHUS - Karl LANDSTEINER, 1973
    • Volume VIII: Jonathan Homer LANE - Pierre Joseph MACQUER, 1973
    • Volume IX: AT MACROBIUS - KF NAUMANN, 1974
    • Volume X: SG NAVASHIN - W. PISO, 1974
    • Volume XI: A. PITCAIRN - B. RUSH, 1975
    • Volume XII: IBN RUSHD - Jean-Servais STAS, 1975
    • Volume XIII: Hermann STAUDINGER - Giuseppe VERONESE, 1976
    • Volume XIV: Addison Emery VERRILL - Johann ZWELFER, 1976
    • Volume XV (Supplement I): Biographies [Roger ADAMS - Ludwik ZEJSZNER ] and Topical Essays, 1978
    • Volume XVI: Index, 1980
    • Volume 17 (Supplement II): Leason Herberling ADAMS - Fritz H. LAVES, 1981
    • Volume 18 (Supplement II): Aleksander Nikolaevich LEBEDEV - Fritz ZWICKY, 1981
  • Concise Dictionary of Scientific Biography. , New York, Scribner, 1981. ISBN 0-684-16650-X .
  • Koertge (editor) New Dictionary of Scientific Biography , 8 volumes, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007, ISBN 0-684-31320-0 .
  • Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007 (e-book). ISBN 0-684-31559-9 .
  • Biographical dictionary of mathematics , 4 volumes, 1991, Scribners, Collier, Maxwell Macmillan International (special edition with the mathematicians' biographies of the dictionary , around 3000 pages)


  • Stephen Brush : A Fascinating Reference: Dictionary of Scientific Biography . In: The Physics Teacher . tape 10 , 1972, p. 158 .