Royal Society Publishing

Technical assistance in the world of London science, 1850–1900

Hannah Gay


Examples of technical assistance in a range of London settings are discussed in this paper. Skilled trades people, apprentices, lab boys and girls, family members, research students, research assistants, and laboratory technicians were, in different ways, all important to the organization of scientific work in this period. To illustrate this point, examples of work performed in trades shops, academic laboratories, entrepreneurial businesses and private laboratories are given. The examples demonstrate not only the complex and collective nature of scientific work, but also something of the social interactions of scientists and their assistants. Of especial note is the dependence of scientists on people who worked in the skilled trades.


    • Received October 2, 2007.
    • Accepted October 2, 2007.
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