Derek J. de Solla Price
Search the Collections
Derek J. de Solla Price

Derek John de Solla Price (b. 1922, d. 1983) was a writer and educator with expertise in the history of science and its instruments. Born in London, England, to Philip and Fanny (de Solla) Price, he was educated at the University of London and Cambridge University, receiving doctorates in both physics and the history of science. In 1947 he married Ellen Hjorth. After affiliations with Cambridge, the Smithsonian Institution and Princeton University, among others, in 1960 he came to Yale University to become Yale’s first Avalon Professor of the History of Science, and the first chair of the University’s department of science and medicine. As Curator he assembled Yale’s most historically significant instruments into the collection that came to be housed at the Yale Peabody Museum. An advisor to the administrations of U.S. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson on scientific organizations and committees, Price was known for his identification of an ancient computing mechanism as a model of the solar system, and for finding an unknown work on astronomy by Chaucer. In 1976 he received the Leonardo da Vinci Medal for History of Technology from the Society for the History of Technology.

 

Photograph courtesy of Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library.