Fonds F0721 - Richard Jarrell fonds

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Richard Jarrell fonds

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  • Textual record

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Physical description

3.38 m of textual records
193 photographs : col. and b&w slides ; 35 mm
23 photographs : col. and b&w ; 20 x 25 cm or smaller
25 photographs : col. negatives ; 35 mm
3 reels of microfilm
1 compact disc
2 DVDs
3 technical drawings ; 62 x 87 cm and 60 x 84 cm
1 drawing

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Richard Adrian Jarrell (1946-2013), a professor and historian of science, was born in the United States on 29 August 1946. He received his BA from Indiana University in 1967, where he majored in history and minored in astronomy and the history and philosophy of science. He then moved to Toronto to attend the University of Toronto’s Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, graduating with an MA in 1969 and a PhD in 1972. Jarrell’s graduate studies focused on 16th century astronomy, the history of technology, and medieval philosophy and science. One of the Institute’s first PhD graduates, his dissertation was entitled “The life and scientific work of the Tübingen astronomer Michael Mästlin, 1550-1631”.

Jarrell’s association with York University began in 1970 with his work as a tutor and marker in the Department of Science Studies at Atkinson College. He would stay at Atkinson College until 1997, where he moved from course director to full professor in what would become the Department of Natural Science. In 1997, Jarrell became a professor in the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Division of Natural Science. His university service was extensive and included his positions as chair of Atkinson College’s Department of Natural Science (1986-87, 1990-1994) and coordinator of the Program in Science and Technology Studies in the Faculty of Science and Engineering (2006-2008, 2011-2013).

Widely considered an expert in the history of Canadian science, Jarrell was the author of “The Cold Light of Dawn: a History of Canadian Astronomy” (1988) and “Educating the Neglected Majority: the Struggle for Agricultural and Technical Education in 19th Century Ontario and Quebec” (2016). He co-edited a number of books including “A Curious Field-Book: Science and Society in Canadian History” (1974), “Science, Technology and Canadian History” (1980), “Critical Issues in the History of Canadian Science, Technology and Medicine” (1983), “Science, Technology and Medicine in Canada’s Past: Selections from Scientia” (1991), “Building Canadian Science: the Role of the National Research Council of Canada” (1992), “Dominions Apart: Reflections on the Culture of Science and Technology in Canada and Australia 1850-1945” (1995), and “Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers” (2007). He was also a prolific contributor of biographical and other entries for science- and astronomy-related encyclopedias and dictionaries and was the author of six textbooks.

In addition to his teaching and writing, Jarrell was the founding editor of the “HSTC Bulletin” (later “Scientia Canadensis”) (1976-1988), a member of the “Social Studies of Science” editorial board (1986-2002), and a member of the “Atkinson Review of Canadian Studies” editorial board (1982-1987). He was a co-founder of the Canadian Science and Technology Historical Association and a member of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science, the History of Science Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the International Astronomical Union. Jarrell’s interest in horticulture and environmental preservation led to his involvement with committees and organizations in the Markham and Thornhill areas, including the Markham Conservation Committee, Markham Environmental Alliance, and the Thornhill Garden and Horticulture Society.

Jarrell became the first non-astronomer elected to be a member of the Canadian Astronomical Society in 1975. He was appointed a life member of the Royal Canadian Institute in 1990, received Ontario Volunteer Service Awards in 2002 and 2004, and became a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2013.

Richard Jarrell died on 28 December 2013.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records documenting Richard Jarrell's work as an academic and historian of science, his teaching and service activities as a professor at York University, and his interest in environmental conservancy. Records include correspondence and memoranda, research materials and notes, draft articles and manuscripts, copies of published writing, photographs, university notebooks and essays, York University course materials, and textbooks written by Jarrell.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Martha Jarrell in 2018.


Fonds has been arranged in four series.

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  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Polish

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Access to this fonds is generally open, with exceptions. See series-level descriptions for details.

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Associated materials

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Archives has a Richard Jarrell fonds of selected material pertaining to astronomy:


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2018/08/07. J. Grant: (Creation)

Language of description

  • English


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