Joshua Scarlett

BA (Warwick), MLitt (St Andrews)



Instruments and their Makers: a study of experiment, collaboration and identity in seventeenth century London

Supervisor: Dr Sophie Weeks (University of York) and Dr Jane Desborough (Science Museum)



This collaborative doctoral project between the Science Museum and University of York explores the multifaceted interactions of techniques, skills, knowledge and resources leading to the realisation of seventeenth century mathematical, optical and natural philosophical instruments, using the collections of the Science Museum and focusing on Robert Hooke’s London network of collaborators. Through integrating instrument history with the history of science, the research seeks to shed new light on both the nature of collaborative experimenting, and the changing identities of seventeenth-century instrument makers. One of the aims of the thesis is to identify a novel methodology to bridge the divide between studies on material culture, instrument history and the history of science.


Papers and publications

Conference and seminar papers

  • ‘Gresham College in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, London 1600-1800 Communities of Natural Knowledge and Artificial Practice, Science Museum, London. 16-17 June 2017
  • ‘Instruments and their Makers: bridging the divide between studies of material culture, instrument history and the history of science’, Provocations - Researching Objects, Tate Britain, London. 27 July 2017
  • ‘Who did the work? Robert Hooke’s network of scientific instrument makers’, Research Seminar, Science Museum, London. 14 November 2017
  • 'Fall of Aristotle or Rise of Archimedes? – How did optical instrument makers in London present objects and their workshops to buyers?', XXXVI Scientific Instrument Symposium, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Leiden. 3-7 September 2018

Contact details

Mr Joshua Scarlett
PhD student
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD