Historians of science don’t on the whole ever become household names, in fact outside of their own speciality they are hardly known at all. The only exceptions are Thomas Kuhn who became notorious for his philosophy of science rather than his history and writers who are popularisers rather than historians such as Jacob Bronowski, Arthur Koestler and Dava Sobel. All the more reason to draw attention to today’s birthday girl Agnes Mary Clerke (10.02.1842 – 20.01. 1907).
Agnes Clerke was a historian of astronomy who wrote a book that has been regarded as a classic in the history of science since it was published in 1888, A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century. She also wrote authoritatively about the Herschels and played a significant role in the spread of the relatively new science of astrophysics.
In 1903 she became only the third women to be elected to the Royal Astronomical Society after Caroline Herschel and Mary Sommerville and if you don’t know who they are you should.