George Sarton

George Alfred Leon Sarton ( born August 31, 1884 in Ghent, Belgium, † March 22, 1956 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States) was a born in Belgium American science historian.


Sarton studied in Ghent, among others, philosophy, mathematics and chemistry with a degree 1906. 1908 he received the Gold Medal of the University for his work on chemistry. In 1911 he received his doctorate in Ghent in mathematics. At the outbreak of the First World War, he went to England and from 1915 in the United States, where he remained thereafter. He held from 1916 to 1918 lectures at Harvard University and worked for the Carnegie Foundation. In 1920 he was a lecturer at Harvard and was from 1940 to 1951 Professor of the History of Science at Harvard. From 1919 to 1948 he was a researcher at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC.

Sarton began in 1927 an extensive science of writing history ( Introduction to the history of science ) for which he also learned Arabic and the Middle East countries visited to study original sources of Islamic scholars. Of the projected nine volumes Sarton was up to his death but finish only the first three. Of the eight planned volumes of his work A history of science, only two volumes have been created, the second volume was published posthumously. Sarton edited several Arab source editions. He also dealt with the science in the Renaissance, particularly with Leonardo da Vinci.

Since 1913 he published in the journal Isis - 1912 founded by him - numerous works in the field of history of science. In 1924 he founded, together with Lawrence Joseph Henderson the History of Science Society ( HSS). In 1936 he founded the annually published journal Osiris, which is like the sister magazine Isis an official publication of the HSS.

He was married in 1911 with the English artist Mabel Eleanor Elwes, with whom he had a daughter, the novelist May Sarton ( 1912-1995 ).

Awards and honors

The History of Science Society gives the George Sarton Medal annually. The first medal was awarded in 1955 to George Sarton himself.

Sarton was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The honorary doctorate was conferred on him among other things of Brown University and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.


  • Introduction to the history of science: From Homer to Omar Khayyam. Vol I, Carnegie Institution, 1927, reprint 1945
  • Introduction to the history of science: from Rabbi Ben Ezra to Roger Bacon, Vol II, 1931 Carnegie Institution, Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1950
  • Introduction to the history of science: Science and learning in the fourteenth century, Vol III, 1947 Carnegie Institution, Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1953.
  • A history of science, Volume I: Ancient science through the Golden Age of Greece, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952, 646 pages, Reprint: Dover 1993
  • A history of science, Volume II: Hellenistic science and culture in the load three centuries BC, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959, 554 pages, Reprint: Dover 1993
  • A guide to the history of science; a first guide for the study of the history of science, with introductory essays on science and tradition, New York, Ronald Press, 1952. (German: The Study of the History of Natural Sciences Frankfurt am Main. Klostermann, 1965, 92 p. )
  • The Life of Science - Essays in the history of civilization, New York, Schuman, 1948, Freeport, 1971 ( editor Max fish), also University of Indiana Press, 1960 ( editor Zirkle )
  • The history of science and the new humanism, Harvard University Press 1937
  • Six wings: men of science in the Renaissance, Indiana University Press 1955
  • Civilization of the Renaissance, Chicago University Press 1929
  • Studies and Essays in the history of Science and Learning (Editor M. Ashley Montagu ), Arno Press 1975
  • The Study of the History of Mathematics, Harvard University Press, 1936 (new Dover 1957 The study of the history of science )
  • Ancient science and modern civilization, University of Nebraska Press in 1954, Dover 1993
  • Galen of Pergamon, University of Kansas Press 1954