Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thomas Parke Hughes, 1923-2014

Thomas Parke Hughes
It has just come to our attention that Thomas Parke Hughes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, died on February 3, 2014, after a long illness. According to the University of Pennsylvania's remembrance, Hughes "wrote of America transformed by technology. He contributed to the concepts of technological momentum, technological determinism, large technical systems, social construction of technology, and introduced systems theory into the history of technology." He also encouraged business historians to look at firms as networked systems.
     Hughes received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering (1947) and a Ph.D. in modern European history (1953) from the University of Virginia. Among his publications he is best known for the books Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (1983), which one the Society for the History of Technology's Dexter Prize, and American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970 (1989), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history. Among his many achievements, Hughes was one of the founders of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). An early excerpt from his work on power systems can be found in Business and Economic History, "Managing Change: Regional Power Systems, 1910-30" (1977).
    Obituaries can be found in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on the University of Pennsylvania website, in The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Virginia), and, most completely, on the SHOT website