Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Professor Anton Matytsin

Second Advisor

Professor Bruce Kinzer


Historians of science widely consider the Victorian era to be a period of dramatic change in the structures of scientific institutions. In Britain, science faculties at universities expanded, especially in chemistry and physics, universities built laboratories for experimentation and teaching, and the number of specialist societies grew exponentially. This thesis focuses on the importance of the specialist societies, looking specifically at the Royal Astronomical Society. It uses the life of Richard Christopher Carrington, a wealthy amateur astronomer, to demonstrate how the environments and structures of the specialist societies produced a highly-socialized landscape of science. From the 1850s to the 1870s, social networks in the Royal Astronomical Society influenced the careers of scientists as well as the science published by the Royal Astronomical Society by fostering gradual professionalization, society politics (often calls for reform), and increased factionalism that occurred in the 1860s due to the rising influence of a younger generation.