Tore Frängsmyr 1938–2017

The Founder and First Director of the Center for the History of Science, as well as the Member of the Academy’s Xth Class, Professor Tore Frängsmyr, has passed 79 years old.

Shortly after Tore was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he wascommissioned together with Inge Jonsson to investigate what to do with premises that had been emptied as a result of the relocation of KVA’s library. The result was, with the help of generous donations mainly from Thomas Fischer, that a Center for the History of Science could be established at the Academy of Sciences, which started its activities in 1988. The Academy’s chief librarian, Wilhelm Odelberg, had long nurtured the idea of creating an institution that in the best way was able to exploit the Swedish Academy of Sciences’ rich collections of archives, scientific instruments and a collection of rare books deposited at Stockholm University Library. Tore became the department’s first director (1988–2006).

News clipping from the plans to create a Center for the History of Science in the former library premises.

Through his research, Tore made extensive contributions to Swedish history of science, but also by creating institutions and establishing international networks, which subsequent generations of Swedish historians of science could benefit from. He cultivated several international contacts by traveling the world on his own initiative. These contacts led to various collaborations that resulted in several conferences and publications. In particular, in connection with the Bologna University’s 900th anniversary in 1988, a summer school in the history of science was created, which toured between Bologna, Berkeley and Uppsala and later also Paris (1988–2006). There, many young historians of science from all over the world have gotten to know each other and been educated. Tore was also for a time Secretary General of the International Union for the History of Science (1989–1993).

Tore also made important contributions at home. He was the editor of the magazine Tvärsnitt from the start (1979–1985) and also appeared diligently in the daily press. As a measure of his position in the scientific community, it can be noted that he had the important role as chairman of the National Encyclopedia’s Scientific Council (1986–1996).

After teaching and researching in Uppsala, Tore was appointed professor at Tema Technology and Social Change in Linköping (1981) before receiving a personal HSFR professorship in the history of science at Uppsala University (1982–1994). This was later transferred to the university (1994–2002) before it could be transformed by a grand donation by Lisbeth Rausing into the more enduring Hans Rausing professorship in the history of science that Tore held for five years before he became emeritus (2002–2007).

Tore was also involved in the management of a number of research collaborations such as: The research project Science-Technology-Industry, which educated 12 doctoral students (1996–2006), the research project Stella – Swedish modern history of science (1993–1997) and Uppsala University history (2001 – ongoing).

In addition to the Academy of Sciences, Tore became a member of several academies and learned societies such as. The Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and the American Philosophical Society. Tore was also an inspector for Norrland’s nation in Uppsala (2003–2011), an honorable assignment in his eyes.

Among his extensive book production should be mentioned the dissertation Geologi och skapelsetro (1969) and further Wolffianismens genombrott i Uppsala (1972; in English 1975), Upptäckten av istiden (1976), Framsteg eller förfall (1980), Paradiset och vildmarken (1984), Vetenskapsmannen som hjälte (1984) and Gubben som gräver (1989). Several works also required new editions over time, such as Idéhistoriens huvudlinjer (1971; 1975; 1992; 2004) with Gunnar Eriksson, Ostindiska kompaniet (1976; 1990), Sökandet efter upplysningen (1993; 2006), Pekingmänniskan: En historia utan slut (1996; 2006) and Alfred Nobel (1997; 2008). This also applies to Tore’s magnum opus Svensk idéhistoria in two volumes (2000; 2004).

Tore has been the publisher of a number of international conference and symposium volumes such as: Linnaeus: The man and his works (1983), Science in Sweden (1989), Solomon’s house revisited NS75 (1990), Quantifying spirit in the 18th century ( 1990) with John Heilbron and Robin Rider, Enlightenment science in the Romantic era (1992) with Evan Melhado and Siderius Nuncius & Stella Polaris (1997) with Marco Beretta.

The artist, Leif Zetterling, and Tore Frängsmyr in the portrait made for Bra Böcker’s book Profiler (1995). The portrait was donated to Centrum in 2007.

Tore was also the subject of a number of Festschrifts, where colleagues in Sweden and from around the world willingly contributed as: Kunskapens trädgårdar (1988), Den akademiska gemenskapen (1998) and Aurora Torealis (2008).

For many years, Tore was the editor of the Nobel Foundation’s yearbook, Les Prix Nobel (1988–2005), which includes all the Nobel Laureates’ lectures and autobiographies. A not always easy task as the Laureates tend to be even more booked if possible after they have been awarded the Nobel Prize. With this assignment is also connected the task of handing over the diplomas and medals to the King on Nobel Day to present to theLaureates. In other words, Tore has had his hands on more Nobel Prizes than most!

Tore was also involved in various degrees of organized social life, where his talents as a Karl Gerhard imitator or his basic courses in fermented herring knowledge came to good use among many, many other things.

Tore leaves behind his wife and four children with families as well as friends and co-workers around the world.