Singer, Charles Joseph

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SINGER, CHARLES JOSEPH (1876–1960), British historian of science and medicine. The son of R. Simeon*Singer, Charles Singer spent several years as a physician before his interests turned to the history of medicine. He taught the subject at Oxford from 1914 to 1920, when he transferred to University College, London. He was promoted to a professorship in 1930. Singer served as president of the International Union of the History of Science (1947–1949), and in 1956 he and his wife Dorothea were joint recipients of that organization's highest award, the Sarton Medal. Singer's contributions to scholarship were prodigious. He produced over 400 books, translations, articles, and reviews. He published The Evolution of Anatomy (1925); A Short History of Medicine (1928, 19622); and A Short History of Biology (1931). He translated many great anatomical works, including Vesalius on the Human Brain (1952) and Galen on Anatomical Procedures (1956). Among his extensive writings on the history of magic and its relationship to medicine and science was his From Magic to Science (1928). On the history of technology, he published a study of alum manufacture, The Earliest Chemical Industry (1948), and he helped to edit a five-volume History of Technology (1954–58). Throughout his career Singer maintained an active interest in Jewish history and affairs. In 1927 he collaborated with Edwyn R. Bevan in editing The Legacy of Israel, contributing jointly with his wife an essay on "The Jewish Factor in Medieval Thought." During the 1930s and 1940s, in response to the rise of Nazism, he wrote several articles and pamphlets on contemporary Christian attitudes toward Jews. He was also active in the rescue and protection of victims of Nazi oppression. His wife, dorothea waley singer (1882–1964), social worker and scholar, was chairman of the bibliographical commission of the International Academy for Historical Science from 1947 to 1950, and vice president from 1950 to 1953.


A.R. Hall, in: Isis, 51 (1960), 558–60 (Eng.); E.A. Underwood (ed.), Science, Medicine and History Essays … Charles Singer, 2 vols. (1953), incl. bibl.

[Theodore M. Brown]