I’m honored to be asked to give you some reflections on my years in SHD, and it gives me great pleasure to do so.  There have been a lot of them since I first joined in 1971.

First, some background.  I’m sure you are all familiar with the basics—how, at an international meeting in Lisbon in the summer of 1960, to celebrate the quincentennary of Henry the Navigator, Jack Parker, Steve Slessarev and Tom Goldstein met over a bottle of wine and decided there should be an organization in the US to encourage research into the history of discoveries. Jack put up a notice that December at the American Historical Association annual meeting asking anyone interested in the idea to meet for further discussion. Which is where I first learned of the Society as my late husband, Professor Oswald Backus, was one of a group of seven at that restaurant who launched the Society for the History of Discoveries. Ozzie used a mailing list of colleagues he had to reach out to other possible members, and a fledgling group was assembled. And, to use a hackneyed phrase, “the rest is history.”


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