Scientific accomplishments during World War II bolstered interest in the history of science, and UW officials set out to make the University a national center in the field.
By 1947, two faculty, Marshall Clagett and Robert C. Stauffer, had been recruited to relaunch the new History of Science Department, the first of its kind in the U.S. The UW also appointed historians in the Medical and Pharmacy schools, while the Chemistry Department continued to offer the history of chemistry.
An undergraduate major in the History of Science was approved in 1947-1948, and introductory courses, which could be used to satisfy requirements in the natural sciences, drew 400-600 students annually between 1948 and 1965.
From 1948, the department also enrolled graduate students in joint doctoral programs with the Chemistry and History departments and the School of Pharmacy, awarding its first PhDs in 1952. From 1958 the Graduate School permitted PhDs to be granted solely in the History of Science, although joint degrees are still an option.
Source: Victor L. Hilts, “History of Science at the University of Wisconsin,” Isis 75 (March 1984): 72-85, 87.