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The Eugene S. Ferguson Prize, recipient 2019

The members of the selection committee have selected the The Making and Knowing Project’s Digital Edition of the Technical Manuscript, BnF Ms. Fr. 640 and associated website as the 2019 winner of the Ferguson Prize. [https://www.makingandknowing.org/]

The project is under the direction of Professor Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University [[email protected]]. (Associates: Naomi Rosenkranz, Tianna Helena Uchacz, Tillmann Taape, Clément Godbarge, Sophie Pitman, Jenny Boulboullé, Joel Klein, Donna Bilak, Marc Smith, and Terry Catapano (New York: Making and Knowing Project, 2020), https://edition640.makingandknowing.org, and the project’s website: https://www.makingandknowing.org/.)

The project is ascribed to the The Center for Science and Society. Columbia University, 511 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027.

In awarding the Ferguson Prize to the Making and Knowing Project, SHOT is recognizing the methodological novelty and rigor of the project whose aim has been to better understand the tacit dimension and materiality of the early modern manufacturing processes described in manuscript BnF Ms. Fr. 640. The researchers involved have supplemented a rigorous use of traditional philological and historical methodologies with the replication of the processes described in the text to produce an annotated, online version of the manuscript that recovers experiential aspects that are often lost in solely textual transmission of technical knowledge.

The Making and Knowing Project consisted on the translation and annotation of a digital critical edition of a sixteenth-century manuscript describing hundreds of long-forgotten craft practices. The website further documented the methodological innovations undertaken by the project’s many contributors and which were meant to recapture non-verbal knowledge and visual aspects of the material practices described in the manuscript. Historical reconstructions of the technical processes described in the manuscript were carried in the project’s dedicated chemistry laboratory at Columbia University and engaged undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral fellows in an experiential work environment that has allowed students and scholars to consider the role of tacit knowledge and craft skill in the production of artisanal objects and the development of premodern technological know-how. Likewise, the project undertook the philological work on the manuscript with an eye towards engaging students and experts from a wide variety of fields—from sculptors to linguists—in the French transcription and English translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640 and encoded the material digitally to make it suitable for analysis, web-based presentation, and dissemination. The digital platform successfully delivers to the general public the knowledge and expertise gained in all stages of the project by means of multimedia essays and a digital edition of the manuscript. It combines scholarly merit, methodical rigor, and pedagogical orientation making it an outstanding and original reference work that will support future scholarship in the history of technology and makes it a worthy recipient of the Eugene S. Ferguson Prize.