Ronald Brashear

Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library

  • Phone: 215.873.8284
  • Fax: 215.629.5284

Ronald Brashear is the Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library. For the last 23 years he has held positions that merge the history of science and special-collections libraries. 

In 1988, with a B.A. and an M.S. in physics from the University of Louisville, and after studying for a Ph.D. in the history of astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University, Brashear became the first curator of history of science, technology, and medicine at the Huntington Library. In 1998 he became curator of the Dibner Library of the History of Science at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, eventually becoming head of special collections in 2001. 

In 2006 Brashear joined CHF and began the process of turning the Othmer Library into a mature independent research library. He also transformed CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry into the leading provider of history of science, technology, and medicine fellowships in the United States. 

Brashear has curated exhibits on the transits of Venus, the history of civil engineering, and the history of astronomy at the Huntington Library and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He is currently the board chair of the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science, vice-chair of the board of directors for the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, and he serves on the Huntington’s Dibner Program Advisory Council and Dames Fund Advisory Council.

Fellowships at CHF


CHF’s scholars, who spend anywhere from one to nine months in residence, form a vital part of CHF’s intellectual life.