19 July 2022

The Astronomy Genealogy Project

Joseph Tenn Sonoma State Univ.

There are now more than 40,000 people listed in the Astronomy Genealogy Project (AstroGen). AstroGen is a database of people who have earned or supervised doctorates (the modern PhD or equivalent) with astronomy-related theses. The website provides information on and links to the authors, advisors, granting institutions, and the theses themselves. (More than 70% of the theses are available online to those affiliated with libraries subscribing to ProQuest). AstroGen — a project of the AAS Historical Astronomy Division — was started in 2013 and is funded and hosted online by the AAS. All who qualify are urged to check their entries and submit additions and corrections.

The 40,000 people listed in AstroGen include nearly 35,000 who have earned astronomy-related doctorates and close to 2,000 whose highest degrees are doctorates in physics, geology, or other subjects. There are a few whose highest degrees are less than doctorates. There are about 3,400 people who were entered because they supervised astronomy-related theses, but volunteers are needed to determine their degree status. 

The AstroGen team claims the database is "nearly complete" for 34 countries, mostly those where the theses are in English or a western-European language. The small AstroGen team can continue to expand to a few more countries with their limited linguistic skills, but to go much farther they will need some volunteers familiar with the languages and the academic cultures of Russia, Italy, and most of the countries in Asia. The team is also seeking someone knowledgeable enough to help sort out the French universities after all the recent mergers. A volunteer fluent in Latin could take charge of the older theses. Nearly all data-gathering is online.

If you are interested in helping build AstroGen, contact the director, Joseph S. Tenn.