In Memoriam: Mary Terrall

Published: September 19, 2023

I write with sad news. Our dear colleague and friend Mary Terrall, Professor of History Emerita, passed away on September 11, 2023. Mary was a brilliant historian of science and a beautifully literary writer, whose work, teeming with the richly observed and vibrant detail with which her subjects imagined the natural world, transformed our understanding of the Enlightenment. A devoted and active citizen of the Center/Clark’s scholarly community, Mary served twice as Clark Professor, as Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee, and as Interim Director during a particularly challenging time during the Clark’s closure.  Collaborating with Mary over the last 25 years—on our core program Vital Matters, in the administration of the Center/Clark, and on many dissertation committees—was always a joy and a privilege. She brought clear-sighted intelligence, wit, lucidity, laughter, warmth and generosity to all her scholarly and administrative endeavors. I am grateful that we were able to honor Mary with a special conference, Early Modern Explorations, in June 2022. Friends and colleagues also celebrated her at that event with posts on the theme Friendship engages your mind.

The Center/Clark is in her debt and she will be sorely missed.  We send our deepest sympathy to Mary’s partner, Ted Porter, and to her sons Adam and Noah.

A concert in her honor is being planned for this fall.

–Helen Deutsch