I want to present here the results of a hobby research I've done last year in the Harvard Archives.
Ever since I've read Kuhn I was puzzled and surprised by his account of how he discovered (not invented!) the idea of 'revolutionary change'. Kuhn applies his own theory on himself and describes a moment when he had the 'Gestalt switch.'
Here is the relevant passage:
There is much to be said about this 'an apple fell on my head' moment and historians, sociologists and philosophers have certainly considered it while dipping their feathers in the inkwell to write about Kuhn.
Internalizing a positively post-Kuhnian concern with the place and location where knowledge is produced, I became immensely curious about where Kuhn could have been when he 'gazed abstractly out the window' and about what he could have possibly seen. So I set out to the archives to find out!
Here's what I found out.
In 1947 Kuhn was a resident tutor at Kirkland House. (A resident tutor is a graduate student or lecturer who lives in the undergraduate houses at Harvard and advises the students on his floor and those that are assigned to him.) He lived on the second floor, in room G23. The picture above is of the window of the room. From Kuhn's window one can see the small park in front of Kirkland and between two trees, one in front of the other, Mill Street biting from one crimson corner of Eliot House, fading off-scene along its length.
This is the picture I snapped just today:
In my reasearches I managed to find all the places Kuhn lived while he was at Harvard. I made this map in Google's map application marking all the places where he lived. (click on the markers for more info.)
Here's a brief summary of Kuhn's career at Harvard and the places he used to live:
1942 - Undergraduate - Lowell E-43
1947 - Teaching fellow in general education - Kirkland G23
1949 - Junior fellow of Harvard's society of fellows - 29 Lawrence St.
1951 - Instructor in General Education - 29 Lawrence St.
1952 - Assistant Professor of General Education and the History of Science - 74 Buckingham St.
1954 - Assistant Professor of the History of Science and of General Education - 74 Buckingham St.
1955-56 - idem.
Kuhn left Cambridge in 1956 after being refused tenure at Harvard.