Gustave Lester

Gustave Lester

Lester Photo

Research Interests: History of earth sciences; environmental history; history of capitalism; settler colonial studies; U.S. Empire; Early American studies; Native American and Indigenous studies.

Gustave Lester is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He studies the history of the earth sciences in the contexts of settler colonialism and industrial capitalism in North America. His dissertation is concerned with how the global ascendancy of US industrial manufacturing at the end of the 19th century depended on the geological mapping and expropriation of North American mineral lands in the early 19th century. In 2020-2021 he was the Friends of the American Philosophical Society Predoctoral Fellow in Early American History (to 1840). In 2021-2022, he will be a Haas Dissertation Fellow at the Beckman Center of the Science History Institute. His work has received additional support from the Huntington Library, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Linda Hall Library, the Geological Society of America, and the New York State Library and Archives.


“Land, Fur, and Copper: The Union of Settler Colonialism and Industrial Capitalism in the Great Lakes Region, 1815-1842.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. [Forthcoming.]

Papers Presented:

“Territorial Science and the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe,” Michigan Technological University, April 2021.

“Rebirth of a Mineral Obsession: The State, Knowledge, and Mineral Resources in Early America,” McNeil Center for Early American Studies, March 2021.

“Land, Fur, and Copper: Territorial Science and Settler Colonialism in the Western Great Lakes, 1815–1854,” Science History Institute, Lunchtime Lecture Series, October 2020.

“Mineral Lands of the Western Great Lakes and the Union of Settler Colonialism and Territorial Capitalism, 1815-1854,” Mining, Technology, and the Environment in the Americas Conference, University of California, Irvine, October 2020.

“Frontier Science, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Mineral Lands of the Western Great Lakes, 1800-1850,” New Earth Histories Conference, Sydney, Australia, December 2019.

Previous Degrees:
B.S., History, University of Idaho

A.A., General Studies, North Idaho College

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