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, "Mineral Lands, Mineral Empire: Mapping the Raw Materials of U.S. Industrial Capitalism," is concerned with how the rise of US industrial power depended on the geological mapping and expropriation of North American mineral lands since the early nineteenth century. He is a dissertation fellow in residence at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia and a recipient of a dissertation completion fellowship for 2022-2023 from the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. His work has received additional support from the American Philosophical Society, 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.]

"The Colonial History of Geology in the United States," Insurrect! Radical Thinking in Early American Studies, November 12, 2021.


“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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