Does each individual subfield have a sort of curator for the history of said research dominion? And I mean in context to what was known at the time, how things were discovered and what was so novel about it? The subtext and nuances of this is usually left out of the articles that have been largely sterilized of anything that is not data and conclusions. In the DNA repair field we are lucky to have a few great historians, namely Errol Friedberg, who has a fascinating book out Correcting the Blueprint of Life: An Historical Account of the Discovery of DNA Repair Mechanisms.
This book is a wealth of knowledge and takes you back to the days of Luria and Delbruck and beyond, including personal letters to colleagues and interviews with the living. Further enriching the history of our field is that our field specific journal, DNA Repair* has taken to publishing brief autobiographical perspectives each month. These are fantastic personal accounts of the days of science yonder from well respected scientists, they paint a rich picture of what the pulse of research was back then, challenges to overcome and new technologies that were opening up to them.
Much thanks to Errol and anyone else that works so hard to preserve the rich and engrossing history of their fields.
*Errol is also the Editor in Chief of DNA Repair and I can only assume he had a hand in setting up these perspectives.