Robert P. Multhauf (1919-2004), historian of science, was born in Sioux City, South Dakota. He graduated from Iowa State University, B.S., 1941, and received his M.A., 1950, and Ph.D., 1953, from the University of California at Berkeley. Multhauf was employed by the Smithsonian Institution as Associate Curator for the Division of Engineering, United States National Museum (USNM), in 1954. The following year he became Curator of the Division and in 1957 was appointed Head Curator of the Department of Engineering and Industries at USNM. When USNM was reorganized and the Museum of History and Technology (MHT) was established in 1957, Multhauf became Head Curator for the Department of Science and Technology under MHT. He also served as Acting Curator of the Division of Physical Sciences within the Department.
In 1966, Multhauf was appointed Director of MHT and served in this capacity until 1969, the year MHT was renamed the National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT). Afterwards he became Senior Scientific Scholar of the Department of Science and Technology, 1970-1977, and for the Department of the History of Science, 1978-1979, at NMHT. Multhauf joined the staff of the Office of Senior Historians in 1980, when NMHT was renamed the National Museum of American History, and retired from the Smithsonian Institution in 1987.