He pioneered the study and research of the history of science. The George Sarton Medal has bee awarded every year by the History of Science Society since 1955.
He was forced to leave his country in the wake of World War I, initially emigrating to England then settling in the United States, becoming a lecturer and professor at Harvard University.
He planned to write a nine-volume history of science, but only managed to finish three volumes before his passing.
His wife, Mabel Eleanor Elwes, was an English artist; they married in 1911.
He fathered author May Sarton.