History of Science Collection
Rare Books and Special Collections
The Linda Hall Library has been collecting resources related to the history of science and technology since its opening in 1946. Today its History of Science Collection contains over 10,000 printed books, which allow scholars to track the development of scientific concepts from the fifteenth century to the present. These volumes, along with more recent scholarship in the Library’s general collection, allow scholars to place those ideas in a broader social and cultural context. Many of them are also lavishly illustrated, reflecting changes in scientific illustration and printing techniques over the centuries.
The History of Science Collection is available as a resource to scholars and the general public. Researchers should contact Cindy Rogers to schedule an appointment at least one day in advance. Further information about arranging group tours can be found here. Visit this page for additional details about the Linda Hall Library’s fellowship program.
Strengths of the Collection
The History of Science Collection contains numerous landmark volumes from the history of science and technology, including Georg Joachim Rheticus, Narratio Prima (1540); Nicolaus Copernicus, De revolutionibus orbium coelstium (Nurember, 1543); Robert Hooke, Micrographia (London, 1665); Isaac Newton, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (London, 1687), and Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (London, 1859).
The Collection has particularly strong holdings in astronomy, geology and paleontology, natural history, engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences. It also houses several early scientific periodicals, including complete sets of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, beginning in 1665, and the Acta Eruditorum, dating from 1682. Other genres of scientific publication—such as star atlases, herbals, and encyclopedic works of early natural history—are also well-represented.
Over the years, the Linda Hall Library has expanded the History of Science Collection through the purchase of individual volumes and the acquisition of outside collections. The 1946 purchase of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences provided the foundation of a rare book and reference collection to support research into the history of science and technology. During the 1980s, the Library acquired portions of the Herbert Hoover Collection of rare books in mining and metallurgy, the George White Collection in early geology, and the Robert B. Honeyman Collection of scientific books. The transfer of the Engineering Societies Library in 1995 provided the Library with hundreds of early books on engineering, mathematics, physics, geology, and related sciences, as well as the Ball Collection of Gemology.