Linda Hall Library
Science, Engineering & Technology Information for the World

RSS Notifications

  • The Library will be closed on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

History of Science Collection

Rare Books and Special Collections

The History of Science Collection  includes printed books from the fifteenth century to the present. Additional materials to support historical research are available in the Library’s general collections of over one million volumes.

Visitors are welcome to the rare book room in the History of Science Center, which is available for special classes and group presentations on the History of Science Collection. Researchers may consult materials from the collection in the separate reading room.

About the Collection

From its opening in 1946, the Linda Hall Library has included resources for study in the history of science and technology. In 1947, the purchase of the entire library of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences provided the foundation of a rare book and reference collection to support research in the history of science and technology. Smaller collections, such as portions of the Herbert Hoover collection of rare books in mining and metallurgy, the Robert B. Honeyman collection of scientific books, and the George White collection in early geology were acquired in the 1980s. In 1995, the entire collection of the Engineering Societies Library was transferred to the Linda Hall Library, including the Ball Gemmology Collection and hundreds of early books on engineering, mathematics, physics, geology, and other related sciences.

Scientific Journals and Periodicals

Long runs of scientific and technical journals dating from the seventeenth century are a special strength of the library’s collections. More than 40,000 titles are currently represented, including a complete set of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, beginning in 1665. A long-term acquisitions program has filled in the gaps for older titles, while current acquisitions assure a steady flow of the most recent scientific and technical journals, including those dealing with the history of science and technology.

Subject Areas of Strength

  • Astronomy
  • Star atlases
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Optics
  • Natural sciences of the Renaissance
  • Encyclopedic works of early natural history
  • Natural history museums and collections
  • Scientific classification
  • Early herbals
  • Natural magic
  • Jesuit science
  • Geology and paleontology
  • Theories of the earth
  • Engineering projects
  • Inventions and machines

Classics and Landmarks

Landmarks of science and technology that are recognized for their seminal influence, groundbreaking ideas, or presentation of initial discoveries are included in the collection.