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New Acquisitions in the History of Science Collection

January – March 2020

After the close of the exhibition, Then and Now: Photography and the Printed Image, our intention was to install a rotating display of new acquisitions in the west gallery. This effort was to be a continuation of the displays in the Rare Book Room, allowing easier public access to a rotating display of rare books newly added to the collection.

However, current events necessitated a change in this plan.

We present here four items added to the collection in the first three months of 2020. These four items are a sampling of the 20 items we purchased in the first quarter of the year, which we hope to feature later in the year. We welcome your questions about these items, and look forward to the day when we can share them with you in-person. Also, a special thanks to the dealers for sharing their images of the items, as we cannot digitize the materials at present.

Jason W. Dean, Vice President for Special Collections

Lynn M. Osen
The Feminine Math-tique
Pittsburgh, 1971

Lynn M. Osen was an accomplished mathematician who began her career as a systems analyst at the Alameda Naval Air Station during the Second World War, and was awarded the U.S. Naval Department’s Civilian Service Award for her original contributions to the Navy’s first computerized record-keeping system. She continued working for the Navy until moving to California in 1954, and then worked as a professor at the University of California, Irvine, between 1969 and 1977.

One of seven known copies, this work makes plain the social and psychological barriers preventing young women from enjoying mathematics and pursuing careers in math-centric fields. She describes the feminine mathtique as a myth that “encourages the notion that to enjoy mathematics in its many forms is to be, in some obscure way, at variance with one’s womanhood.” During her life Osen devoted much of her time and energy to dispelling that myth among her contemporaries.

Acquired from Alembic Rare Books.

Luiz Cruls
Mémoire sur Mars
Rio de Janeiro, 1878

Louis (Luiz) Ferdinand Cruls was a Belgian-Brazilian astronomer and Director of the Brazilian National observatory from 1881 to 1908. In this book, he publishes his observations made during the 1877 opposition of Mars, with heliogravures made from photographs taken of that event.

The observations made during that opposition resulted in the now discredited theory that Mars was inhabited and had canals created by those inhabitants. This theory was popularized by Camille Flammarion in his La planète Mars et ses conditions d’habitabilité. In the book, Flammarion wrote about how these channels resembled man-made canals, which an intelligent race could use to redistribute water across a dying Martian world. This volume was a gift from Cruls to Camille Flammarion.

Acquired from Antiquariat Michael Kühn.

Joseph Jérôme Lefrançais de Lalande &
Marie Jeanne Amélie Harlay Lefrançais de Lalande
Abrégé de navigation
Paris, 1793

Four fifths of this book is comprised of horary tables, which sailors could use to calculate the time of day while at sea. Significantly, the tables are the work of Marie Jeanne Amélie Harlay Lefrançois de Lalande, Jérôme’s illegitimate daughter. He trained Amélie as an astronomer to support his work.

The tables were originally meant to be completed by a male colleague, Nicolas Maurice Chompré, but his work proved too slow on account of other obligations, and so Amélie created the horary tables. Despite her creation of the majority of this book, Amélie is not named on the title page. However, she does receive credit in the preface, where he states he is her uncle, not her father. When Jérôme received an award for the book, he dedicated it to Amélie, hoping to provide her with a modicum of credit.

Acquired from Patrick Olson Rare Books.

George Smith
A Dissertation on the General Properties of Eclipses: and Particularly the Ensuing Eclipse of 1748 Considered Thro’ all its Periods
London, 1748

This rare pamphlet by Smith, an English schoolmaster and amateur astronomer, examines the application of eclipse periods to the prediction of eclipses using the 18-year Saros cycle. Significantly, the pamphlet includes a detailed map of the path of the total solar eclipse of July 1748 with illustrations of the extent of the eclipse as it would be seen in various cities.

The map, issued in January 1748, correctly predicts the path of the solar eclipse of July 14, 1748 across the Northern Hemisphere. The chart was published by the British Parliament in early 1748 informing the British public of the appearance of the solar eclipse of July 14.

Acquired from Antiquariat Michael Kühn.

Saturday openings for 2020 (Please note that due to health concerns regarding COVID-19, the Linda Hall Library is closed until further notice):

January 11 April 11 July 11  October 10
February 8 May 9 August 8 November 14
March 14 June 13 September 12 December 12

Reference, research, and circulation services are not available on Second Saturdays.