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Collection Strengths

History of Science

In addition to the named collections below, the Department includes other important holdings (especially pre-1801) for history of science and related fields. Check the Library Catalog and the card catalog in the Department. Several exhibits and e-facsimiles drawing on the Department's holdings are available online.

Named collections for history of science include

  • Daniel and Eleanor Albert Collection of optics and the eye, containing more than 700 important works, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, along with earlier titles by Avicenna, Aguilon, Witelo, Parey, Wiseman and others; a noteworthy copy of Hooke's Micrographia, plus rare books in other fields. Titles are listed in the Library Catalog; see the Libraries magazine (1999) for more information.
  • Boyle Collection, a nearly comprehensive collection of works by Robert Boyle (1627–1691), including first editions and items not recorded in Fulton's bibliography of Boyle. Acquired in 1958. Shelf-list available in the card catalog in the Department (with call numbers 1068353 noncurrent -069692 noncurrent, 1070871 noncurrent -1070876 noncurrent)
  • Cole Collection of Chemistry, containing more than 1000 works on chemistry from the 17th through the 19th centuries, some acquired in 1977 and more received in 1998 and thereafter as a gift from William and Nora Cole. Individual titles are cataloged with call number beginning Cole Coll C. The Cole Collection also includes significant manuscript holdings, a few of which have been digitized. See Chemical literature, 1700-1860 by William A. Cole (London, New York: Mansell, 1988) for bibliographical details. There is some overlap between the Cole Collection and the Duveen Collection.
  • Dissertations Collection, containing several thousand dissertations, mostly from Uppsala and Lund, Sweden; some from Finland and a few from Germany. Chiefly in Latin; many address topics in theology or philology.
  • Duveen Alchemy and Chemistry Collection, comprised of some 3000 16th- and 17th-century works in alchemy and chemistry. See Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica by Denis L. Duveen (London: E. Weil, 1949) for bibliographical details. A sample pamphlet from the Secreti italiani in the Duveen Collection has been digitized.
  • English Almanacs (1638-1860), a subset of the Thordarson Collection, contain miscellaneous practical and historical information, including calendars, advertisements, astronomical and astrological information, timetables, and advice for farming and health. A title listing is also available in the card catalog in the Department.
  • George W. White Collection of some 270 works on glaciology and geology, primarily English and French, of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. Included are editions of works by Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749-1817). Cataloged with call numbers CA 6361 through CA 6624. Shelf-list also available in the Special Collections card catalog.
  • Linnean Collection of more than 200 works by or related to Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), with call numbers beginning LIN. For other works by Linnaeus either in Special Collections or elsewhere in the UW-Madison libraries, see the Library Catalog.
  • Mathematical Textbooks Collection, including some 150 volumes from the late 18th and first half of the 19th century, from the collection of William F. Jahn. The 18th-century titles are in Special Collections (shelf-list available in the card catalog in the Department, beginning with the call number LB8J19 Cutter); the remainder are in Memorial Library as part of the Cutter collection.
  • Mesmerism Collection, documenting the ideas of F. An. Mesmer (1733-1815). Shelf-list available in the card catalog in the Department (with call numbers CA 3275 - CA 3287, including 12 volumes of pamphlets in CA 3278).
  • Charles C. Miller Memorial Apicultural Library or Miller Bee Collection, containing some 5000 titles (1600-1930) from around the world, including items from the H. J. O. Walker Library purchased for the Miller Collection. Most titles appear in the Library Catalog; some have been digitized in connection with the UW-Madison Libraries' participation in the Google Library Initiative. A list of titles in the Miller Bee Collection is available in Special Collections; see also the Descriptive catalogue of a library of bee-books (Z5256 W82 and Z5256 W35 in the Special Collections reading room).
  • Books from Isaac Newton's personal library, including a presentation copy of Boyle's Essays of effluviums (1675) and a heavily annotated copy of the alchemical work Secrets reveal'd (1669). Inventory available in the Department.
  • Some 167 British and American titles of ornithology, including color-plate items and scholarly studies, acquired in 1959 from Warner Taylor. Inventory and shelf-list available in the card catalog in the Department (under the call numbers 1166940 noncurrent through 1166976 noncurrent). Many more illustrated works of ornithology are contained in the Thordarson Collection.
  • Priestley Collection, including most important theological and scientific works by Joseph Priestley. 135 items acquired in 1958. Shelf-list available in the card catalog in the Department (under the call numbers 1069693 noncurrent through 1070876 noncurrent). The Cole Collection contains other titles by and about Priestley.
  • Robert Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science, containing nearly 900 titles collected by Robert Schadewald on a variety of pseudo-science topics, including creationism, cult activity, UFOs, and theories on Earth's size, shape, age and density. The collection also includes extensive archival materials. Donated by Wendy Schadewald in 2001. Printed works are cataloged separately with call numbers beginning CA 15700 no. 1.
  • Science and Religion Collection, assembled by Prof. Ronald Numbers and donated to Special Collections. The collection features more than 700 titles on the relationship of science and religion with a particular focus on creationism and evolution. They are cataloged separately with call numbers beginning CA 15501 no. 1.
  • Stem Cell Research Archives Project, which collects, preserves, and provides access to records of stem cell research at UW-Madison and reactions in Wisconsin to work accomplished or underway at UW-Madison. A joint undertaking of the University Archives, the Department of Special Collections in Memorial Library, and the Historical Services in Ebling Library of the Health Sciences.
  • Thordarson Collection, as built by Chester H. Thordarson, immigrant from Iceland and noted electrical engineer. The collection contains several thousand volumes, with particular strengths in illustrated natural history and English science. Titles are cataloged individually with call numbers beginning Thordarson T 1. Some aspects of the collection are described in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, v. 23 (1930) and 44 (1950). More information about the formation and contents of the Thordarson Collection is available in manuscript form in Special Collections (MS 7).