History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

The Huntington's history of science collection is one of the largest and most important in North America. Its diverse materials document western practice and theory in science, medicine, technology, and a variety of subdisciplines. Holdings range widely, from a 13th-century Ptolemy Almagest manuscript and landmark printed books in the world-renowned Burndy Library to modern civil engineering reports and aerospace archives.

Works on medicine include medieval medical and astronomical miscellanies and hundreds of books printed before 1501. The Lawrence D. Longo and Betty Jeanne Longo Collection in Reproductive Biology contains approximately 2,700 rare books on obstetrics and gynecology from the 16th-century to the present. The Huntington is also home to the Los Angeles County Medical Association collection.

The Mohr Darwin Collection holds nearly 1,700 publications by and about Charles Darwin and his circle. Complementary botanical and zoological books and manuscripts include such highlights as John James Audubon's double-elephant folio Birds of America (1827–1838). Significant among astronomy resources are the papers of Edwin Hubble and the Carnegie Observatories' Mount Wilson Observatory Collection, with over a thousand books on the history of astronomy and physics, as well as its directors' papers and photographic archives.

The arrival of Bern Dibner's Burndy Library in 2006 enormously magnified the depth and scope of Huntington holdings. The Burndy contains 47,000 rare monographic and serial volumes and 50 archival collections. The history of early mathematics and physics is a great strength, with the largest assemblage of Isaac Newton materials outside England, the Grace K. Babson Collection, on deposit from Babson College. Other topics well represented include the history of electricity, bridge and water engineering, metallurgy, color theory and practice, and aeronautics. The Burndy also holds a small but choice selection of pre-1900 Asian materials, including some of the rarest books about Western science published in Japan.

Image credit: Joseph Guichard Duverney (1648-1730), Myologie complette en couleur et grandeur naturelle..., 1746. Artist: Jacques Fabien Gautier D'agoty (1716-1785). RB 621845. On long-term loan from the Los Angeles County Medical Association, 1992.

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