Other collection policy statements which overlap with the history of science, medicine and technology include special collections and archives (Special Collections Research Center), history, classics, ancient Near East, East Asian collections, medicine, biological sciences, mathematics, chemistry, geophysical sciences, astronomy and astrophysics, physics and technology.
Brief overview of the collection
History: For much of the history of the
Broad subject areas emphasized or
de-emphasized: Selection in the
history of science, medicine and technology focuses on collecting significant
studies of major scientific disciplines of major scientific disciplines and
major regions, and representative important studies in minor subjects. Current selection is generally limited to
secondary literature rather than historic source documents, although facsimile
editions of source documents produced by major historic scientific figures are
sometimes acquired. Selection is
supported by a number of funds endowed specifically for purchases in the
history of natural sciences, history of medicine, and history of technology and
engineering. Scientific (and proto-scientific) disciplines whose history and
development is particularly emphasized include astronomy (and
archaeoastronomy), chemistry (including alchemy), systematic biology (including
botany and zoology), natural history, theories of matter, physics, and
geology. History of medicine subjects
which are emphasized include studies of the nature of disease, anatomy,
psychiatry, and physiology.
Technological and applied science disciplines which are of particular
interest include early railroad technology, building engineering and
structures, other branches of engineering, and development of industrial
technologies that were important to the growth and development of the Chicago
region. Significant effort is also given
to selecting works examining the history and impact of underrepresented groups
of scientists (e.g., women chemists or minority engineers). Histories of major scientific organizations
or research universities are strong candidates for selection; histories of
minor scientific organizations or regional and local scientific activities are
of less interest, unless requested by a researcher or related to the
Description of academic program: The
Audience/Purpose: Collections are managed primarily to meet the
needs of current
Levels of selection: (comprehensive,
research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.)
Collection for the history of major scientific disciplines and medicine is at research level. For minor disciplines, or very specialized areas selection is at the basic information level. In the history of technology, collection is at research level in areas of traditional strength (e.g., aviation, railroad engineering, meat science, history of cookery) and otherwise is at instructional support level.
Type of materials included & excluded:
Very few types of materials are excluded altogether, although textbooks are
collected very selectively. Anthologies
of previously published materials are generally not collected, unless the
collection contains a reasonable quantity of previously unpublished material,
or extensive editorial additions, such as annotations, essays, comprehensive
bibliographic compilations, or significant prefatory material. Reprint and/or facsimile editions are
acquired somewhat selectively, with facsimile editions that contain critical
commentary or extensive editorial content are sometimes given stronger
consideration. Conference proceedings
are collected very selectively, often at the request of a University
researcher. Collected works (“omnia
opera”) of important scientists, natural philosphers and medical researchers
are actively collected. Biographies of
important scientific figures are high priority, and biographies of less eminent
persons are purchased when funding allows.
Bibliographies of most areas in the history of science, even very specialized
areas or of the works of minor figures are also high priority. While monographs in the history of science,
medicine, and technology are extremely important, significant attention is also
paid to building journals collections.
Journals backfiles, and in particular, online backfiles of a variety of
Physical formats included & excluded:
No formats entirely excluded, although some formats present significant access
and preservation challenges and are avoided when possible. Web access is strongly preferred over
physical electronic media (e.g., CD-ROMs).
Video and audio formats are acquired very selectively, with preference
given to the most current accessible technology available (e.g., currently DVD preferred
to VHS formats). Microform formats are
assessed for readability issues prior to selection, particularly in the case
where original print works contained color or grayscale images, detailed
schematics and drawings, or dense mathematical or chemical formulae, which do
not reproduce well in microform. For
journals and reference works, web-based electronic format is preferred over
print formats. Except in extremely rare
cases, a new journal title will be selected in electronic format without any
print equivalent. For more peripheral history
of science, medicine and technology subject areas, journals available as
electronic resources with current issues embargoes (up to one year) or selected
in print only subscriptions may be acceptable.
Journals in subject areas where no current research or teaching is
taking place are lowest priority, and access through interlibrary loan services
is acceptable for these peripheral materials.
Indexing and abstracting resources and reference works online are almost
exclusively preferred over print versions, due to the enhanced functionality
and usability. Monographs may be
selected in either print or electronic format.
Criteria for format selection for monographs are fully searchable text,
availability on established platform already in use by
Publication dates collected: There
is a heavy emphasis on acquisition of most recent editions and materials. With some exceptions, only the most recent
edition of monographs will be selected.
For periodicals, current access to most recent issues/articles of core
history of science, medicine and technology research journals is highest
priority. Retrospective purchasing is
done if funding allows. Retrospective
purchasing of monograph titles is more usual than is the practice for the
current disciplines, and facsimile or microform reprints of classic works will
be considered. Gifts of materials,
particularly in the areas of the history of technology, have been often helpful
to fill in gaps retrospectively.
· Languages: No language restrictions. For biographical works or works about a particular historical scientists work, non-English language works are concentrated in languages associated with the figure. General works in languages other than English are avoided. General histories of science or medicine that are geographically focused are also considered in a similar way. More advanced scholarly works in any language will be considered on their merits, regardless of language.
Example: Works about Enrico Fermi in Italian are preferred over works about Enrico Fermi in Spanish
Example: Works about medieval science and medicine in
Spain could be acquired in Catalan, but works about medieval science in England
written in Catalan would not be preferred.
Geographical range: No limits on
geographical range. Some preference may
be given to specific geographical regions in relation to specific scientific
disciplines (e.g., Arabic countries for history of mathematics, China for
materia medica, United States and Europe for late-nineteenth and
early-twentieth century technology)
Chronological span: No limits on
chronological span. Some preference
given to chronological periods where subject and area studies collections are
particularly strong (e.g., works on medicine in medieval
Areas of distinction: The collections are particularly strong in the history of technology in the mid- to late-nineteenth and early twentieth century. The library collection is renowned for its runs of technical and applied science journals (e.g., Prairie Farmer, American Brewer) published during this time frame, as well as for books, pamphlets and technical manuals that are rarely held elsewhere. The collections are also strong in the history of medicine, and specifically known for the nearly 30,000 rare books in this area, including the Clifford G. Grulee Collection on Pediatrics, the Nicholas Senn Collection on the History of Medicine, and the Howard C. Levis Collection on food, cookery, and nutrition. Rare books collections are available to users in the Special Collections Research Center at the Joseph Regenstein Library.
Cooperative arrangements and related collections
Northwestern University Library (particularly the Transportation Library)
National Library of Medicine (history of medicine collections)