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History of Physics

Introduction to resources for the history of physics from ancient times to twentieth century

Finding Books

Can't Find the Book You Wanted?

Use the "Can't Find It? link in the catalog record to place a request for staff to search for the book

Ask the Library to purchase a copy of the book

Requesting books and media from other libraries using interlibrary loan service

TIP:  WorldCat  is a useful resource for identifying books that are not in the University of Chicago Library

Proquest Digital Dissertations is a resource listing dissertations from US and Canada.  Some dissertations are available for full text download.

Used/antiquarian book sources on the web:

Rare Books in the History of Science

Many major research libraries have collections of rare books which support scholarship in the history of science.  The following are just a few selected collections.


  • HathiTrust Digital Library
    The HathiTrust Digital Library brings together the immense collections of partner institutions (major research institutions and libraries) in digital form. Works from 18th, 19th and 20th century science are fully searchable and full PDFs may be downloaded by UChicago users after logging in with CNetID.

  • Google Books
    Excellent resource for discovering contemporary accounts of scientific research and discovery. Public domain works are full viewable, and many titles available as snippets in Google may be available in print in the UChicago Library collections.

  • Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800
    Project digitizes essentially every known monograph published in what is now the United States from 1639 through 1800. Includes books, pamphlets, broadsheets, etc., but not magazines or newspapers. Please take note of the "search hints" on the main search page.

  • Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819
    Continuation of the preceding resource.

  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online
    Comprehensive digital edition of The Eighteenth Century, a microfilm collection of 150,000 English-language titles and editions published between 1701 and 1800. Includes books and broadsides, Bibles, tract books and sermons to printed ephemera by well-known and lesser-known eighteenth-century authors.

  • Gallica
    Books, images & recordings from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Subject Specialist

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Andrea Twiss-Brooks
Director, Humanities and Area Studies
Chemistry and
Geophysical Sciences

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