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Subject guide

History of Science

Overview of databases, reference works and website for research in the History of Science

History of mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy/aerospace and biology) including monographs on individual areas such as physical chemistry, mathematical analysis; history of material culture (eg telescopes.); primary texts (correspondence, interviews, collected works) of historically important scientists as Leonhard von Euler, Johannes Kepler and Albert Einstein.
Historiographical studies on the scientific study of various sub-disciplines such as linguistics, theology and Islamic studies
On all aspects, with an emphasis on Greek / Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment. Includes history of psychiatry.
History of scientific publishing; science in relation to society; sociology of science, philosophical discussions about contemporary developments in science

The physical collection for History of Science is mainly placed in the closed stacks at the University Library, partly in open stacks at the Waleus Library and the Science Library

Reference collection

A reading room with a collection of reference works is freely accessible on the first floor of the University Library. Items from this collection can not be borrowed, but it is possible to make copies or scans. The collection comprises:

  • Reference works and bibliographies sort by subject
  • Primary and secundary literature on an array of subjects
  • Journals (only current issues)

The collection is organized by the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). Book titles in the field of History of Science are distributed among the various scientific disciplines. To locate individual titles, please refer to the Catalogue.

Printed journals

Current journal volumes in the field of History of Science, which are not available digitally, are placed in study room 2. Back volumes are located in the closed stacks and can be requested via the Catalogue.

ISIS Current Bibliography of the History of Science and its Cultural Influences is one of the most important bibliographies on the history of science. The bibliography was published yearly from 1913 on as part of the journal Isis and gives an extended overview of recent publications within the field of history of science and related subjects. Search for issue S1 within each volume. Publication years 1913-1975 are also available in Open Access.

Scientific Instrument Commission Cumulative Bibliography: open access bibliography with approx 3.600 title of books, pamphlets, catalogues and articles on scientific instruments. Coverage from 1983 until 2009.

Bibliografia Italiana di Storia della Scienza: this open access bibliography contains citations of books, journals, articles, essays and reviews on history of science published between 1982 to 2011.

International bibliography of humanism and the renaissance: coverage from 1965 until now. The database contains over  330.000 citations on 16th and 17th century European history.

L'histoire des sciences arabes classiques : une bibliographie sélective critique (Mohammed Abattouy, Casablanca : Fondation du Roi Abdul-Aziz 2007): extended bibliography, available in Open Access.

A history of science in the Netherlands : survey, themes and reference (Klaas van Berkel e.a., Brill 1999): chronological and thematic survey of the history of science in the Netherlands from the 16th century to the present, essays on selected aspects of science in the Netherlands, and reference biographies of about 65 important Dutch scientists. In the study room: Q127.N2 H58 1999

Bibliography of Medical and Biomedical Biography (L.T. Morton, 3rd. edition, Ashgate 2005): details readily available sources of information in the English language on significant figures in the history of medicine and the biomedical sciences. In the study room: R134 .M67 2005.

Handbuch Gelehrtenkultur der Frühen Neuzeit (Herbert Jaumann, De Gruyter 2004): part I consists of a bio-bibliographical repertoire of the most significant authors from the culture of letters between the 15th and 18th century. Part II is still in preparation and will contain articles on central concepts of learned culture. In the study room: CT3990.A2 J38.

The History of Natural History (Gavin D.R. Bridson, Linnean Society 2008): references to publications on history of natural history, history of botany, history of zoology, research methodology, scientists and societies.

Dictionary of the History of Science (William F. Bynum, MacMillan 1981): short historical accounts of important themes, ideas, and discoveries in the history of science. In the study room Q125 .D45 1981.

Dictionnaire d'histoire et philosophie des sciences (Dominique Lecourt, Presses Universitaires de France 1999): focus on philosophical reflection en historical context of scientific theories and inventions. In the study room: Q124.8 .D53 1999

Encyclopedia of the History of Technology (Ian McNeil, Routledge 1990): extended introduction on the place of technology in history. Also articles on materials, energy sources, transport, documentary information, agriculture, weaponry and much more. Online.

Instruments of science: an historical encyclopedia (Robert Bud, Garland 1998). In the study room: Q184.5 .I57 1998. For publications in this subject also check Epact: Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe.

Medieval science, technology and medicine: an encyclopedia (Thomas F. Glick, Routledge 2005): discusses the research, application of knowledge, cultural and technology exchanges, experimentation, and achievements in the many disciplines related to science and technology in the middle ages. Coverage includes inventions, discoveries, concepts, places and fields of study, regions, and significant contributors to various fields of science. There are also entries on South-Central and East Asian science. In the study room: Q124.97 .M43 2005  

The scientific revolution : an encyclopedia (William E. Burns, ABC-CLIO, cop. 2001): contains articles on persons, subjects as Arabic science and the history of blood transfusions en of institutions (among other Leiden University) In the study room: Q127 .E8 B87 2001

Dizionario delle scienze e delle tecniche di Grecia e Roma (Colace Radici, Fabrizio Serra Editore 2010): focuses on significant concepts in scientific and technical knowledge in antiquity, the development of scientific and technical thought and the relation between Latin, Byzantine and Arab science. In the study room: Q124.95 .D55 2010

Encyclopedia of ancient natural scientists: the Greek tradition and its many heirs (Paul Keyser, Routledge 2008): survey of all ancient natural science, from its beginnings through the end of Late Antiquity. Includes a Glossary, Gazetteer, and Time-Line. In the study room: Q124.95 E.53 2008

Encyclopedia of the history of Arabic science (Roshdi Rashed, Routledge 1996): encyclopedia in three parts, mainly focused on the sciences. The encyclopedia pictures the reception of Arabic science in Andalucia and Latin universities. Almost no attention for science in the Persian and Turkish language. In the study room of Special Collections (2nd floor, entrance 4): Q127 .A5 E53

Mathematicians, astronomers, and other scholars of Islamic civilization and their works, 7th-19th c. (Boris A. Rosenfeld,  Istanbul:  IRCICA 2003): pages 513-739 contains an extended bibliography on author. In the study room of Special Collections (2nd floor, entrance 4): QA27.A67 R694 2003

Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (Helaine Selin, Springer 2016): approximately 1000 entries dealing in depth with the history of the scientific, technological and medical accomplishments of cultures outside of the United States and Europe. Also includes intercultural articles on broad topics such as mathematics and astronomy as well as thoughtful philosophical articles on concepts and ideas related to the study of non-Western Science, such as rationality, objectivity, and method. Online

  • Medieval Manuscripts: herbaria, arte manuscripts, texts of classical and medieval scholars (among others Lucretius, Pliny, Thomas Acquino)
  • Post-medieval manuscripts and private archives: alchemical manuscripts, lecture notes of Leiden professors; alba amicorum of Leiden students; manuscripts from the collection of the Academic History Museum; archives of Leiden professors; archives of institutions: Legatum Stolpianum.
  • University Archives: Leiden University is the oldest scientific institution in our country and one of the foremost universities in Europe. Its archives cover more than four centuries and are a rich source for historians of science.
  • Letters: correspondence of professors (search by name in the letter catalog).
  • Prints and drawings from Leiden University buildings and sites, including the Academy Building, the Hortus Botanicus, the anatomical theatre and the Old Library are available via Memory of the Netherlands.

Digital exhibitions

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