Universiteit Leiden

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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 main University Library, partly in open stacks at the Waleus Library and the Library of Mathematics and Physics. 

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, covering the period between 1913 until the present.

Historical Abstracts indexes more than 2000 historical journals in various fields.

Project Muse and JSTOR are portals that provide access to hundreds of scientific journals in a wide range of topics.

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.

In print:

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.

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.

The Cambridge History of Science is a renowned series published in eight volumes, beginning with Ancient Mesopotamia and classical Greece and Rome, through the Medieval period, early modern Europe, and on through modern science. The series are also available on paper in the study room S.BETA, nr. 05 5824 - 05 5827.

Oxford Reference Premium is a database with dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference works, also on the subject of sciences and history.

Dictionary of the History of Science (William F. Bynum e.a., Princeton UP 1982): short historical accounts of the important themes, ideas, and discoveries of science

Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures (Helaine Selin, 3rd edition, Springer 2015): 1000 entries dealing with the history of the scientific, technological and medical accomplishments of cultures outside of the United States and Europe.

Dizionario delle scienze e delle tecniche di Grecia e Roma (P. Radici Colace, Fabrizio Serra Editore 2010)

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