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History of Science Collection Development Policy

General Purpose

No independent history of science program or department currently exists at Dartmouth; the collection goal is to support a liberal arts education and faculty research needs.

Dartmouth College Program

Activities at Dartmouth which directly bear on the history of science are:

  • Science and Technology Studies (STS) "provides a curricular and extracurricular focus for students and faculty seeking to examine the historical, philosophical and social traditions that have shaped the construction of science and technology, and the effects of science and technology on other intellectual, social and political activities."(2009 Organization, Regulations, and Courses, ORC p.616) While STS is not a department or program and does not offer a major, it does identify "a core of Dartmouth faculty... interested in the history , philosophy or social relations of science and technology, and the interdisciplinary courses they offer in these areas." (ORC)

    13 faculty are currently listed as involved in STS with 33 course offerings. (ORC)

  • A tenure-track position in the Department of History focused on the history of science
  • A tenure-track position in the Department of Biology focused on the history and philosophy of biology

General Subject Boundaries

While history of science and technology is not usually found outside the science and technology areas, the subject area is becoming more interdisciplinary in nature. In fact, areas within the social sciences and humanities now contain a growing number of titles which deal with a variety of science/technology history themes; e.g., the sociology of knowledge, the philosophy of science, the anthropology of science, and gender studies, to name a few.

History of science material is generally found in the following Library of Congress classifications: general history of science is classified in Q and the histories of specific science fields are within the classification of that subject. For example, QE, the history of geology, QC, the history of physics, QL, the history of zoology, etc. In addition, the history of technology classes in T.

In the Dewey system, 506 (organizations and societies) and 509 (history of science) are the areas in which material is classified. Most Dewey-classed material is approximately 1960 and earlier.


The collection is primarily in English, but no language is excluded.

Chronological Scope Collected

Any time period is considered.

Geographic Areas

Coverage is world-wide with an emphasis on North America, Western Europe and Asia; however, no area is specifically excluded.

Types Of Material Collected

Monographs and sets, serials, government publications, conference proceedings, dissertations and theses, and various indexes, abstracts and bibliographies are included in the collection. No material type is excluded.

A special type of material collected is the papers of Dartmouth science faculty. Special Collections makes every effort to identify faculty who have made significant contributions to science and technology and they actively solicit the ownership of the material. In addition, they encourage suggestions from faculty, colleagues and librarians.

Format Of Materials Collected

The predominant format is print, with a growing amount being in digital form; no format is excluded.

Selection Responsibility

Acquiring materials in the history of science is the responsibility of all librarians with collecting assignments in the sciences. For instance, the engineering bibliographer is responsible for history of technology resources; for biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, computer science and astronomy, individual science bibliographers are responsible for historical material in their disciplines. The philosophy bibliographer collects material in the philosophy of science and the history of the philosophy of science. Rare books and incunabula dealing with the history of science are the responsibility of the rare books bibliographer. Literature on modern science from approximately 1960 through the present is acquired by the bibliographer who manages the Science (general) fund. For more details and specific collecting intensities, see the Collection Policy Statements for specific science and technology subjects.

The materials acquired by the history of science bibliographer compliments and does not duplicate what science bibliographers acquire. The focus is on general works and on materials for faculty research needs. Selection is made from the following Library of Congress classifications:

Q115-116 Science (General)--Scientific voyages and expeditions (General)
Q124.6-127.2 Science (General)--History
Q141-143 Science (General)--Biography
Q184-185.7 Science (General)--Instruments and apparatus (General)
QA21-27 Mathematics--History
QB15-QB34 Astronomy--History
QC7 Physics--History
QD11-QD15 Chemistry--History
QE11 Geology--History
QH15 Natural history (General)--History
QH305 Biology (General)--History and conditions
QK15 Botany--History
QL15 Zoology--History
QM11 Human anatomy--History
QP21 Physiology--History
QR21 Microbiology--History
R131.A3-Z Medicine (General)--History--General works
T15-T20 Technology (General)--History

Other Resources Available

  • The Rauner Special Collections Library holds both printed and manuscript materials relating to the history of science. Included are incunabla and early printings of scientific works as well as a large collection of primary and secondary works on Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814). The Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration contains works on the exploration, both geographic and scientific, of the Arctic and Antarctic regions from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Notable collections of manuscripts include the papers of George Stibitz (1904- ) on the history of computing; Count Rumford on physics and optics; Charles Augustus Young (1834-1908) on astronomy; and Gordon Ferrie Hull (1870-1956) on physics. Rauner holds the personal books of General Sylvanus Thayer and other material relating to civil engineering during the 19th century with bridge building a prominent focus. The College Archives is an important resource for the scientific history of Dartmouth College.

  • The Library maintains a collection of films back to circa 1920 and videotapes/DVDs back to 1970. These resources contain lectures by Dartmouth faculty and are, as such, an important addition to the history of science collection.

  • The Hood Museum of Art holds the Allen King Collection of Scientific Instruments. (D. Pantalony, R. L. Kremer, F. J. Manasek. Study, Measure, Experiment: Stories of Scientific Instruments at Dartmouth College. Terra Nova Press, Norwich, Vermont, 2005.)

  • The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (DUJS) "aims to increase scientific awareness within the Dartmouth community by providing an interdisciplinary forum for sharing undergraduate research and enriching scientific knowledge. DUJS was founded in 1998."

Revision History

Bill McEwen, Connie Rinaldo

Barbara DeFelice

Mark Mounts (2009)

LC Classes

Q, R, T

Current Bibliographers

Jane Quigley, Mark Mounts

Last Updated: 8/5/16