Thayer School of Engineering was founded in 1867 by General Sylvanus Thayer as the first professional School of Engineering in the United States. It was Thayer's strong belief that engineers ought to be educated in the liberal arts as well as being proficient in the technical skills needed in their profession. He felt that essential to the best engineering was an understanding of the economic, cultural, historical, and political environment in which the technology would be developed and applied. In 1867, General Sylvanus Thayer made a donation of $40,000 to the Trustees of Dartmouth College "for the purpose of establishing... a School or Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering". Thayer's dream became a reality four years later in 1871, when the Thayer School of Architecture and Civil Engineering opened its doors.

During the early years, Thayer School took up residence in several locations on campus before becoming permanently housed in Cummings Hall in 1939. Between 1939 and 1990, building additions, renovations and a major expansion were made to accommodate increased interest, growth and enrollment in engineering. The new facilities included two lecture halls, increased office space for both faculty and students, and increased laboratory and classroom space to accommodate the fields of Bio-engineering, Cold Regions Science and Engineering, and Computer and Electrical Engineering. During these years, the Cook Engineering Design Center (CEDC) was endowed by Marian Miner Cook as a memorial to her husband, John Brown Cook.

John Brown Cook graduated from Dartmouth College in 1929. He became universally recognized as one of the telephone industry's greatest leaders. In 1969 he joined the Thayer School Board of Overseers, and was active on the Board until 1975. He was dedicated and committed to both technological innovation and the education of engineers. The CEDC is the direct, working connection between Thayer School and industry. Companies present the Center with challenges or problems they are facing, and become CEDC Associates by sponsoring student projects that respond to those needs. By working with these Associates, Thayer School students develop specific skills that are of value to companies -- and discover first-hand the importance of innovation, development, and entrepreneurship in the marketplace.

In 2006, Thayer School expanded its facilities again. This major expansion resulted in the new MacLean Engineering Sciences Center (ESC). Barry MacLean graduated from Dartmouth College in 1960 and Thayer School of Engineering Class of 1961. He is president and chief executive officer of MacLean-Fogg Company, a diversified company specializing in high-performance fastener and component manufacturing. He and his wife, Mary Ann, committed $15 million to name the new Center. The MacLean Engineering Sciences Center is designed to advance Thayer School's project-centered, interdisciplinary curriculum. Connected to Cummings Hall via a glass atrium, the building will showcase key elements of the collaborative approach to engineering education at Dartmouth. Unique features include integrated project labs, studio classrooms, multimedia computing systems, and next-generation research facilities. The Center includes a Unified Projects Laboratory featuring a novel and comprehensive student engineering design and project fabrication facility housed on one level and integrating into one universe all engineering project design, fabrication, and instructional laboratory facilities.

More history of the Thayer School and its curriculum can be found on their history Web page.

General Purpose

The collection supports the Thayer School faculty and students in their research and curriculum needs. Thayer School is advancing innovation in three focus areas, engineering in medicine, energy technologies and complex systems. Engineering in medicine addresses today's technology driven healthcare system. Energy technologies includes a range of projects from biomass processing to power electronics optimization. Complex systems include large complex engineered systems such as computer networks, social networks, smart robots, living cells, energy infrastructure, and the near earth space environment. In addition there are other programs at Dartmouth, including mathematics, physical sciences, environmental studies, computer sciences and the Medical School, whose students and faculty use the engineering collection on a regular basis.

Collection development emphasis is on acquiring current, not historical, literature in support of the current research and instructional needs of the faculty and students. This does not preclude the purchase of relevant literature in areas such as history of technology, for example. Subject strengths in the engineering collection include: biomedical engineering, chemical and biochemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, engineering physics, environmental engineering, materials engineering and mechanical systems engineering.

Dartmouth College Program

A statement by Ernest Martin Hopkins, Eleventh President of Dartmouth College, summarizes the philosophy of this unique engineering school. The policy of the Thayer School of Engineering is based on the belief that the purpose of an education is to give a person breadth and depth in his knowledge. Under this policy, the educated engineer must first of all have acquired the general culture which it is the purpose of a liberal arts college to give, and must then have superimposed on this specialized knowledge in the field of engineering, and factual information essential to the basic principles of engineering. The purpose of the Thayer School, thus, is to give to the college-educated person knowledge of the fundamental theory and practice of engineering, and at the same time to induce her to see a relationship of engineering to life as a whole.

The Thayer School of Engineering comprises both the Undergraduate Department of Engineering Sciences of Dartmouth College and a graduate professional school in engineering. Undergraduate programs emphasize interdisciplinary study in the engineering sciences within the context of a broad-based liberal arts education. At the graduate level, Thayer School offers degrees through the doctorate combining scholarship, research, experimentation, problem-solving, and design.

Dartmouth College offers two undergraduate programs through the Thayer School: a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree with a major in engineering sciences and a five year Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree. Sample fields of study in the engineering sciences program are bio/chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering with special interest in fluid and thermal sciences and mechanical systems. Most fields of study in the engineering sciences program combine knowledge and expertise from more than one specific discipline. All students must complete an honors thesis or a culminating experience, both requiring independent research. See Thayer's Undergraduate Studies Web pages for further information about the undergraduate curriculum.

The graduate programs include: a Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) degree, a Master of Science (M.S.) degree and a Doctor of Engineering (Ph.D.) degree. Thayer School offers the nation's first doctoral-level engineering Innovation Program. There are also three joint degree programs: the M.D./Ph.D. program in Biomedical Engineering between the Thayer School and the Dartmouth Medical School; the Ph.D. program combined with with the IGERT program in Polar Environmental Change; the M.E.M./M.B.A. program between the Thayer School and the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration. See Thayer's Graduate Studies Web pages for further information about the graduate curriculum.

General Subject Boundaries

The major holdings in Engineering are in LC classes T-TS. In addition, holdings fall in various Q classes (especially Q, QA, QC, QD and QH324) and R856-859 and R895-920. Feldberg, Kresge and the Biomedical libraries work cooperatively to collect in subject areas where there is some overlap. Examples of areas of overlap include: Applied Physics, Architecture, Biomedical Sciences, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, and Materials Science.


English is the primary language of the collection. Most of the non-English material is received as a gift.

Geographic Areas

Primary emphasis is on literature from English-speaking countries. No nations are specifically excluded but emphasis is on the United States, Western Europe, and Japan.

Types Of Material Collected

Feldberg collects monographs, serials, handbooks, encyclopedias, manuals, directories, standards and other standard reference works as well as Web databases. The types of materials collected has shifted to electronic resources, especially for periodicals and indexes. Dissertations produced at the Thayer School are comprehensively collected as well as are Honor Theses and B.E. Project Reports.

Format Of Materials Collected

No format is excluded. However, digital formats are given priority and comprise the majority of the journal collection.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

The Thayer Special collection, including Sylvanus Thayer's personal collection, of (now old and/or rare) engineering and related books are housed in the Rauner Special Collections Library.

Other Resources Available

The resource sharing services, DartDoc and Borrow Direct, greatly enhance access to materials outside of Dartmouth.

The Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab's (CRREL) literature resources in cold regions science and engineering supplement our own collection. CRREL offers their digital publications and reports which provide access to all of CRREL-authored publications.

Other Collection Policies Of Interest

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Sciences
  • Physics

Revision History

1983, Jim Fries

1993, Karen Sluzenski

1999, Janifer T. Holt

2006, Janifer T. Holt

2009, Janifer T. Holt and Mark Mounts

2016 Janifer T. Holt

LC Class

T-TS, Q (mostly Q, QA, QC, QD, QH324), R856-859, R895-920

Current Bibliographers

James R. Fries, Janifer T. Holt