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Durham University

Libraries and Special Collections in County Durham

Science and Mathematics

From medieval medicine to the works of Charles Darwin, the research collections in the region of Durham have inimitable potential for the study of science and mathematics.



Medieval science and medicine

Material relating to medieval science and medicine can be found in the Cosin Manuscripts, held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, and the Durham Cathedral Library.

Highlights of the Durham Cathedral Library include Laurence of Durham's Hypognosticon and Hunter 100, a manuscript dating from 1130 which includes medieval medical drawings.


Early modern science and medicine

Early modern science and medicine are well-represented in research collections throughout the region of Durham. 

The Durham University Archives and Special Collections are particularly well-endowed with material relating to early modern science and medicine. 

The Kellett CollectionKellett Papers, and Kellett Slides relate to European medicine of the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly developments in anatomical teaching and illustration in France and Italy, whilst the Elliott Collection contains a number of early modern scientific works including Leonard Digges' A Geometrical Practise, named Pantometria (1571) and the first edition of Robert Hooke's Micrographia (1665). 

Other relevant collections include the Bamburgh LibraryBishop Cosin’s Library, the History of Science Printed Collection, the Wilson Collection, the Howard Library Manuscripts and the Robin Dix Akenside Collection

Additional material relating to early modern science and medicine can be found in the Durham Cathedral Library and Ushaw College, which boasts a collection of 8,000 rare philosophical, mathematical and scientific books.


Modern science and medicine 

A substantial volume of literature relating to modern science and medicine can be found in the Durham University Archives and Special Collections.

One collection of particular importance is the Sudan Archive, which contains a number of records relating to medical practices in the Sudan. Relevant collections include Simons, J. A.Wolff, M. E. and G. L.Bloss, J. F. E.Christopherson, J. B.Farrell, H. B. McDHills-Young, Miss E. and Jane, E.

Other relevant collections include the Cromer Papers, the Sergeant Papers and the Charles Whitley Correspondence. The latter sheds light on Whitley's scientific interests and his friendships with leading figures in the contemporary scientific world, among them Charles Darwin, William Whewell (1794-1866), William Hopkins (1793-1866) and J.S. Henslow (1796-1861).

Ushaw College also boasts a significant amount of material relating to modern science including a first edition of Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859). The presence of this work in a Catholic seminary demonstrates the importance of nineteenth-century scientific advances.


Mathematics

The research collections in the region of Durham contain a vast range of material relating to the study of mathematics. 

One collection of particular importance is the History of Science Printed Collection, held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, which includes the works of Sir Isaac Newton, William Emerson and Thomas Wright. 

Other relevant collections held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections include the Oriental ManuscriptsThomas Wrightiana, the Thomas Wright Manuscripts and the Charles Whitley Correspondence

Material relating to mathematics can also be found in the Durham Cathedral Library and Ushaw College, which boasts a collection of 8,000 rare philosophical, mathematical and scientific books.


Astronomy and astrology

Material relating to astronomy and astrology can be found in research collections throughout the region of Durham. 

The Durham University Observatory Records, held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections, comprise astronomical records, meteorological papers and seismograph readings whilst the Thomas Wright Manuscripts include cosmological, astronomical and meteorological drafts and notes, most, but not all of which are in the hand of Thomas Wright, a County Durham astronomer, architect and antiquary. 

Other relevant collections held by Durham University Archives and Special Collections include the Howard Library Manuscripts, the Oriental Manuscripts and Thomas Wrightiana.

Ushaw College also possesses material relating to the study of astronomy and astrology, including works by Galileo and an eighteenth-century orrery, used as a teaching aid at Lisbon College.