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Rare Science Periodicals

Over 700 titles

The Rare Science Periodicals collection comprises more than 700 titles in twelve European languages. The periodicals, all of which are published before 1900, are a vivid record of the developments and achievements of the national and international scientific communities from the late seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth, and are likely to be of interest to the specialist and layperson alike.

The collection includes the first two learned journals to be published. The first of these, the Journal des scrivans, was published by Denis de Sallo in Paris on 5th January 1665, and included scientific subjects in its scope. The second, the Philosophical transactions, was launched in March 1665 and concentrated more specifically on scientific subjects (or "natural philosophy" as it was then called), although many articles in its earlier editions addressed subjects that we would not consider to be scientific today. For example number 5 contained an article entitled Observables upon a monstrous head and number 21 an article entitled An extract of a letter from Rome, rectifying the relation of salamanders living in fire.

Following the establishment of these two titles learned journals were soon published in many other European countries. One example is the Miscellanea curiosa medico-physica ... (Germany, 1670), which can be found in the collection.

It was not until the eighteenth century that publication in a scientific journal became the recognised manner of communicating the results of an experiment or announcing a discovery to the scientific community. This is also when the first journals concentrating on particular scientific disciplines came to be founded, and there are many examples of such specialist journals in the collection, including: Journal de physique, published in 1773, the Journal der Physik, published in 1790, and the Archiv für die Physiologie, published in 1795.

Many of the transactions and proceedings chart the history not only of prominent national organisations such as the Zoological and Linnean Societies, but also of the numerous local natural history groups which, by placing increasing importance on collecting data based on observation and experiment, made a major contribution to scientific progress. Their activities are recorded in publications such as the Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society and the Transactions of the Watford Natural History Society and Hertfordshire Field Club.

Other highlights of the collection include almanacs and diaries, natural history journals with beautifully engraved coloured prints and the earliest issue of The Lancet. The collection of international journals - including those published in Europe, the United States and India - is also very impressive and wide-ranging in its subject coverage.

Journals published before 1850 are located at the Hampstead Road site and those published between 1850 and 1900 are at the College's Wickford site (Stores).

Items in this collection can be located in Explore