Natural history, geology, volcanology.
Over 900 volumes.
Scope and content
A collection of books on volcanology, many of which are extremely scarce and not held by the British Library. There are over 900 volumes, plus offprints and periodicals; 129 volumes date from before 1700. The majority are concerned with Italian volcanoes and geology, particularly Vesuvius and Etna. The earliest works are by Censorinus, De die natali (1503), Beroaldus, Opusculum de terremotu et pestilentia (1505) and Elisius, De balneis (c.1510). There are several descriptions of Naples, Pozzuoli and the surrounding area, the earliest dating from 1538. No less than 44 books dated between 1632-35 deal with the eruption of Vesuvius in December 1631, the first serious eruption since AD 79.
Collected and bequeathed in 1914 by the volcanologist and physician Henry James Johnston Lavis (1856-1914).
Finding aids and published descriptions
W.L. Kirk, R. Sidall, and S. Stead, ‘The Johnston Lavis Collection: A Unique Record of Italian Volcanism’, in W.J. McGuire et al. (eds), The Archaeology of Geological Catastrophes (London: Geological Society, 2000).
The collection is fully catalogued. To browse the records, conduct a shelfmark search for JOHNSTON LAVIS on Explore.
Image: Giovanni Domenico Armini, De terremotibus et incendiis eorumque causis, et signis naturalibus, & supernaturalibus. Item de flagratione Vesuvii eiusque mirabilibus eventis, & auspiciis (STRONG ROOM JOHNSTON LAVIS 1632 R2/1-20)