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History of Science

The history of the biological and physical sciences is strongly represented in landmark editions of works by Newton, Galileo, Darwin, Hooke, Leeuwenhoek, Linnaeus, Jussieu, Gessner, and Audubon, among many others.  The collection also includes anatomical works by Vesalius, Harvey, and Fabricius, as well as Renaissance medical herbals, including, Fuchs’ De Historia Stirpium(1542); Hortus Sanitatis (1517); Mattioli’s De Materia Medica (1583); and numerous other beautifully illustrated botanical works.  Special Collections also holds numerous 18th-century scientific periodicals, including long runs of Memoires of the French Academie des sciences and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

These works complement the University of Missouri’s emphasis on the life sciences, support interdisciplinary research, and provide an important access point for the study of intellectual history and scientific inquiry.

How to Use the Collection

With a few exceptions, the collections can be accessed and requested through the library catalog. Finding aids for individual collections are linked on this website. Materials are available for use in the Special Collections Reading Room (room 401) during regular hours. Materials do not circulate. 

Finding Aids for History of Science

Donald Silver Rare Book Room, J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library


The Rare Book Room was given to the library by the Department of Surgery and is dedicated to Dr. Donald Silver, an Emeritus professor of the…

Gary E. and Janet J. Venable Antiquarian Atlas & Map Collection


The Venable Collection documents the history of cartography, geography, and exploration from the sixteenth through the early twentieth century.…

Historic Textbook Collection.


Scope and Contents The books are useful today as a survey of pedagogical methods and contents as well as a portrayal of the American popular mind of…

Rare Books


The Rare Books Collection is the default designation for materials in Special Collections that are acquired as individual items. Like Special…

Related Exhibits

150 Years of On the Origin of Species


150 Years of The Origin of Species: The Historical Journey from Specimens to Species to Geneswas a physical exhibit mounted...

Anatomical Illustration


The 6th annualMU Life Sciences and Society Symposium (March 2010)took as its theme, From Art to Biology and Back Again....

Controlling Heredity


This virtual exhibit explores the intersections between ethics and the pseudo-science of eugenics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth...

Food Revolutions: Science and Nutrition, 1700-1950


This exhibition was originally mounted in the Ellis Library Colonnade during March 2012 as part ofFood Sense: The 8th AnnualLife...



Although the scientific study of epigenetics only dates to the middle of the twentieth century, scientists have puzzled over related...

In-Flew-Enza: Spanish Flu in Columbia


In fall, 1918, an outbreak of epidemic influenza spread across the entire world. Erroneously dubbed "the Spanish Flu," the pandemic...

Leaders and Heroes

Henson Portrait Bust.jpg

Every age, every race, has its leaders and heroes. ~ Ohíye S’a (Charles A. Eastman) Libraries tend to hold those materials that...

No Bones About It: An exhibit of spooky skeletons


On October 24, 2023, Special Collections held a spooky exhibit! From 11am until 2pm, we were in Ellis 114a with...

Science of Love


This exhibit presents the many faces of love as they appear in the literature of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and...

Vesalius at 500


Vesalius at 500 showcases materials from the Libraries’ collections that helped to shape Andreas Vesalius’ career, including medieval manuscripts and...

Selected Items

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