Some Early Tools of American Science: An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University

Some Early Tools of American Science: An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University

Some Early Tools of American Science: An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University

Some Early Tools of American Science: An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University

Excerpt

The occasion for the present book was an exhibition of old scientific instruments and mineralogical and biological specimens at Harvard University, mounted on February 12, 1949 in the main lobby of the Edward Mallinckrodt Chemical Laboratory on Oxford Street, Cambridge. On pages 152-71 there will be found an illustrated catalogue of this exhibition, comprising a select number of Harvard's holdings from the period beginning 1764 (the year of the Fire in which practically all the then existing scientific instruments were destroyed) and ending somewhere about 1825. In the exhibition, the greater part of the instruments for use in astronomy and physics come from the 18th century, as do the microscopes, the mineralogical specimens, and the fishes, while the chemical equipment dates from the early years of the 19th century.

This book was prepared as a commemorative volume for the exhibition, but in giving the background of the instruments -- the way in which they were obtained, their use in teaching and research, and their preservation -- I have found it necessary to sketch in certain aspects of the history of science at Harvard. The opening chapter delineates the nature of the book and some of the history of science at Harvard which will, I hope, prove valuable to students of American cultural history -- a field which has embraced almost all aspects of American culture, but in which studies of American science have been conspicuously absent.

At the end of the book, I have included a bibliographical note discussing the sources I have used and an explanation of the method of citation.

I should like to acknowledge here my special indebtedness to Mr. Clifford K. Shipton, Custodian of the Harvard University Archives, who has been my mentor and guide throughout every stage of the preparation of this book, and to Mr. Samuel Eliot Morison who, during a busy period of teaching and writing his History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, has generously given me more of his time than I had the right to call upon.

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