Leeds University Library

History of the philosophy of science and medicine

Early science

The Brotherton Collection contains some 480 printed books, dating from 1600 to 1750, covering a wide variety of scientific subjects. Chemistry, physics and astronomy are strongly represented, but the collection also contains works on magnetism, monsters and melancholy. In addition to Newton's Principia we have the first edition of his Opticks (1704). We also hold William Gilbert's De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus (1600), the first work to demonstrate a scientific understanding of magnetism and electricity.

The All Souls Science Collection contains around 500 books and journals, principally from the 17th century, covering many different aspects of science. The main subjects include astronomy, botany, geometry, mathematics, medicine, chemistry and physiology. There are also early works on types of medical therapy, such as hydrotherapy and wine therapy, and works on poisons, anatomy, and communication for the deaf.

The Chaston Chapman Collection consists mainly of sets of the Royal Society of London's philosophical transactions, from the founding of the society in the 1660s onwards, along with some later histories and memoirs of the society. There are also early texts on alchemy such as Roger Bacon's The Mirror of Alchimy (1597) and Dutch and German works on chemical lore, hermetic philosophy, astrology and religion.

The Early Science Collection contains around 2,000 books dating from the 16th century onwards, ranging from general works to occultism, inventions, beer and horses. The periodicals held within this collection include copies of Memoirs of Science and the Arts, Scientific Memoirs and Communications to the Board of Agriculture, all dating from the late 18th century.