skip to content

Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Links on this page lead mainly to relevant college/departmental websites or archive catalogue records on Janus (the University of Cambridge's archives catalogue). NB: this list is by no means exhaustive as an indication of Cambridge HPS-related holdings, and should be used simply as a starting point for further investigation.




Addenbrooke's NHS Trust Archives: Extensive history of medicine archival records dating back to 1711 relating to Addenbrooke's and other Cambridge hospitals. Further information via Janus.

Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology, Haddon Library: Historic collections of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Cambridge Antiquarian Society (books/journals collected since 1840s) as well as donations from eminent anthropologists incl. Sir James Frazer, James Hornell, Wynfrid Duckworth and William Rivers. Also holds offprints of Victorian archaeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers and libraries of prehistorians Charles McBurney and Grahame Clark. Books mainly searchable via Newton.

Institute of Astronomy: Printed books dating back to 1514, on astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and large 19th-cent. pamphlet/offprint collection. Former owners include John Couch Adams and George Biddell Airy, Royal Greenwich Observatory. Subscriptions to major astronomical journals. Collection of prints/photographs (observatories, astronomers, telescopes, astronomical images etc) listed and downloadable from Library webpages. Library also holds collection of instruments (lenses, mirrors, spectroscopes, micrometers etc) dating back to 19th cent. Books mostly searchable via Newton.


The Betty & Gordon Moore Library: Holds working collections in mathematics, physics, astronomy, computer science, materials science and engineering, as well as the former Central Science Library's monographic collections in biological, chemical, earth and environmental sciences. Also holds the library collections of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics and the Isaac Newton Institute.

Department of Biochemistry, Colman Library: Archives include books, ephemera, newspaper cuttings (1898–), photographs (1898–), biographical files. Departmental publications, include article off-prints (1906–) and Brighter Biochemistry, the illustrated journal of the Biochemical Laboratory, Cambridge (1923–1931). UL, Dept. of Manuscripts holds papers/correspondence of former departmental staff and other Cambridge Biochemists, including Malcolm Dixon, Kenneth Bailey, Robert Hill, A.C. Chibnall, Joseph Needham and Dorothy Needham.

Botanic Gardens, Cambridge: Cory Library comprises over 9000 volumes of horticultural works dating from the 17th cent. to present day, and is one of the best of its kind in the UK. Collections partially searchable via Newton.


Central Science Library: See The Betty & Gordon Moore Library Successor to Cambridge's first science library – the Cambridge Philosophical Society Library, est. early 1800s. Extensive journal back-files (many unique to Cambridge) acquired via legal deposit and Cambridge Phil Soc exchange programme. Substantial holdings from USSR and of European scientific societies journals (early 1800s–1900s). Journals searchable via Newton (no separate listing of Phil Soc journals). CSL's 19th & early 20th cent. books include Phil Soc Collection, Joseph Larmor bequest and other donations. Books mainly searchable via Newton except 'Henslow Room' books which have classmark sequence beginning 'Old'. Buttress Collection of Applied Biology (from the former Dept of Applied Biology) is nationally important as an archive relating to agriculture. CSL also holds the University's print collection of British and International Standards (issued by the British Standards Institute) and archival material relating to the Cambridge University Natural Sciences Club including its minute books (1872–1970).

Christ's College: Old Library holds unpublished letters by Darwin, books by and about Darwin, papers of Charles Lesingham Smith (1806–78), and books bequethed by him in 1878 on mathematics, astronomy and scientific subjects. Lessingham Smith books are searchable via Newton; other rare book collections are only partially catalogued. The College Archives also hold papers of Douglas Rayner Hartree (mathematical physicist), John Stevens Henslow (botanist), and Dr D.H.W. Dickson (C.P. Snow archive).

Churchill Archives Centre: Alongside the Winston Churchill Papers, the Churchill Archives include the papers of many important HPS-related figures of the Churchill era and after.

Classics Faculty Library: Leake Collection (notebooks of the journeys in Greece of Colonel Leake (1777–1860)), G.E.L. Owen Collection of books, pamphlets, offprints on Ancient Greek philosophy, and a classics-relevant collection of maps drawn up by the War Office in the 1940s of topographical use to archaeologists.


Darwin College: Holds first editions of Vesalius's 'Fabrica' (1543) and Spigelius's 'Opera' (1645), a Darwin and Evolution Collection, and the Finley Collection (4000 19th & 20th century books covering philosophical, political and social organisation of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds). Searchable via Newton.

Downing College: 500 vols on navigation and naval history from Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond (1871–1946). Not searchable via Newton.


Department of Earth Sciences: 900 rare books on geology and mineralogy, specialist pamphlet and offprint collections of Adam Sedgwick (1785–1873), O.M.B. Bulman, Thomas McKenny Hughes (1833–1917), N.F. Hughes, W.A. Macfadyen, M. Black, Harold Jeffreys (1891–1989), O. Fisher, Alfred Harker (1859–1939), Edward Crisp Bullard (1907–1980), H. Godwin, R.G. West and S. Agrell. Book collection partially searchable via Newton.


Department of Genetics Library: Extensive collection of books, some dating back to the 19th cent., reflecting the history of the study of genetics. The only library dedicated to the subject in Britain. Also holds extensive collection of genetics-related offprints, founded on collection initially amassed by R.C. Punnet (1875–1967), the first Balfour Professor of Genetics. This offprints collection is not searchable via Newton but can be accessed via a card catalogue. Further details. Book collection partially searchable via Newton.

Girton College: Collections include The Somerville Library (books covering science and mathematics formerly owned by Mary Somerville (1780–1872)): searchable via Girton College library catalogue.


Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Whipple Library: Robert Whipple foundation collection comprises ca. 1300 15th–20th cent. rare books on scientific instruments and history of science (strengths also include early astronomy, mathematics, and a Robert Boyle Collection). In addition, the library holds a Phrenology Collection, as well as the Gerd Buchdahl Collection (manuscripts/books on Kant, general philosophy and philosophy of science), Gerard Turner Collection of 19th–20th cent. microscopy books, large 19th Century Collection (covering biological sciences, chemistry, physics, natural science, medicine and popular science), and the Foster Pamphlet Collection on 19th cent. physiology. Books and pamphlets searchable via Newton.


Jesus College Old Library: Collections include mathematics/mathematical sciences, life sciences (voyages/travels), military subjects (see guide to Arte of Warre exhibition), and a Malthus Collection (searchable via Newton) comprising ca. 2000 vols assembled by Daniel Malthus (father of T.R. Malthus, 1766–1834). This gentleman's library comprises 18th/early 19th century books, with scientific subjects lightly represented (including set of the Bridgewater Treatises (1833–40), and two botanical volumes once owned and annotated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as Robert Malthus's own publications. Jesus' medieval manuscripts include some works on medicine and astronomy. Further information.


King's College: The John Maynard Keynes collection of rare books illustrating the history of European thought is especially strong in editions of Hume, Newton and Locke. There is also a Global Warming Collection, comprising a growing number of books on climate change and global warming. Books partly searchable via Newton. Keynes's collection of manuscripts by Newton, Bentham, John Stuart Mill, etc., are housed in the Modern Archive Centre along with personal papers of former College members, some HPS related, including those of Alan Turing.


Needham Research Institute: Papers of Joseph Needham (via Janus) and fellow historian of Chinese science Kenneth Robinson (via Janus). Also holds Needham's off-print collection covering such subjects as astronomy, alchemy and medicine.


Department of Physics, Rayleigh Library: Holds one of the nation's foremost physics collections, and contains archive material relating to the Department's illustrious history including manuscripts by James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879). The library also holds the Napier Shaw collection of books and periodicals on meteorology, and rare book collections relating to History of Science and Clerk Maxwell. Book collection partially searchable via Newton.

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience Library: Boyd Histological Collection (slides), which is also available online, and the Lovaton Veterinary Anatomy Library.

Department of Plant Sciences: Ca. 900 pre-1800 books transferred to the UL. Plant Sciences Library retains 19th & 20th century textbooks in botany, phytogeography, floras, applied botany, plant anatomy/physiology, algae, fungi, mosses, ferns, microbiology. Former owners include both staff members and other donors (e.g. Professor Albert Seward (1906–36), Francis Darwin (1848–1925)). Journals, some rare, date back to 19th century. Books and journals searchable via Newton. Archives include minutes of clubs, the departmental publication 'The Tea Phytologist', and items from former staff. See also National archives listing. Library also holds archive material belonging to the Cambridge University Herbarium of the Department of Plant Sciences (details of Herbarium specimens via Cornucopia).

Department of Psychology: MacCurdy Psychopathology Library and a list of special/rare books of particular interest.


Queens' College: Dating back to 1448, Old Library contains significant manuscript/rare book holdings. HPS-related collections include Isaac Milner bequest of 18th-cent. French mathematical works, Renaissance Humanist library of Thomas Smith (1513–77) and ca. 600 15th–18th cent. medical books in English, French or Latin. Few books catalogued on Newton. 1827 print catalogue available via Internet Archive, Volume I & Volume II.


Sidney Sussex College: College's scientific collections include Taylor Mathematical Library of 18th- and 19th-century books (largely housed in the Muniment Room). Books searchable via Newton.

Scott Polar Research Institute: Collections covering the scientific exploration of both polar regions. These include the Thomas H. Manning Polar Archives (searchable via the Archives Hub), and an extensive picture library. Their collections can be searched via SPRILIB, partly searchable via Newton.

St Catharine's College: Old library holds 164 volumes of medical works given in 1718 by John Addenbrooke (1680–1719). Collections also include books by, or about, Charles Darwin, given by former fellow Sydney Smith. Searchable via Newton.

St John's College: Extensive HPS-related holdings of rare books, medieval manuscripts and collections of personal papers, photographs and artefacts. Includes rare book collections formerly owned by John Collins (c.1567–1634 – medicine), James Wood (1760–1839 – mathematics as well as theology), Miles Bland (1786–1867 – mathematics), John Couch Adams (1819–1892 – astronomy and science), Isaac Todhunter (1820–1884 – mathematics), Joseph Larmor (1857–1942 – theoretical physics). Books searchable via Newton. Papers include John Couch Adams, Sir John Herschel, Sir Fred Hoyle.


Trinity College: The Wren Library houses extensive HPS-related rare books including books from the library of Sir Isaac Newton (see John Harrison, The Library of Isaac Newton, Cambridge University Press, 1978). Books searchable via Newton. The College also holds medieval manuscripts (searchable via its James Catalogue), many of which are available via the Wren Digital Library, and papers of many philosophers and scientists including William Whewell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.


University Library: The UL's extensive internationally important holdings comprise over 6 million volumes of printed books, and over 127,000 manuscripts and 860,000 microforms as well as periodicals. The Department of Manuscripts and University Archives is home to a wide range of material, including the manuscripts of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, George Stokes, J.J. Thomson, William Bateson and J.D. Bernal. The Library also preserves the papers of several of the major scientific institutions of Cambridge University and, currently, the papers of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. The UL is home to the largest single collection of Darwin’s manuscripts together with his own library of books and journals and is the base for UK staff of the Darwin Correspondence Project. The University Library also incorporates Cambridge Digital Library.


Whipple Library: See Department of History and Philosophy of Science.


Department of Zoology, Balfour & Newton Libraries: Extensive holdings in zoology dating from the 15th to 20th centuries (8,750 volumes, 100,000 reprints, over 530 theses, manuscripts, photographs, paintings). Further details via their website.