The History of Science Collections
Many of the rare books acquired by Texas A&M, even preceding the establishment of a special collections, were centered on the history of science, particularly herbals and herbaria. Though acquired piecemeal, this collection became one of the cornerstones of the Cushing Library collections. A related and extensive nautical archaeology collection includes 1,000 volumes of rare and scarce books and journals about the sea, ships and shipbuilding, exploration, navigation, naval architecture, and related subjects.
Sample highlights of the collection:
Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566). New kreuterbuch. Basel: Michael Isengrin, 1543. This herbal by one of the founders of modern botany contains 512 full-page woodcuts, as well as woodcut portraits of the author, illustrators, and blockcutter.
John Gerard (1545-1612). The Herball, or, General Historie of Plants. London: J. Islip, J. Norton and R. Whitakers, 1636. The expanded “Johnson’s” edition of Gerard’s herbal became famous for its detail, its observations (including non-scientific information, such as folklore), and its lively prose.
Denis Diderot. Encylopédie. 1751-72. 17 volumes of text and 11 volumes of plates. This central text of enlightenment thought represented Diderot’s attempt to encompass all human knowledge by “examining, debating, and investigating” all things.
Russell J. Scott. The Modern System of Naval Architecture. London: Day, 1865. A guide by one of the most important engineers of the nineteenth century, who developed the wave-line system of ship construction.
The Ludy Benjamin Archive of Sanatorium, Asylum, and Hospital Records. Records and documents concerning mental health care in the northeastern United States, predominately from the mid-nineteenth century to the twentieth century.
[image collections: Fuchs portrait and plant woodcuts; Diderot planche]