Visualizing the Anatomy of the Eye

As a historian of science, I’m fascinated with pictures that help make sense of past scientific ideas and practices. The Huntington’s vast collection of rare 16th-century science books document how intellectuals of the day perceived the eye and the process of sight. Chief among these works is the groundbreaking anatomy … Continue reading

LISTEN>> Caring for a Collection

In a suite of audio posts, visiting journalist Corinne DeWitt heads into our three collecting areas—Library, Art, and Botanical—and meets up with staff to explore facets of the vast collections that are the core of The Huntington. This time around: Library. [espro-slider id=16601]   CORINNE DEWITT: Today we’re leafing through … Continue reading

Women Computing the Stars

A piece of women’s history lies deep in the underground stacks of the Huntington Library, among the papers of American astronomer Frederick Hanley Seares (1873–1964). Seares was the head of the computing division at the Pasadena office of the Mount Wilson Observatory from 1909 to 1940. His correspondence gives us a … Continue reading

Conserving a Classic Book on Sunspots

On my last day as the Dibner Conservator for the History of Science collection at The Huntington, I want to share one of the more interesting and complex conservation treatments I’ve completed here—rebinding George Ellery Hale’s copy of Rosa Ursina sive Sol. Christoph Scheiner, a German Jesuit renowned for his … Continue reading

Sir Isaac Newton, Alchemist?

Is it possible that the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest theorists in the history of science, practiced alchemy? That a giant of the scientific revolution shared a dream common among charlatans of his age—to turn lead into gold? William R. Newman, professor of history … Continue reading

Newton’s Lost Copy of Mede, Revealed

The Huntington’s library collection comprises nearly 9 million manuscripts, books, photographs and other works in such fields as American and British history, literature, art, and the history of science. Because of the sheer volume of materials—with each item having to be analyzed by hand and carefully studied—it’s possible for things … Continue reading

“Several kinds of hairy mouldy spots”

The book had a sheepskin cover, and mold was growing on the sheepskin. Robert Hooke, a pioneering microbiologist, slid the cover under one of the world’s first microscopes. Mold, he discovered, consists of “nothing else but several kinds of small and variously figur’d Mushroms.” He described the mushrooms in his … Continue reading