| From Euclid to Newton: |
An Exhibition in Honor of the 1999 Conference of the
Mathematical Association of America
The Mathematics Collection is one of the oldest and most comprehensive resources of the Brown University Library system. Its roots are found in the Williams Table Collection - the original pre-Revolutionary War Library - whose highspots include Keckermann's Systema compendiosum totius mathematices (1617), Galileo's Discorsi e dimonstrazioni mathematiche (1638), Leybourn's Mathematical institutions (1704), Kersey's Elements of ... Algebra (1710), two editions of Euclid's Elements (1715, 1732), Rohault's System of natural philosophy (1728-29) and Ferguson's An easy ... introduction to Sir Isaac Newton's philosophy (1772). In 1783, when the College reassembled after the war, compentency in the rules of "Vulgar Arithmetic" was required of all applicants for admission, and, by 1820, potential Freshmen were required to know "Colburn's Algebra, as far as Quadratick Equations."
During Asa Meser's term as librarian (1792-1799), the College acquired its first issues of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. This set is complete from 1667-1886 in the John Hay Library; later issues are in the Sciences Library. Messer who became Brown's third president (1802-1826), continued to teach and expand the library during his term of office. Throughout the 19th century, the mathematics collection grew under the guidance of professors Alva Woods (1824-28), Alexis Caswell (1828-63), Samuel Stillman Greene (1855-1863), Nathaniel French Davis (1870-1915) and Henry Parker Manning (1893-1930).
In the early 20th century Roland G.D. Richardson (1907-1942), and Raymond Clare Archibald (1907-1943), took active roles in developing the curricula, the Department of Mathematics and the library's collections. Archibald expanded the holdings of learned society and academic journals and accumulated a fine collection of doctoral dissertations from leading American and European universities. In the decade immediately prior to WWII, Richardson was instrumental in bringing refugee scholars to Brown, chief among them being Hans Lewy, George Polya, Otto Szasz, Jacob Tamarkin and Otto Neugebauer. The latter two were the first editors of Mathematical Reviews, an international journal of mathematical abstracts, established at Brown by the American Mathematical Society in 1939. C. Raymond Adams followed Richardson as chairman of the Department (1942- 1960). It was during his term that Bjarni Jonsson, Herbert Federer, Frank M. Stewart and E. H. Lee joined the facullty. After Adams, succeeding chairmen have been: David Gale, Wendell H. Fleming, Bruno Harris, John Wermer, Allan H. Clark, Robert D. Accola, Jonathan D. Lubin, Andrew Browder, Thomas F. Banchoff, William Fulton, Michael Rosen, Walter A. Strauss and, the present incumbent, Walter Craig.
This exhibition was selected from among the over fifteen hundred pre-1700 astronomical and mathematical works that are in Special Collections. It is arranged in approximate chronological sequence by author rather than by date of publication, beginning with Euclid, and concluding with Newton.
Library Senior Bibliographer
The John Hay Library
Note: It is planned that this online exhibition will be enhanced with images from the works originally exhibited in 1999. Thus we have left the text indicating that page to which each volume was opened when it was exhibited.
Illustration: Euclid (ca. 326-ca. 265 BC) Preclarissimus liber elementorum Euclidis perspicacissimi: in artem geometrie incipit ...
Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, [25 May] 1482.
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