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Rare Books

Purposeful attention to the development of a rare book collection began in the 1950s, when library director Dorothy M. Crosland acquired a copy of the first edition of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (London, 1687), providing the cornerstone for a strong collection in the history of science and technology, with special strength in Newtoniana. The library owns a copy of each of the first three editions of the Principia Mathematica (1687, 1713, and 1726), all published during Newton 's lifetime. Early editions of other works by Newton have been acquired, most notably the first edition of Opticks: or A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light (London, 1704) and the first English edition of Universal Arithmetick, or, A Treatise of Arithmetical Composition and Resolution (London, 1720). Other Newtoniana include works by such contemporaries of Newton as John Keill, Henry Pemberton, and Colin MacLaurin.

One of the library's most beautiful treasures is the nine-volume Dutch language edition of Joan Blaeu's Grooten Atlas (or Grand Atlas) , published in the 1660s at the zenith of seventeenth century Dutch cartography. The most sumptuous publication of the century, the Grooten Atlas features hundreds of beautiful hand-colored maps and detailed text. Acquired in 1965 as a memorial to Mary Howard Gilbert, this atlas never ceases to delight and fascinate library visitors.

Other collecting areas include mathematics, particularly probability, sciences, technology and architecture.

Mathematics & Probability:

  • Thomas Gataker's Of the Nature and Use of Lots (1619)
  • Jakob Bernoulli's Ars Conjectandi (1713)
  • Christiaan Huygens' Libellus de Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae (1714)
  • Abraham de Moivre's The Doctrine of Chances (1 st and 2 nd editions, 1718 and 1738)
  • Additional works by Arnauld, Fermat, Pascal, van Schooten, Simpson, de Moivre, Laplace, Montmort, Poisson, Quetelet, Bertrand, Pearson, De Morgan, Condorcet, and others
  • Representative of other mathematical specialties are works by Euler, Gauss, several of the Bernoullis, Kircher, L'Hospital, Cauchy, Hutton, Lagrange, Lacroix, Leibniz, Wallis, Agnesi, Raphson, Waugh, Cousin, Woodhouse, Boole, Whewell, Mach, Emerson


  • Descartes, Ferguson, Herschel, Gleichen-Russwurm, Gravesande, Lord Kelvin, Einstein, Flammarion, E. E. Barnard, Faraday, Fittig, Berthelot, Carnot, Darwin, Liebig, and Agassiz


  • Jacques Besson's Il Theatro de gl'Instrumenti & Machine (1582)
  • Venterus Mandey's Mechanick-powers, The Mistery of Nature and Art Unvail'd. (1696?)
  • Carl Christian Schramm's Historischer Schauplatz (1735), containing many engravings of early bridges
  • Charles Babbage's On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832), acquired in 1985 as the library's two millionth volume
  • Extensive nineteenth century technology works by Eiffel, Langley , Diesel, Dumas, Knapp, Gantt
  • Journal fuer Fabriken, Manufakturen, Handlung, Kunst und Mode, published in Leipzig from 1791-1808, a thirty-five volume set with each containing swatches of contemporary fabrics


The Architecture Library has approximately 1000 rare books and serials relating to art and architecture, housed in the Rare Book Room. The collection is known for its unique and valuable European and American journals from the art nouveau and arts and crafts movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other highlights include rare editions of classic architectural texts by Sebastiano Serlio, Andrea Palladio, Leon Battista Alberti, and Asher Benjamin.

Named Collections

Laura Hammond and Julius L. Brown Collections - Two eclectic mixes of 19 th and early 20 th century textbooks on a wide variety of subjects.

Louis B. Magid Collection - Nineteenth and early 20 th century American and European books and pamphlets on sericulture

Melvin Kranzberg Collection on the history of technology. Volumes signed by authors are housed in the Neely Gallery.

George F. Walker Collection on Marcel Proust

Edwin B. Feldman Collection - Extensive works by and about H. G. Wells, Nicholas Monsarrat, C. S. Forester, and Nevil Shute, historical figure Lord Nelson, and literary character Horatio Hornblower.

Irving (Bud) Foote Collection - Extensive science fiction collection, augmented by donations from Dr. Patrick Malone and author David Brin.

Digital Access to the Collections

The Georgia Tech Library's progressive digitizing projects enable individuals to view rare books and other Special Collections materials online. As an enhancement to E. E. Barnard's Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, the Library will maintains this important atlas digitally. The Library also offers a digital version of the eighteenth century work entitled An Illustration and Mensuration of Solid Geometry (3 rd ed., 1787) by John Lodge Cowley.

Using Rare Books

Individuals may examine rare books by appointment in the Archives Reading Room in the Library Annex and professors are encouraged to bring classes to the Neely Room to view rare books. Prior arrangements must be made by contacting the Archives.