Library and archives

The Museum has always collected books and archival material related to the history of science and scientific instruments. The founding benefactor Lewis Evans included a library of rare books, a collection of manuscripts, and even a small group of printed ephemera with his original gift in 1924, hoping to create a comprehensive resource for the display and study of historic scientific instruments. The Museum built upon this idea, resulting in a rich and varied collection of library-type materials.

The core library collection – printed books, pamphlets, and periodicals – now numbers some 20,000 items, dating from 1476 to the present. Details can be found in the online library catalogue, with the books also catalogued on Oxford University’s union catalogue SOLO. The founder’s library contains many of our rare old books, bindings, pamphlets, printed ephemera as well as some runs of old scientific periodicals. We also hold modern reference works, monographs, and offprints of articles, chiefly on the history of scientific instruments.

The Museum’s other paper-based collections include paper instruments, prints, photographs, manuscripts, and documentation about our objects. Prints and photographs are catalogued on the Museum’s main objects database. Manuscripts and mixed archival collections are outlined in a summary list, with more information available on request.