Have you ever thought about how all the technical, scientific and medical knowledge that exists actually came about and who the ‘bright sparks’ were who started it all?

Black and white illustrations of a man wearing a shirt, best and boe tiw doing various experiments with electric currents.
Some experiments with electric currents; IAN01/07/96/13

Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Science, Technology and Medicine is part of the Gale Primary Sources database. It is made up of 2 parts, which together cover the period 1780-1925, a timespan which is considered to be the most vibrant era in the evolution of science across its many fields.

The collection makes the information of millions of pages of research papers, journals, books and reports from internationally renowned research institutions available to users who would normally not have access to these historical records without travel. 

The subject fields are listed under broad collection names in each part.

Part I (1780-1925)

There is a preliminary opening summary which gives a substantial resume of the documents covered in Part I of the archive. It gives a broad overview of the evolution of the field, acknowledging the work and contribution of the scientists who were instrumental in the development of many of the subject areas. The archive is based on the holdings of the Huntington Library in California – an internationally renowned research institute.

This Part I has 10 collections listed. Some of the collection names are listed below:

  • American Medical Periodicals
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electricity and Electromagnetism
  • Evolution and the Origin of the Species
  • Mathematics

From this page people can either choose to search the topic or to look at all the documents in the field.  Some headings, like the first one, ‘American Medical Periodicals’, when ‘clicked’ provide a massive listing of periodicals from the 19th century in the subject field.

Part II (1780-1925)

In this Part II of the Science, Technology and Medicine archives there are a few million pages of scientific material from the late 17th century through to early 20th century. This part is divided into four major collections:

  • Academies of Science Publications
  • Entomology
  • Natural History
  • The Rise of Public Health in England and Wales

The thousands of digitised volumes included in these collections give a broad and informed insight into the development and evolution of modern science and its methods through the centuries. As such, the collections provide the writings of every major scientist who contributed to the development of their subject field. 

Of special note is the ‘Academies of Science Publications’ collection, which covers the period 1665 to 1925, and reflects the work of various national organisations, such as the Royal Society of London, as well as their contemporary French, German, and Swedish counterparts and later the American Association for the Advancement of Science. These were the first major research centres of the times, developing and promoting scientific knowledge.

Interestingly, in 1665 the Royal Society of London began publishing its Philosophical Transactions – making it the oldest continuous scientific journal still being published. 

Not unexpectedly, the writings of many well-known major scientists, including Charles Babbage, William Ramsey, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Alexander Volta and many many more are mentioned.

Taken altogether the ‘Academies of Science Publications’ comprehensively cover scientific research from the late 17th century through to the early 20th century.

More to explore

Find more databases on the theme of science and technology via the A-Z databases page.

Explore the other Nineteenth Century Collections Online available through the Gale Primary Sources database.

Read some of our science and technology related blogs:

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