University of Kansas


Research university and medical center; history of science collections with strengths in ornithology, botany, taxonomy and medicine


Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS): The Kenneth Spencer Research Library's history of science collections excel in ornithology, botany and taxonomy. The library's holdings include:

  • Ralph Nicholson Ellis, Jr. Collection: A natural history collection consisting of some 15,000 bound volumes, as well as a large quantity of pamphlets, letters, original drawings, manuscripts, and other miscellanea. Approximately one third of the collection is devoted solely to ornithology, and it includes the largest extant collection of preparatory drawings and proofs for the 19th century British producer of bird volumes, John Gould. Another third includes voyages and travels (mainly scientific expeditions, often those reporting findings about birds), and the remainder is composed of natural history works in general.
  • Thomas Jefferson Fitzpatrick Botany Collection: A collection of 8000 volumes with a focus on early American science, particularly botany, and some notable European works.
  • Linnaeus Collection: a collection of over 2000 volumes of works by eighteenth-century taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus and items of Linnaeana, including the extremely rare first edition of Systema Naturae (1735).

Spencer Research Library's collections also include selected notable volumes from the broader field of the history of science. Examples of our miscellaneous scientific texts include Regiomontanus on Ptolemy's Almagest (1550), Boyle's Some Considerations Touching the Usefulness of Experimental Natural Philosophy (1664-1671), Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), Leeuwenhoek's Arcana Naturae Detectae (1695), Lavoisier's Opuscules physiques et chymiques (1774), Berzelius' De l'Emploi du chalumeau dans les analyses chimiques (1821), Maxwell's A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1873), Rutherford's Radio-Activity (1904), and Eiffel's La résistance de l'air et l'aviation (1910). Within the University Archives, the library also holds papers for prominent KU faculty members working in the sciences, including naturalist and taxidermist Lewis Lindsay Dyche (1857-1915) and chemistry professor E. H. S. Bailey (1848-1933). 
Kenneth Spencer Research Library collections
Clendening Library, University of Kansas Medical Center (Kansas City, KS): The Clendening Library holds around 45,000 volumes pertaining to the history of medicine and its allied sciences. The Library's rare books holdings document the history of medicine, mainly in Western Europe and Britain, from the 15th century to the present. The collections are especially strong in areas related to anatomy, pathology, and anesthesiology including early works by Andreas Vesalius (1514-64), William Harvey (1578-1657), and Georg Bartisch (1535-1607). Other strengths include resources in hematology, cardiology, electricity, Mesmerism, and microscopy. The Clendening has holdings of original letters from Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), Joseph Lister (1827-1912), and Clara Barton (1821-1912) among others. The University of Kansas Medical Center also boasts a rich archival collection that complements the Clendening's holdings. Of particular interest is the Spine and Orthopedic Historical Collections, which contain significant resources in the history of orthopedic surgery in the United States including papers and related resources pertaining to Paul Harrington (1911-80), Leonard Peltier (1920-2003), Walter Blount (1900-92), and Rex Diveley (1892-80).
Clendening Libary collections

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