Schoenberg and Albert Collections of Manuscripts donated to the University of Pennsylvania

Two collections containing important materials relating to the history of science, technology, and medicine were recently donated to the University of Pennsylvania. The first, the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Manuscripts, focuses on medieval and renaissance works. The second, given by Dr. Daniel and Eleanor Albert, includes a noteworthy medical ephemera collection. The Schoenberg Collection, with over three hundred early manuscripts, comprises a significant gift to the Penn Libraries, and to scholars worldwide, with its wealth of theoretical and practical treatises in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and medicine. The collection, according to its collector, “reflects the transformation of man’s knowledge about the world around him from simple observations to recognition, to documenting and analysis, and then to the application and interpretation of that learning.” In documenting the transmission of knowledge, it holds works of philosophers and scientists active in pre-modern Europe, Africa, and Asia. These works are written in a host of languages, including, in addition to many in Greek, Latin, and the European vernaculars, a large number in Arabic, as well as examples in Hebrew, Persian, and Coptic. An exhibition of works from the Schoenberg Collection, “A Legacy Inscribed: The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Manuscripts” is on display through August 16, 2013 in the Goldstein Family Gallery, the new exhibition gallery in the recently opened Special Collections Center on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. The collection can be browsed on the Penn in Hand website: ( It contains cataloging records for each item as well as digitized versions of over half the manuscripts. Over time the entire collection will be fully digitized and made available to the public. Another significant donation to the Penn Library is the collection of Dr. Daniel and Eleanor Albert. A Penn Medical School graduate (1962) and student of noted eye specialist, Dr. Harold Scheie, Dr. Dan Albert is faculty member and former Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Founding Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute. The three components of the Albert Collection are rare books, ephemera, and medical instruments. The books, dating from 1489 through 1692, include five incunables, two being Maimonides Aphorismi (1489) and Mesue's Opera medicinalia (1495), as well as Bartisch's rare Opthalmoduleia (1538). Dr. Albert amassed a significant collection of medical ephemera with the emphasis on the unusual, methodically acquiring broadsides, pamphlets, posters, ledgers and correspondence documenting medical life in 19th-century Pennsylvania, New England, and Wisconsin. Among the medical instruments in the collection are 103 19th-century ophthalmoscopes manufactured primarily in France and Germany, many of which will be on permanent exhibition at the Scheie Eye Institute. Among other recent acquisitions are a number of interesting works on chemistry and alchemy for the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the History of Chemistry including Youmans’ Chemical Atlas (1857), a pioneering publication in the use of color to convey quantitative information. Finally, Penn acquired the first edition of Ebert’s Naturlehre für die Jugend (1776-1778), a three-volume Enlightenment encyclopedia for the young covering all aspects of natural history.