The NAHSTE Project: Navigational Aids for the History
of Science, Technology and the Environment
Edinburgh University Library
is leading a research project
In the first few months of the project, much time has been spent researching and creating collection-level cataloging entries for the archives named in the original proposal, so that they conform with the General International Standard of Archival Description ISAD(G). This process has unearthed a host of manuscript treasures, some of which are a "well-kept secret," particularly those from the period of the Enlightenment.
The papers of John Robison form one such collection. Robison was professor
of natural philosophy at Edinburgh University from 1774-1805. The University
Archive holds some 40 volumes of his lecture notes, which cover a broad
range of scientific subjects including mechanics, hydrodynamics, astronomy,
optics, electricity and magnetism. The intellectual developments that
took place during the Scottish Enlightenment are also documented
Early science teaching is represented by another impressive body of scientific
material, the papers of David Gregory, who was professor of mathematics
and astronomy at Edinburgh University from 1683-1691. Among the papers
are several manuscripts of his works, including Lectiones mechanicae sive
geometria de motu,1689-1690; Notae in Isaaci Newtoni principia philosophiae,
1693, and treatises on mathematics and astronomy, 1683-1694.
Scientific developments in the 20th century relating particularly to physics and astronomy are characterized by a set of compact disc recordings of interviews with the physicist and astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, which reveal his work on cosmic rays in 1930s with Patrick Blackett, and his invaluable research on radar during the second World War; and from the Archives of the University of Glasgow, the administrative, financial, staff and production records created by the company Barr and Stroud Ltd, Optical Instrument engineers.
Additional information on the project can be found on the Web at www.nahste.ac.uk
This photograph was taken from the David Gregory Collection. The original drawing was done by a student, Francis Pringle, in 1694, as part of a series of lecture notes that he took down at Oxford University (whilst Gregory held the Chair of Astronomy), and is taken from Gregory's work Geometria de Motu, relating specifically to mechanics. Photo courtesy of Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.