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History of Science and Technology

The History of Science
and Technology Program

Online guide
Faculty papers
Manuscript collections
Book collections
Oral histories

Online guide

Northern California is richly endowed with natural resources, material wealth, and a culture that fosters scientific discovery and technological innovation. It is also blessed with distinguished institutions of research and higher education, whose libraries and archives contain extensive collections of primary and secondary resources. First in importance among these are the primary resources - archives and manuscripts - including personal papers, corporate records, oral histories, and pictorial images in a variety of formats including print, holograph, aural and video recordings, and multi-media. These collections, documenting the region's natural history and its citizen's scientific and technological achievements, are invaluable resources to scholars researching historical, social, legal, economic, and policy aspects of California and the West.

The History of Science and Technology Sources provides access to records of cataloged archives and manuscripts in appropriate University collections. It also complements local online and print catalogs which include the Library's book, serial, and other secondary sources.

View this online guide:

History of Science and Technology Sources

Faculty papers

With the establishment in 1972 of the History of Science and Technology Program, The Bancroft Library increased its role in acquiring Berkeley faculty papers in the fields of science and engineering. At present the collections number close to 200, ranging in size from a single portfolio to more than 200 cartons each. The collections cover all fields of science (including physical, mathematical, earth, life, human sciences) and engineering, including applications of science and issues of science, technology, and the public interest. Special attention has been given to Berkeley's Nobel laureates.

Special attention has been given to the development of the Radiation Laboratory (now the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory). The collections are connected to teaching and research in science and technology at the University of California, Berkeley, although they often range far afield because of the careers of the faculty included. The chronological focus is primarily 20th century, although the last third of the 19th century is reflected in some of the older collections.

The papers are primarily in English, although the international character of modern science and technology is reflected in correspondence and documents in other (mainly European) languages. The primary formats represented in the collection of faculty papers include manuscript materials (writings, correspondence, course materials, records of university departments or other units; records of professional organizations; grant proposals, reports, and related materials; other subject and research files, notebooks; computer output and other forms of recorded data; reprints; pictorial materials; audio and videotapes, films).

Excluded are papers of staff scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory or Lawrence Livermore Laboratory without appointments in teaching/research units on the Berkeley campus.

Manuscript collections (non-faculty papers)

More than 250 collections ranging in size from 1 portfolio to 200+ cartons, with special emphasis on early modern European and American science and technology, especially of the 18th century. Three reasonably strong 18th-century collections are the papers of Rudjer Boscovich, Pierre-Simon Laplace, and the Accademia del Cimento. Also well representated are science and technology in California and the American West, radio and electronics (especially in the San Francisco Bay Area), development of the Radiation Laboratory (now Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), and Nobel laureates with at least a tangential connection to California.

Book collections

The collection of printed books and manuscripts complements the general coverage indicated earlier for manuscript holdings. Special strengths in early modern natural philosophy and mathematics (including textbooks), early modern electricity, publications of scientific academies and societies.

Oral histories

The History of Science and Technology Program completed interviews with sixty-eight persons prominently connected with the development of radio and electronics, especially in the Bay Area, development of the Radiation Laboratory (now the Berkeley Lawrence Laboratory), as well as individuals involved in physics, chemistry, medical physics, virology, technological innovation, operations research, and aeronautics. In addition to the bound, edited interview transcripts, the collection includes many of the tape-recorded interviews, and, in some cases, related manuscript materials.

For more information on The Bancroft Library's oral history program, see the The Oral History Center.

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