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The History of Science

The History of Science

The History of Science at the National Library

Behind every scientific discovery, development, breakthrough and accumulation of knowledge lies a fascinating story about how it came about. The “History of Science” consists of the documentation of the processes that led to the technological and scientific achievements we have witnessed throughout history.

The History of Science collection at the National Library of Israel is based on the work of Dr. Sidney M. Edelstein, a Jewish-American chemist, inventor, and bibliophile who, along with his wife Mildred, supported many charitable programs in the United States and Israel. Edelstein’s greatest passion was the history of science and technology. He channeled his enthusiasm into the amassing of a wonderful library, which he donated to the National Library of Israel.

The Edelstein Collection is a comprehensive collection of works dating from the 16th century to the present covering all areas of the history, philosophy and sociology of science. The books in the collection deal with the full range of thought, from the occult to the exact sciences, from witchcraft to quantum mechanics, from palm reading to the cognitive sciences, from astrology to space technology. The collection includes primary sources alongside secondary literature, periodicals and a reference section. Most of the books are in English, but there are also works in French, German, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Hebrew.

The collection includes the complete writings (Opera Omnia) of Euclid, Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Berkeley, Newton, Boyle, Huygens, Euler, Linnaeus, LaGrange, Laplace, Poincaré, Pierce, Bohr and Schrödinger among many others. Besides the complete works, one can also find rich bibliographies compiled by or about prominent figures in science, such as Darwin, Einstein, Cuvier, Duhem and more. Just as science continually evolves, so too does this collection. Alongside remnants of ancient sciences and obsolete theories (such as phrenology, physiognomy and alchemy), one can find new areas of science and topics that have developed in recent decades (such as genetics and eugenics, quantum theory, ecology and environmental sciences, computer science and information technology, atomic energy and the atomic bomb).