Contact Information
  • Librarian: Catherine Minter
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E960
  • Phone: (812) 855-1702
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 12/4/2012

History and Philosophy of Science Collections at IU Bloomington

Having a good understanding of what materials are available for research in the History and Philosophy of Science at any academic institution can be challenging, given the broad scope of the field. At IU Bloomington, there are many different libraries and collection that house resources of interest to the HPS researcher.

Aside from Online Resources provided by the library, and materials in Wells Library, or the off campus Auxiliary Library Facility, there are strong collections in the Lilly rare books and manuscripts library, IU Archives, Math/ Physics/ Astronomy library in Swain Hall, Life Sciences Library, Chemistry Library, and a few other campus resources of interest. In addition there are some useful search strategies for teasing out HPS relevant material from these different libraries.


Online Resources – The library HPS subject page, bibliographies, indexes, reference resources, etc.

Wells Library – Resources in the primary IU Bloomington library

ALF – Resources in the Auxiliary Library Facility

Lilly Library – Resources in the rare books and manuscripts/ special collection library

IU Archives – Resources in the IU archives

Swain Hall Library – Library for math, physics, and astronomy

Life Sciences Library – Library for biology, molecular and cellular biochemistry, and medical sciences

Chemistry Library – Library for chemistry and molecular and cellular biochemistry.

Other Resources

Search Tips for HPS researchers


The library subject page for History and Philosophy of Science contains a large number of databases, reference sources, abstracts, bibliographies and more. It’s a good place to start for subject specific access to research materials.

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science also maintains a useful links page of use to HPS researchers.


Wells is the primary library for the IU Bloomington campus, located at 1320 East 10th Street (see a campus map ). The collection at Wells Library is searchable through IUCAT . Relevant call numbers for browsing include:

B-BJ (philosophy, Psychology) - 4th Floor
C-F (History, including General, Eastern hemisphere, and Western hemisphere) – 5th Floor
H (Social science) – 7th Floor
Q (Science), R (Medicine), T (Technology) – 10th Floor
In particular:
Q Science (General)
QA Mathematics
QB Astronomy
QC Physics
QD Chemistry
QE Geology
QH Natural History – Biology
QK Botany
QL Zoology
QM Human anatomy
QP Physiology
QR Microbiology
R131-687 History of Medicine
R702-703 Medicine and the Humanities

Wells Library also offers several services that may be of help to researchers, including private study spaces, computing work stations, copying services, University Information Technology Services, and more. In addition, the office of the subject librarian for History and Philosophy of Science can be found on the 5th floor.


The resources available in the stacks at Wells represent only a portion of the available works held by IU. Following national trends, the physical book collection at Wells is under increasing pressure to downsize to create space for computer terminals, digital access initiatives, etc. As such, resources formerly held at Wells library have been moved to IU’s state of the art offsite Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility, or ALF .

One consequence of note for the HPS researcher is that older science materials no longer used by current scientists are among the materials most likely to be moved. Items held by ALF are searchable through IUCAT and obtainable through ALF delivery requests or can be requested directly from the IUCAT record. For example, searching IUCAT for “The Epic History of Biology” by Anthony Serafini, shows that the only copy available on campus is housed at ALF, and a link is provided to “Request This ALF Item”. The item can then conveniently be delivered to any campus library. A few items housed at ALF are available through restricted use only, meaning they are non-circulating and can only be accessed in designated reading rooms on campus. This includes certain Lilly Library materials and Archival materials. More information can be found on the Request From ALF page .


The Lilly Library is the principle rare books, manuscripts, and special collections repository of Indiana University, located at 1200 East Seventh Street (see a campus map ). The Lilly’s collection may be of particular interest to researchers in the History and Philosophy of Science, as its holdings are strong in this area, as J. K. Lilly had a strong collecting interest in the history of science and medicine. Some of the brief examples listed on the Medicine and Science section of the Lilly Collections website include De Humani corporis fabrica of Vesalius (1543) and William Harvey's description of human blood circulation, De Motu cordis, (1628) as well as first and early editions of Hippocrates, Malpighi, Pare, Hunter, Jenner, Laennec, Bigelow and Fleming among others. Also in the collection are original editions of works such by Pliny, Euclid, Copernicus, Kepler, Napier, Galileo, Boyle, Newton, Priestley, Lavoisier, Ampere, Faraday, Pasteur, and Curie to name but a few.

The science holdings at the Lilly were further expanded with the acquisition of a large applied science and technology collection from the library of Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. Recent acquisitions also include papers of Nobel Prize winning geneticist Hermann J. Muller and of Tracy M. Sonneborn, and the Vaclav Hlavaty papers, which contain a long correspondence between Hlavaty and Albert Einstein concerning the mathematical proofs for Einstein's theories.

The Lilly also maintains collection catalogues from past exhibits, many of which may act as bibliographies and guides to particularly strong aspects of the History and Philosophy of Science collection. Among these are exhibition catalogues on Biology, Newton and the Scientific Revolution, Medicine and more. Furthermore, several of these collection catalogues are available online, for example, Newton and the Scientific Revolution.

While Lilly materials are searchable through IUCAT, the library also maintains guides and descriptions to its own collections, complete with inventories, finding aids, and subject headings, which may be of more use to a researcher interested in a particular area. The best place to start would be the Lilly Library Guide to Medicine and Science Collections .

Note that the Lilly is a non-circulating library, thus any materials in its collection must be used within the Library’s spacious reading room. The Lilly also offers digitization services for researchers who have identified items of interest but are unable to travel to Bloomington. Finally, there are always staff available who are knowledgeable and familiar with the collections to help patrons find items of interest. Check for hours and general information.


One of the more under-utilized collections relating to the History and Philosophy of Science is the IU Archives. The archives house, among other things, the research notes, papers, publication, and teaching materials of notable faculty members. In addition, the Archives office maintains a large collection of Finding Aids available at Archives Online at Indiana University.

Some examples of how the archives could be of use to a researcher in the history and philosophy of science:

The archives house the papers of Edward Grant papers, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and History and Philosophy of Science. The Grant papers include drafts of works, research notes, publications, and more. For researchers interested in medieval science, the archives can provide valuable research notes and bibliographies. The Edward Grant finding aid is available here.

The archives also house the papers of famous scientists that have been associated with IU over the years, for example the historian of science Richard Westfall (Finding aid available here). Included in the papers of many of the biologists, physicist, mathematicians, and others housed in the archives are data sets relevant to their research, and correspondence with other researchers in the field.

The archives also house records of campus groups that may be of interest to the historian of science. For example, the records of the Euclidean Circle (finding aid here), a social and intellectual club founded in 1907 consisting of faculty and students that focused on the study of mathematics.

Of course these are only brief examples of the versatile ways in which the archives could be used. Finding aids are available for browsing or searching online, and include subject headings that will help the researcher limit their search to a particular field. Note that if there is a particular former IU faculty member a researcher is interested in, it may be useful to speak to an archivist as well as consulting the finding aid. The archives are constantly growing, and some items may have yet to be processed. An archivist will quickly be able to point an interested researcher toward items of interest.


Swain Hall houses the library for Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, and Computer Science collections on campus, and is located at Swain Hall West 208, 727 East Third Street (see a campus map). The physical collection holds several journals, many of which are as yes not available digitally, as well as books on current and historical topics in the fields of math, physics, and astronomy. The library’s subject page lists hours and building access information, as well as many textbooks accessible for free, should you need to brush up on your math skills.


The Life Sciences Library houses materials for the departments of Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Medical Sciences, and Nursing Program, and is located in Jordan Hall A304 1001 East Third Street (see a campus map ). The library currently houses approximately 3,000 volumes with strengths including biochemistry, biotechnology, cellular biology, developmental biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, plant sciences, and zoology. In addition to works on the history of life sciences, the library also holds titles related to bioethics. The Library’s homepage list hours, as well as links to online resources, reference materials, citation indexes and databases.


The Chemistry library serves the departments of Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology, and is located in Chemistry C003, 800 East Kirkwood Avenue (see a campus map ). There are several works within the collection relating to the history of chemistry, and the library’s homepage includes an excellent guide to general research within the collection), as well as links to databases, reference materials, e-books, and more.


While all of these various libraries will contain materials of interest to the HPS reaearcher, the list is by no means exhaustive. Depending on what topics the researcher may be interested in, other collections of note on campus may include the Geosciences library, Optometry library , or Public Health library. Even items in the Fine Arts library can be useful to the researcher in HPS. For example they house a facsimile of facsimile of DaVinci’s Codex Atlanticus. It’s always a good idea to consult a librarian about what might be in a collection that could be of use, as more often than not, they can quickly point a researcher in the appropriate direction. A complete list of campus libraries can be found here . In addition, there may be non-library resources of interest to the HPS researcher on campus, such as the Indiana Geological survey or any number of equipment and specimens found within the various science departments.


It is possible to search for a resource within a specific library by limiting an IUCAT search to that specific library. On the IUCAT search page , you can choose a specific library from the “location” drop down menu. This can very quickly sort items that may be of use to HPS researchers from items directly used by science students in the subject libraries. For example, selecting the Swain Hall library and searching using “History” as a keyword returns results dealing with the history of mathematics, physics, and astronomy, while searching “bioethics” in the Life sciences library returns similarly specific results.

Created by Jason Gavin. Last Modified 12/4/2012 by Jason Gavin.

last updated: 12/4/2012