in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology
digital collection gives some basic information about the 320 incunabula
in the Dibner
Library of the History of Science and Technology's collection.
Incunabula (from the Latin word meaning swaddling clothes or, figuratively,
infancy) are European books printed with movable type during the
fifteenth century, that is, during the very beginnings of Western
printing. Incunabula represent the formative stages of printing
practice when the transition from manuscripts to modern books occurred.
The Dibner Library's collection is remarkable in that the majority
of the works concentrate on scientific (or more properly, natural
philosophy), mathematical, and medical subjects. Almost all of the
Dibner Library's incunabula were originally collected by Bern Dibner
for the Burndy Library.
works here are indexed primarily by their "Goff Number,"
their assigned number in Frederick Richmond Goff's Incunabula
in American libraries (New York, 1964). Since almost all of
the incunabula came from the Burndy Library gift in 1974-76, Goff
will not list these works as being at the Dibner Library. The more
Library Incunabula Short Title Catalog (ISTC), will have most
of these works listed as being at the Dibner Library (location code
Sm(D)L), but there are a few which are still indicated as being
at the Burndy
Library (code BurL) instead of at the Dibner Library. A few
titles are dated after the year 1500; they are included here for
completeness' sake because of earlier errors or uncertainties in
their actual date of publication.
a few of the incunabula in this digital collection currently have
images associated with them. Over the course of time we will begin
to add images to this collection, so please come back and visit
in the future to see what we have added.
works are available for research in the Dibner Library. To make
an appointment to see these works, please contact the staff at 202-633-3872
or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
more detailed information about individual works, please examine
their records in the Smithsonian
Institution Libraries' online catalog, SIRIS.
Head of Special Collections and
of Science and Technology Rare Books