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The Library of James Smithson on LibraryThing

by Martin Kalfatovic

Sil2817702 Thanks to Jeremy Dibbell, SI Libraries own Suzanne Pilsk, and the folks at LibraryThing, we’ve now added most (113 out of just over 120) of the remaining known books from library of James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian Institution.

One of the great things about LibraryThing is the ability to compare libraries. Other famous libraries on LibraryThing include those of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Samuel Johnson. A quick glance shows us that Smithson shared 4 titles with Jefferson, and one each with Johnson and Adams.

Take at look at Smithson’s LibraryThing library. But also be sure to visit the Smithsonian Libraries website, the Galaxy of Knowledge, to learn more about the collection and to see a number of images from the library that include Smithson’s annotations: Smithson’s Library.

Leslie K. Overstreet, the Smithsonian Libraries Curator of Natural-History  Rare Books, writes of the Smithson Library:

James Smithson (c.1765-1829), an 18th-century gentleman of science, included his library with his bequest to the United States, and those books now reside in the vault of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.     The collection consists of 115 titles, primarily scientific monographs and journal articles, but also history and memoirs, political pamphlets, travel books and museum guides, and a few household items like cookbooks.

To learn more about James Smithson, take a look at the recently published, The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution and the Birth of the Smithsonian by Heather Ewing (2007).

Image at above:
André Jacques Garnerin
Air ballon & parachute; a circumstantial account of the three last aërial voyages made by M. Garnerin, viz. from Vauxhall Gardens, accompanied by Madame Garnerin and Mr. Glassford, on Tuesday, August 5, 1802, [1802]
http://www.sil.si.edu/ImageGalaxy/imagegalaxy_imageDetail.cfm?id_image=8483

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