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Rare Science Books on Display at Beeghly Library

(Posted September 30, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- More than 20 rare science texts and a collection of 19th century scientific pamphlets will be on display to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 in the Swigart Treasure Room on the second floor of Juniata College?s Beeghly Library.

The two-day display is free and open to the public and is scheduled to coincide with the college's Homecoming Weekend and the dedication of the William J. von Liebig Center for Science. The exhibit, which will be on display through the fall semester, can be seen by appointment after Oct. 5 by calling the library office at (814) 641-3452.

"These truly are the jewels of the college's rare book archives," says Don Durnbaugh, Juniata's archivist and the organizer of the exhibit. "These are invaluable texts for scientists and historians."

Included in the exhibit is a rare book by Benjamin Franklin, "Experiments and Observations on Electricity," published in 1769, and the oldest book in the exhibition, a 1529 medical text by Galen, the 2nd-century court physician of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Galen text, written in Latin, was republished in 1529.

The library also will display books written by three early pioneers of science, including books by Robert Boyle (1627-1691), a chemist considered the "father of modern chemistry." The scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is represented by his book "The Natural History of Ten Centuries," and the scientist and theologian Joseph Priestley (1733-1784) is represented by his four-volume "Notes of Scripture."

The exhibition also contains examples from a large collection of scientific pamphlets from the library's Abraham Harley Cassel collection.
Among the scientific books that might be classified as oddities are a book on shells written by Edgar Allen Poe that was later proved to have been plagiarized from a British scientific text, and an 1818 book on "pow-wowing." Pow-wowing, or "braucherei," is a type of faith healing or folk medicine practiced by Pennsylvania German sects.

"The library has an extraordinary special collection,' says Mumford. "We look forward to offering more exhibits in the future."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.