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Online catalogues of printed rare books
English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists over 460,000 items
Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC)
The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue is the international database of 15th-century European printing created by the British Library with contributions from institutions worldwide. The database records nearly every item printed from movable type before 1501, but not material printed entirely from woodblocks or engraved plates. 30,375 editions are listed as of March 2014, including some 16th-century items previously assigned incorrectly to the 15th century
Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalog
Provides citations and major research library holdings data on all print materials published in the United States and the British Empire from 1801 to 1919, all books in English, wherever published, during that same time, as well as translations from English. The 1.2 million records in the database are drawn from eight copyright and research libraries
Eighteenth Century Collections Online Eighteenth Century Collections Online, a comprehensive digital edition of The Eighteenth Century, the world's largest library on microfilm of the printed book available through its imprint Primary Source Microfilm.
Other notable HPS special collections in Cambridge
Whipple Library special collections
The Whipple Library has an impressive and historically significant special collection of approx. 8000 rare printed books, dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, plus a further 5000 pamphlets. All these items are individually catalogued and can be found via LibrarySearch, with the classmark prefix STORE. Please fill in a request slip at the Library desk for any books you would like to see from the Store.
The collections span topics from astronomy to natural history, and microscopy to phrenology. You'll find lots more information about our special collections, with images, on our website.
All students are welcome to consult items from our special collections on request, and HPS students are particularly encouraged to consider dissertation and extended essay projects based on this material. Please speak to a member of staff if you would like to explore this further.
Origins of the Whipple Collections
The origins of the Library's special collections lie in the gift of c.1200 rare scientific books given to the University by Mr Robert S. Whipple in 1944. Whipple succeeded Horace (son of Charles) Darwin as Managing Director of the Cambridge Scientific Instruments Company, a globally successful firm that designed and supplied scientific instruments and equipment to a variety of customers in the first half of the twentieth century. He also nurtured a keen interest in the history of science through his collecting of books and instruments, including a notable collection of early editions of the works of Robert Boyle, a comprehensive set of works by eighteenth-century instrument maker Benjamin Martin, and an important corpus of trade literature.