The Howe 19th c. Chemistry Collection
(draft of a guide prepared by Hugh Blackmer, December 1995, and
last revised on 10 Dec)
Leyburn Library has an uncataloged collection of nearly 700 titles from
the personal libraries of two former Chemistry professors (William George
Brown [1885-1894] and Jas. Louis Howe). The books are shelved in
Technical Services, in no
particular order on the shelves, and present an unprepossessing appearance.
The value and potential utility
(and even the contents) of this collection was unknown, but the survey
reported here gives at least a basis for thinking about these problems.
In addition, what follows is an example of a form of enhanced bibliographic
access which might be applied to other subsets of the Library's holdings.
To create the lists below I first looked up each title in HOLLIS and
downloaded the catalog record if one existed;
I then searched for items not found in HOLLIS in the OCLC database (via
WorldCat); I entered the 20-odd items not found in either
HOLLIS or OCLC in basic author/date/title/publisher form.
After considerable manipulation of the resulting merged file of catalog
records using Word, I used FoxPro to create a single database file
which could be sorted and queried for particular characteristics. The
results are a number of suggestive partitions of the Howe collection:
A list of ANNIE
pre-1900 QD holdings may also make an interesting comparison (I have
not yet identified duplicates in the two collections).
Quarrying of Howe Hall in June 1996 turned up a few
other titles which should be merged into these lists.
Another analytical possibility is partitioning the collection by
type, assigning titles to categories such as
And, for completeness, here's a chronologically-ordered list of the
titles which don't fall under one of the
categories above; clearly many of them could be assigned to useful
- textbooks (also sorted by date of
publication, offering the opportunity to consider the evolution of the
introductory chemistry text)
- Analytical chemistry (the titles sometimes specify 'qualitative' and/or
'quantitative', with or without 'analytical')
- Organic chemistry
- 'medical' chemistry
A considerable number of the items in the collection are in French or
German. Lists sorted by publication date:
The physical condition of some of the items in the collection is cause
for concern, mostly because of disintegration and water damage. I have made
summary of condition for damaged items (alphabetized by author), and
have also noted multiple
volume titles where one or more is missing. More detail could be added if
it was worthwhile to do so.
Comments on the collection and/or this document can be sent to