In order to write four influential books on the history of chemistry, St Andrews’ Professor John Read (1884-1963) assembled a remarkable collection of primary sources.
Read, a brilliant organic chemist who specialised in stereochemistry, had been recruited from Cambridge to a named chair at St Andrews in the 1920s. He was a prolific scholar, publishing 17 books and over 250 scientific articles as well as being an excellent teacher.
Read’s historical chemistry collection comprises 600-700 rare books, as well as manuscripts, such as Isaac Newton’s hand-written notes on alchemy. After Read’s death in the 1960s, the collection was transferred to the library. The collection was catalogued, but not online. Sometimes special collections are hidden right under our noses!
Jen Schaffner, our Project Cataloguer for the past year, has been taking images of rare books from the collection. Here are some of her highlights:
Recording found in the collection of the St Andrews University Choir performing fugues from Atalanta Fugiens at the Royal Institution, 22 Nov 1935.