Mathematics in the stacks

Last semester we received a request to develop a tour for students in MATH107. At first glance, this seemed like an unlikely fit for our education program. The instructor explained that her students were mostly arts, humanities, and social science majors and we quickly understood how this collaboration could be a great opportunity to reach out to these students.

I worked with the curators of our collections to identify material. Course topics included:

…data analysis, equations, systems of equations, inequalities, elementary linear programming, Venn diagrams, counting, basic probability, permutations, combinations, tree diagrams, standard normal and normal distributions…includes problem solving and decision making in economics, management, and social sciences.

Curators recommended a great deal of material that I had no idea existed within out stacks! This was truly a hidden collection.

Material fell into four thematic sets, including early books on mathematics, educational resources, workplace tools, and discussions of gender and mathematics. Explore the resources used for the class below and, no matter your topic, reach out to us to explore potential educational opportunities. You might be surprised what we can find related to your topics.

Early books


Printed in 1593, book on geometry, astrology, and science. Great illustrations throughout. Includes some fold out charts. A bit fragile, so handle with care. Also has some underlining and hand written notes by a reader. By Conrad Dasypodius, prof of maths



Printed in 1660, it is a small, portable book featuring works by Greek mathematician Euclid (300BC) “founder of geometry”. this title is Elements of Euclid, which was instrumental in the development of logic.



Printed in Germany in 1651, great title page. It is a work on science and arithmetic. It uses a gothic font popular at the time. Great illustrations. By Daniel Schwenter, a prof of maths. Schwenter is credited with developing the scioptic ball in 1636. This is a universal joint that allows a microscope, mounted on the ball, to be swiveled into any position.



Printed in 1631, a geometry text with lots of charts, equations,&  diagrams. Includes pre-calculator charts for Sins, Cosins, and Tangents. By Johan Philip Lansberge, mathematician and astronomer. He lived at the same time as Galileo, who studied his work



Printed in 1638, Galileo’s final book and a scientific testament covering much of his work in physics over the preceding thirty years



Froebel, Friedrich is credited with developing the idea for kindergarten and other childhood education theory. These are examples of what Froebel called “crystal forms” which were used to teach geometry to children.  
Memorabilia, 1807-1970. Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) records, Series 3. Box 14. Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.



Mathematics school copybook of John Mann, from Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, 1818-1819, Maryland Manuscripts collection, Item 2685, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.



Various ledgers, Maryland Manuscripts collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.



Various ledgers, Maryland Manuscripts collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.



“The intellectual calculator, or, manual of practical arithmetic”, Special Collections Stacks, ACEI 509, University of Maryland Libraries



“Accounting ABC’s for Secretaries”, Bureau of Business Practice Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.



Amrstrong, Jane M. “Women in Mathematics.” Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States, March 1980, Women’s Studies Pamphlet Collection series 1 box 9 folder 1 item 3, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.



Ernest, John. “Mathematics and Sex.” American Mathematical Monthly, April 1976, Women’s Studies Pamphlet Collection, Series 1, Box 24, Folder 1, item 6, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.


Post by Laura Cleary, Instruction and Outreach, Special Collections and University Archives

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