The Bibliotheca Mathematica of David Bierens de Haan

List of 18th and 17th century works in the Bibliotheca Mathematica
Contents of Portfolio Quarto 1
Random selections of 19-th century works from the other Portfolios.
List of some mathematics textbooks in the
Bibliotheca Paedagogica of Bierens de Haan.

Introduction

The Dutch mathematician and historian of mathematics David Bierens de Haan (1822 - 1895) left most of his enormous library on mathematics and history of science to the Library of the University of Leiden. The bequest consists of thousands of books as well as tens of thousands of reprints and pamphlets. Most of the books have been catalogued, but the Bierens de Haan library includes three very large collections of booklets and reprints which cannot be accessed through the catalogue of the Leiden University Library. These three collections are called the Bibliotheca Paedagogica, the Bibliotheca Biographica, and the Bibliotheca Mathematica.

In 2003, an exhibition was devoted to Bierens de Haan, and an inventory of the Bibliotheca Paedagogica and the Bibliotheca Biographica was published in pp. 92-108 of Kaspar van Ommen, "Een Onvermoeide Arbeid Komt Alles te Boven": De Bibliotheca Mathematica, paedagogica and biographica van David Bierens de Haan, Leiden 2003 (Kleine publicaties van de Universiteitsbibliotheek Nr. 54). This publication will be abbreviated to EOA.

The Bibliotheca Paedagogica consists of around 350 portfolios of on average 20 thematically ordered publications on (history of) primary, secondary and university education. The portfolios are listed in EOA as in the following examples: (octavo format) port. no. 58 Polytechnical School at Delft (29 publications, not listed individually); port. no. 88 Primary Education in general, publications between 1860 and 1864 (32 publications, not listed individually) (and (quarto format) port. no. 80a, University of Freiburg i. Br, Orations and Programs, 1818-1895 (26 publications, not listed individually).

The Bibliotheca Biographica consists of 47 portfolios containing biographies and biographical information, ordered alphabetically on the name of author. These portfolios are listed in EOA as follows: (For example: Port. 1: C.A. Abbing - M. d'Avezac; Port. 2: Ch. Babbage to A.J. Beauvisage, etc.).

For the Bibliotheca Mathematica, the number of publications in each portfolio is listed in EOA, as in the following examples: Bib. Math. Octavo, Port. I, no's 1-29, Bib. Math. Octavo, Port. II, no's 1-25, etc. Bibl. Math. Octavo Port. XXXII no's 1-12; Bibl. Math. Quarto Port. I, no's 1-40, etc. EOA does not contain information on the titles and contents of the individual publications in each portfolio.

The curator of the Western rare book section, Dr. Anton van der Lem, graciously made the Bibliotheca Mathematica accessible to me for inspection. Subsequently, the entire Bibliotheca Mathematica was entered into the catalogue of the Leiden University Library by Dr. Harm Jan Smid. All the items can now be accessed through the catalogue. I nevertheless leave these documents on my website mainly for nostalgic reasons.

It turns out that the Bibliotheca Mathematica is not thematically ordered. The focus is on offprints and booklets in research mathematics (as opposed to teaching) which were published in the nineteenth century, in which Bierens de Haan himself lived. Mathematics is taken in a wide sense, including physical and astronomical applications, insurance mathematics, and so on. There are few publications devoted to teaching, and very few which have no relation to mathematics at all. The Bibliotheca Mathematica includes many German gymnasium programmes which contain mathematical publications. Gymnasium programmes are also a special category in the Bibliotheca Paedagogica.
All the material in the Octavo portfolios is of course in octavo format. The Quarto portfolios contain many publications in octavo too.

To give an example of the random organization of the Bibliotheca Mathematica, I have listed the titles of the (40) publications in the first quarto postfolio below. In the limited time at my disposal, I cannot catalogue the whole collection. I have compiled a list with (abbreviated) titles of all works in the Bibliotheca Mathematica which were printed before 1800. and another list of various treatises in the Bibliotheca Mathematica which seemed interesting or odd to me.

The bibliotheca Mathematica includes some very rare treatises, not otherwise found in the Netherlands. See the end of the list of 17th and 18-th century books in the Bibliotheca Mathematica. I have done some checking in the Dutch Central Catalogue (NCC) and have added [not in NCC] if the item in question does not occur in this catalogue.

It turns out that the Bibliotheca Mathematica actually has been catalogued by hand, probably around the beginning of the 20th century. The Leiden University Library possesses two green cardboard boxes, each containing around 750 paper slips (ca. 5 by 20 cm). Each slip contains an author's name, and title of one publication together with its location in the Bibliotheca Mathematica (portfolio number and publication number in the portfolio). The slips are ordere alphabetically. The green box "Bibliotheca Mathematica no. 2" contains author's names A through J, and the green box "Bibliotheca Mathematica no. 1" contains author's names K through Z.

The Bibliotheca Paedagogica was also catalogued in a similar way, and the slips occupy 5 boxes (A-C, C-H, H-M, M-S, S-Z).

List of 18th and 17th century works in the Bibliotheca Mathematica
Contents of Portfolio Quarto 1
Random selections of 19-th century works from the other Portfolios.
List of some mathematics textbooks in the
Bibliotheca Paedagogica of Bierens de Haan.

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Jan Hogendijk <J.P.Hogendijk_at_uu.nl>
nov 2005