We have begun a year-long renovation that will prepare us to launch a major exhibition in August, 2015, entitled Galileo’s World.

Because of the renovation and preparations for Galileo’s World, we will not be able to offer tours or class visits until August, 2015. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we hope a year from now everyone will agree that the wait was worthwhile.

Researchers and students are still welcome and will be accommodated, although there will be more motion and noise than usual.

Check the Contact Us – Visit page for more information.

Rendering of new lobby for the History of Science Collections, coming summer 2015
Coming soon!

Posted in In the news

“From the Vault” video resources

by Kerry Magruder, Curator

A series of “From the vault” videos is now available from OU’s Janux platform. These short videos, filmed on location by NextThought in the OU History of Science Collections, show rare treasures for a given topic along with a concisely-worded comment or story. Think of them as behind-the-scenes moments in a tour of the rare book vaults. Most are only 5-10 minutes long. They are not recorded lectures; rather than offering comprehensive information about a subject, they are designed to appeal to the imagination, to awaken interest in the history of science by conveying something of the physical presence of the rare books themselves. For this reason, they may be useful as auxiliary instructional resources for other courses across the various natural sciences including physics, astronomy, medicine, biology, geology, meteorology, chemistry, mathematics and engineering, as well as in humanities disciplines such as history, art, literature and the history of science.

Camille Flammarion, L'Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), p. 163.  Colorized by Susanna J. Magruder. Courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.To access the videos, go to, and look in the Archive section for the History of Science to the Age of Newton course (HSCI 3013). As noted here previously, the course was offered in the 2014 spring semester, but the videos are still accessible to anyone by registering for the free version of the course. (The course icon, “Boldly go…,” may help you spot it quickly.) Within the course in the Janux platform, click the Lessons tab to view course content arranged week by week. The outline below will help you quickly find the videos of interest to you.

Have an iPad? A Janux app makes accessing the videos a breeze.

The numbers in the outline below are discontinuous; only the “From the Vault” videos (FTV) for each weekly unit are included. Not listed below (but equally accessible) are companion videos, filmed in a studio setting, which for each week’s topic invite students to consider what they know of the cultural context (“Starting Assumptions”) and to engage thought-provoking points of view (“Interpretations”).

  1. Week 1, Exploring the Past
    • 1.1 Orientation
      • Science is a Story (1:55 mins)
      • Welcome: Crossing Cultures, Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries (7:57 mins)
    • 1.3 Stonehenge (17:30 mins)
    • 1.4 Shape of the Earth (9:08 mins)
  2. Week 2, Origins of Ancient Astronomy
    • 2.2 Astronomy in Ancient Mesopotamia (4:31 mins)
  3. Week 3, Science in Ancient Egypt and the Aegean
    • 3.2 Ancient Egyptian science (3:45 mins)
    • 3.3 Presocratic Natural Philosophy (2:35 mins)
  4. Week 4, Ancient Greek science
    • 4.2 Pythagoras and Plato (5:03 mins)
    • 4.3 Aristotle (3:58 mins)
  5. Week 5, Hellenistic science
    • 5.2 Hellenistic mathematical sciences (4:01 mins)
    • 5.3 Hellenistic medicine (2:24 mins)
  6. Week 6, Roman science
    • 6.2 Early Roman science (7:42 mins)
    • 6.3 Later Roman science (9:55 mins)
  7. Week 7, Islamic and Early Medieval science
    • 7.2 Islamic science (21:15 mins)
    • 7.3 Early Medieval science (5:04 mins)
  8. Week 8, 14th-century science
    • 8.2 14th-century science (4:05 mins)
    • 8.3 Theories of the Earth (12:14 mins)
  9. Week 9, 15th-century science
    • 9.2 The Printing Revolution (17:01 mins)
    • 9.3 Science and Art from Leonardo to Galileo (4:05 mins)
  10. Week 10, 16th-century Life sciences
    • 10.2 16th-century Medicine (7:13 mins)
    • 10.3 16th-century Natural History (9:23 mins)
  11. Week 11, 16th-century Astronomy
    • 11.2 Astronomy before Copernicus (see Dive Deeper instructions)
    • 11.2 Astronomy after Copernicus (see Dive Deeper instructions)
  12. Week 12, Science in Asia
    • 12.2 Science in Pre-modern Asia (4:26 mins)
    • 12.3 European and Chinese collaboration in the age of Galileo (5:24 mins)
  13. Week 13, Galileo
    • 13.2 Galileo’s works (9:06 mins)
    • 13.3 The Galileo Affair (9:30 mins)
  14. Week 14, 17th-century science
    • 14.2 Competing paradigms (FTV not yet available)
    • 14.3 The Meaning of science (FTV not yet available)
  15. Week 15, Newton
    • 15.2 Newton’s works (FTV not yet available)
    • 15.3 Janus faces (FTV not yet available)

Send questions or comments about the videos to


This is an ongoing effort and collaboration between NextThought and OU. Yet convenience of access is paramount. So we’re hoping that they’ll soon make these videos available through youTube and iTunes U in addition to the Janux app on the App Store.

Posted in Class aids, Digital projects, Learning resources

BL5 Exhibitions and Displays

Bizzell Library, 5th floor, Exhibitions and Displays

Only 2 more weeks to see the Crossing Cultures exhibit and the Can’t Get Enough Sherlock? display!

Posted in Exhibits and events

OU Libraries Top 10

See the OU Libraries youTube channel for more overview videos.

Posted in In the news

Happy birthday, Mac!

Today is the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of Macintosh, the first computer to be marketed to a wide public with a mouse and windows-based user interface. All of our computers today are its heirs.

1984 Mac
To celebrate, stop by the History of Science Collections and view an early, low-serial number 1984 Macintosh, donated by Tim Long, on display in the Roller Reading Room. The Collections also holds a late-1984 Macintosh donated by Kennard and Kay Bork; these are part of a computer collection consisting of approximately 40 working computers from the 1970′s through the 1990′s.

Steve Jobs, Rosetta Stone
One of my favorite portraits of Steve Jobs, taken by Tom Zimberoff, hangs above an easy chair in the Researcher Lounge of the History of Science Collections. Jobs saw that the Mac would do for computers what alphabetic writing did for ancient civilization. The Rosetta Stone displays the same text in three bands of writing, beginning with Egyptian hieroglyphics and the more-easily read demotic script. Both hieroglyphics and demotic, like Mesopotamian cuneiform languages, were written in syllabaries comprised of several hundred characters. Syllabaries were the scripts of highly trained scribes, mastered only through a long period of preparation. As a result, scribes were an elite culture, and their work was subject to the control of large, highly-organized states in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In contrast, the lowest band is Greek, an alphabetic script. With only a couple dozen characters, Greek could be mastered with determination by anyone. The resulting impact of Greek culture upon the world, made possible by literacy, signified to Jobs what the Mac and the 20th-century Information Revolution were all about.

Research Lounge

Posted in In the news

Can’t get enough Sherlock?

Adventures of Sherlock HolmesVisit the lobby of the History of Science Collections to view a display of books by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930):

Holmes' pipe Holmes' hat

  • A Study in Scarlet (1888)
  • The Sign of the Four (1890)
  • The White Company (1892), with author’s inscription and autograph letter*
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
  • The Speckled Band (1912)
  • The Adventure of the Dying Detective (1913)
  • His Last Bow (1917)

*The White Company is from the History of Science Collections. All other works are from the John and Mary Nichols Rare Books and Special Collections.

Autograph letter of Arthur Conan Doyle

In addition to these rare books, two scholarly works are on display:

  • Alvin E. Rodin & Jack D. Key, Medical Case Book of Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle (1984)
  • Lawrence Frank, Victorian Detective Fiction and the Nature of Evidence (2003)

Larry Frank book


More info: Exhibits and Displays LibGuide
Where: History of Science Collections, 5th Floor, Bizzell Memorial Library (visit)
When: Monday-Thursday 9am -6:45; Friday 9am-4:45 Saturday 12-3:45
Contact: (405) 325-2741

Doyle, White Company, inscribed

Posted in Exhibits and events | 1 Comment


by Kerry Magruder

On Monday morning Janux, OU’s new digital course platform, launches with the following courses, all of which offer free public enrollment:

  • Native Peoples of Oklahoma
  • Practical Importance of Human Evolution
  • Chemistry of Beer
  • Understanding and Detecting Deception
  • Power and Elegance of Computational Thinking
  • Introduction to Computer Programming
  • Administration of Adult and Higher Education
  • Introduction to Water
  • Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources
  • Physical Geology for Science and Engineering Majors
  • History of Science to the Age of Newton
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • Introduction to Sociology

Go on over to the site and take a look. Sign up for any that interest you. On Monday morning, join thousands of other people around the world who will interact together as they explore these courses.

The Janux platform offers numerous features tailored to promote engaging learning opportunities, including text annotations, student interaction through forum discussions, and high-impact videos including interviews and on-location documentaries. Courses range the gamut across the sciences and humanities, offering anyone around the world access, without charge, to the intellectual resources of the University of Oklahoma.

One reason posting to this blog has lagged in recent months is because the Janux platform will include my own course, History of Science to the Age of Newton. But the truth is that this course no longer seems really my own: It began with the interested support of Dean Rick Luce and my colleagues in the Department of the History of Science, who encouraged me to engage the platform even during a time when we have other significant, large-scale digital initiatives afoot. It has been produced by a team of remarkable people with whom I have been privileged to work, whose skill and graciousness have inspired me. My debts to them are inestimable: Angie Calton, course design assistant; Grey Allman and the programming team, who have slaved away many late nights to implement new platform features to support high-quality online pedagogy; and Chris Kalinsky and the rest of the videography team (Meleah, Pat, Matt, Darren, & Jaynan), who are artists of light and shadow and have invested extended hours in filming the books – those treasures from the vault – on location in the History of Science Collections. Without their insight, initiative, skill, dogged labors, teamwork, collegiality and perseverance, my course would not be included in that list.

The launch of Janux is an exciting time for OU and for all of those involved. My hat is off to everyone who made it possible, and now the countdown to Monday morning begins…

Posted in Digital projects | 1 Comment