By 1632, Italian mathematician, physicist, astronomer and “father of science” Galileo Galilei wrote “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.”
Today, the scientist’s own copy, with his gracefully slanted notes in the margins, rests halfway around the world, in the University of Oklahoma’s History of Science Collections in Bizzell Memorial Library, in Norman. Visitors viewing the work “might be touching some of Galileo’s DNA,” the History of Science Web site notes. “You would be holding the very book that he held in his hands.”
It’s a “terribly important book,” said Marilyn Ogilvie, curator of the collection since 1991. But, when it comes to such cultural and historical riches, university libraries like Bizzell offer a wealth of treasures statewide.
In Stillwater, Oklahoma State University’s Edmon Low Library houses the typewriter Oklahoma historian Angie Debo used to produce her piercing works, and the research behind them. The proofs to 19th- and 20th-century Irish author James Joyce’s experimental novel “Finnegans Wake,” and a self-scrawled manuscript of his poems, lie at the University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library.
These resources tell a story that, in the near metro, especially is celebrated by OU’s History of Science Collections: how people have thought through centuries, and how that thinking has changed.
In OU’s case, the collection exceeds 92,000 books, including 12 first-edition Galileos, four bearing his handwritten notes, allowing perusers to trace the scientist’s corrections as they were made in following editions.
“You just see the “¦ whole “¦ history of science and the history of culture right there in those books,” Ogilvie said. “Emily Jerman