Books Online

Most books available here are in the Public Domain unless otherwise noted, and are therefore free to download, use, re-use, and re-mix without regard to copyright. Due to the nature of library collections however, it can be difficult to determine copyright status. If you are a rights holder or have additional information about books available on our website, please let us know. For more information see our copyright and reuse page.

Explore Books Online

Sidereus nuncius

When Galileo first turned the newly invented telescope to the heavens, this became the first printed account of his new discoveries.

Prodromus in systema historicum testaceorum

Though this 1801 edition is a re-issue of Spalowsky's 1795 title, it is still among the rarest of published books on shells.

Ornithologie

This volume, also known as "Histoire des oiseaux peints dans tous" contains beautiful hand colored engravings of birds by François Nicolas Martinet.

The Electrical experimenter

This popular technology magazine edited by Hugo Gernsback ran from 1913 to 1920 and included science fiction stories as well as a series of articles by Nikola Tesla.

Bijutsukai

This monthly magazine from the turn of the 20th c. contains beautiful design patterns from contemporary Japanese artists. In Japanese with English captions.

Report on the ENIAC (Electronic numerical integrator and computer)

Manual and schematics for the first general-purpose electronic computer built in the mid 1940s.

Historia plantarum v 1

In this seminal work of taxonomic botany, John Ray describes some 18,000 plants and set up the species as the basic unit of taxonomy.

Scrapbook of early aeronautica

Collection of prints,clippings, and ephemera from the early years of aeronautics (1780s-1840s) assembled by William Upcott.

The New York coach-maker's magazine

Begun in June, 1858 it was "Devoted to the Literary, Social and Mechanical interests of the Craft" of making horse-drawn vehicles.

Cultivating America's Gardens

image of lawn bordered by spring flowers

American garden-making has evolved over time, shaped by history, social attitudes, the environment, and new ideas. The books in this collection illustrate this history and complement the exhibition Cultivating America's Gardens produced by the Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens.

Japanese Illustrated Books from the Edo and Meiji Periods

woodcut print with 18th century Japanese citizens crossing a bridgeThis collection of woodblock printed works of art from the Freer|Sackler Library includes over 1,000 volumes, many by famous artists such as Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai.  

A sitting woman gestures outward while holding the arm of a soldier with his eyes wrapped in gauze, snow covered mountains are behind them.The Great War

The Great War profoundly changed not just the geopolitical landscape of Europe, but also an entire generation as well as affecting the culture, economics, politics, and technology of countries outside the immediate combatants. 

A colored engraving of Sir Isacc Newton, dressed in typical late 1800's clothes, stands by a window whose shutters are closed. He holds a prism in the light from a hole that is projected across the room to appear as a rainbow on the back of a chair. Color in a New Light

From chemistry to couture, feathers to physics, color is a topic that links science, history, art and culture. This collection includes books featured in the exhibition "Color in a new Light" as well as rare and interesting titles from across the Libraries collections that reveal the many ways we use, understand, and see color.

Heralds of Science

title page of Regiomontanus' Epytoma...de Almagestu[m] Ptolomei

In 1955 Bern Dibner, the noted science book collector and founder of the Burndy Library, published Heralds of Science as Represented by Two Hundred Epochal Books and Pamphlets Selected from the Burndy Library.  To construct the list, Dibner selected two hundred items he owned that “proclaimed new truths or hypotheses in science.”