Books Online

The Smithsonian Libraries' physical collections cover subjects ranging from Art to Zoology and everything in between - a diversity that reflects the research that goes on at the Smithsonian in our Museums, Zoological Park and Research Centers.

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 edition is an 1801 re-issue of Spalowsky's book, originally published in 1795, it is 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, newspaper clippings, and printed ephemera connected with 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.

Celebrating African American History & Culture

Cover of Poems of Cabin and Field by Paul Lawrence DunbarContaining material from almost every branch of the Libraries, including our new location in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this collection celebrates the opening of our newest Smithsonian museum and showcases some of the public domain material we hold that supports research on the African American experience. 

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.” 

Publications of the Freer and Sackler

Cover of Freer Gallery of Art Occasional Papers : A Freer Stela Reconsidered

Scholarly publications primarily on Asian Art History published by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, spanning topics from ancient Egypt to James McNeill Whistler. This collection includes the Freer Occasional Papers - original series (1947- 71) and selections from more recent titles published in the early 2000's.

Bijutsukai
Historia plantarum
The Bicycling world and motorcycle review
Historia plantarum
The Photographic and fine art journal
Le garde-meuble
Prodromus in systema historicum testaceorum
Le Costume ancien et moderne
Gallery
Coloritto, or, The harmony of colouring in painting...
Boyd's directory of the District of Columbia
Anpao kin =
Spalding's base ball guide, and official league book
Ornithologie
Kleines Distillierbuch
Plans, elevations, sections, and details of the Alhambra
Plans, elevations, sections, and details of the Alhambra
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London.
Aeronautics
Ad clarissimum virum D. Ioannem Schonerum, De libris reuolutionu[m] eruditissimi viri, & mathematici excellentissimi, Reuerendi D. Doctoris Nicolai Copernici ... per quendam Iuuenem, mathematicae studiosum Narratio prima
Report on the ENIAC (Electronic numerical integrator and computer)
The Electrical experimenter
De la pirotechnia
Experiments and observations on electricity
Radio-activity
Hey diddle diddle and Baby bunting
Cristiani Hugenii Zulichemii, Const. f. Systema Saturnium
Epytoma Ioa[n]nis de Mo[n]te Regio in Almagestu[m] Ptolomei
Petri Peregrini Maricurtensis De magnete, seu, Rota perpetui motus, libellus ...
The Freer Chinese bronzes
[Commonplace book concerning science and mathematics]
Electric vehicles
Ma lune
The battle song of liberty
The sceptical chymist or, Chymico-physical doubts & paradoxes
The New York coach-maker's magazine
Keramic studio
Scrapbook of early aeronautica
Sidereus nuncius