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.

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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.


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.


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.

Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect

collage of people and scientific and botanical drawings The Smithsonian Libraries has long benefited from the generosity of book collectors who have helped build our world-class museum library system. This exhibition tells the captivating stories of the book collectors whose diverse interests and passions helped shape—and continue to contribute to—the Smithsonian Libraries

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Early and Notable Editions

Book Cover: Uncle Tom's CabinUncle Tom’s Cabin, one of the most influential books in American history, was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) to inform readers of the appalling realities of American slavery. First published in March 1852, the novel quickly became an international bestseller, second only in sales at that time to the Bible.

The Rare Books of Abecedarium

Illuminated letters on the Cover of a square book Part history, part coloring book, and part guide to historic books, the Smithsonian Libraries’ Abecedarium: An Adult Coloring Book for Bibliophiles is a contemplative and inspiring way to experience art, science, and culture from the Renaissance through early modern times

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.  

Heralds of Science

title page of Regiomontanus' 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.”