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In 2003, Prof. Ted Hill donated approximately 1000 volumes of rare printed books and manuscripts to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. This collection documents the history of arithmetic and mathematics in the United States from the colonial period to the end of the 19th century, and more than half of the texts predate 1850.

 

Description of Collection

The collection is called the "Theodore P. Hill Collection of Early American Mathematics Books", and consists of approximately 1000 volumes of rare printed books and manuscripts documenting the history of arithmetic and mathematics in the United States from the colonial period to the end of the 19th century.

More than half of the texts predate 1850, and many are leather bound. The highlights of the collection include many cornerstone editions – the only known copy of Fenning’s 1789 Ready Reckoner; Chauncy Lee’s 1797 The American Accomptant, with the first appearance of the dollar sign; Daboll’s 1802 Schoolmaster’s Assistant, which presented the first printed instance of the six-percent rule; Farrar’s 1825 Elementary Treatise on Mathematics, a curriculum-altering work; and the first American printing of Newton’s Principia.

In addition to these published texts, the collection also includes a number of copybooks (manuscripts written by pupils who could not afford to buy textbooks) of the earliest vintage possible, now seen as valuable not only for being the actual work of pupils in the process of learning, but also as singular works of art.

Selected works from the collection were featured in the 2005 Bancroft Library's Exhibit "Creators, Teachers and Practitioners of the Mathematical Sciences".

Early American Math Books

Ted Hill with David Farrell, University Archivist, UC Berkeley

To see the Library catalog of the collection: click here for Bancroft Library Oskicat catalog. In the box next to "Keywords" or "Title", enter: Theodore P. Hill Collection of Early American Mathematics Books

To contact us, please send email to: earlyamericanmathbooks@gmail.com.