Newton’s Principia


William & Mary will soon be home of one of history’s most famous trees. Well, at least a very close relative. This Saturday, February 22, the College of William & Mary will accept the first of three apple trees grafted from a descendant of the purported apple tree that inspired Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation. The gift comes to us from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is connected to William & Mary is through its founder and W&M alumnus, William Barton Rogers.

Newton holds a special place for us here in Special Collections, as we have our very own 1st edition copy of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, otherwise known simply as the Principia.

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College Airport

College AirportThe College Airport was located on Airport Rd which runs perpendicular to Richmond Rd and Mooretown Rd. (click on image for larger view)  At the time of construction in the early 1930s, it was suggested that the airport be named “Benjamin Ewell Field” after the former College president who owned a farm nearby.  It was only used for a few years in the early 1930’s to teach flying to students.

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Making Sense of Chaos

William & Mary Commencement Program, 1926Tasked with processing the Rosina Bowers Papers series of the Hamilton Family Papers, I opened two boxes of photographs and papers as one would expect to find them in someone’s home, rather than what you would expect in the stacks of an archive. I had two initial reactions to the yet unprocessed collection. I felt privileged to work with such intimate family items, but overwhelmed. Ordinarily, when processing a collection, an archivist considers the original organization of the collection upon its arrival. So how does one go about processing two boxes of undated, unidentified photographs and personal papers that lack any organization?

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A clandestine edition of Galileo’s Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, 1710

Title page of Galilei, Galileo, Lorenzo Ciccarelli, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, and Johannes Kepler. 1710. Dialogo di Galileo Galilei ... RB QB41 .G13Earlier this semester we displayed a selection of Special Collections’ early modern science books for a group of students and faculty. Among the exhibited volumes was a copy of the second Italian edition of Galileo Galilei’s Dialogo or Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, published in 1710.

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