The World Inventory of Historical Scientific Instruments – The Polish Contribution

Ewa Wyka

Abstrakt

The article is devoted to a project carried out after the Second World War by historians of science whose aim was to explore the world heritage of historical scientific instruments. The article presents the results of research whose purpose was to learn the methods of implementation and the results of compiling an inventory of historical scientific instruments preserved in Poland after World War II.

The Commission pour l’inventaire mondial des appareils scientifiques d’intérêt historique (the Commission for the World Inventory of Scientific Instruments) was founded in 1956 at the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science in Paris – the Division of the History of Science. The aim of the Commission was to coordinate work on the implementation of a world inventory of historical scientific instruments. The concept of the inventory card was prepared, and the criteria for the selection of historical instruments for the inventory and deadlines for the project were set. Members from at least 29 countries participated in the works of the Commission. The project was implemented by European science and technology museums and national academies of sciences. The collected data was recorded on index cards which were prepared, among others, by French, Italian, Belgian, Czech, and Polish researchers. A Russian catalogue was published. In Poland in 1959–1963, work on the inventory was conducted by the Department of History of Science and Technology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Queries were commissioned to Tadeusz Przypkowski, a science historian, collector, and expert on gnomonics. For the world inventory, he selected about one hundred of the most valuable science objects from the collections of Polish museums and other institutions. Nearly 20% of those were gnomonic objects, the remaining part consisted of astronomical instruments, pharmacy instruments and individual objects pertaining to other fields of science. Works on the national inventory of historical scientific instruments were also carried out under the guidance of Przypkowski. The preserved documents do not allow us to determine at what stage these works stopped. Currently, the project ‘National inventory of historical scientific instruments’ is being implemented at the L. & A. Birkenmajer Institute for the History of Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences. It aims to create an electronic database of historical scientific instruments which have been preserved in Polish museums. The project has been financed by the National Science Centre Poland (Research project: OPUS 13 No. 2017/25/B/HS3/01829).

Słowa kluczowe: historyczne przyrządy naukowe, zbiory muzealne, światowy inwentarz instrumentów naukowych, polskie kolekcje instrumentów naukowych, Tadeusz Przypkowski, Narodowe Centrum Nauki Polska
References

Archival and manuscript sources

Archiwum Rodziny Przypkowskich, Muzeum im. Przypkowskich w Jędrzejowie,

(Archive of The Przypkowski Family, The Przypkowski Museum in Jędrzejów): Folder Sprawy katalogu przyrządów naukowych. Rok 1960. Listy Tadeusza i fot. przyrządów naukowych (Matters of the catalogue of scientific instruments. 1960. Letters of Tadeusz and photographs of scientific instruments) – Folder Światowy Inwentarz Zabytkowych Przyrządów Naukowych (World Inventory of Historical Scientific Instruments); Tadeusz Przypkowski, Autobiografia (Autobiography), undated typescript, sig. B. 3636; Tadeusz Przypkowski, Sprawozdanie z podróży naukowych latem 1958 roku dr. Tadeusza Przypkowskiego z Jędrzejowa, (Report on scientific journeys in the summer of 1958, by Dr. Tadeusz Przypkowski from Jędrzejów), undated typescript.

The Science Museum’s Dana Research Centre and Library in London: Commission pour l’inventaire mondial des appareils scientifiques d’interet historique. Polish national inventory of scientific instruments, microfilm no. B. 28; Contribution tchecoslovaque à l’inventaire, microstrip, 1970.

 

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