Historic Rare Book Collection "UnVailed"

Posted May 25th, 2010 by Heather Denny

A bookplate featuring the portrait of Theodore N. Vail, who donated the collection to MIT in 1912.

Records for the Vail Collection – one of the world’s foremost rare book collections on electricity, electrical engineering, magnetism, and lighter-than-air travel – are beginning to appear in Barton, the Libraries’ online catalog.  This historic collection comprises some 25,000 volumes and includes materials dating as far back as the mid-16th century, but it’s been hidden for decades because electronic catalog records hadn’t been created.

A generous gift from Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (Class of 1957) has made it possible to fully catalog the Vail Collection, and perform essential conservation work.

As these materials are cataloged they can be explored via the Vail RSS page which has a listing of Vail titles (with links to Barton catalog records), or by subscribing to the Vail Collection RSS feed.  Due to the delicate nature of these materials they cannot be checked out, but are available for room use in the Institute Archives.

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