Table of Contents

History Of Mathematics: Library Resources

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by

Comment Icon0 Math 3750
History of Mathematics

Comment Icon0 Resources on the History of Mathematics are, still, primarily located in books. There are some resources that can be found in periodicals (journals) and there are a smaller number that can be found online. It is worth noting that most of the primary literature in Mathematics, especially after 1800, is located in periodicals. Primary literature, in this case, refers to the mathematics itself, not the secondary history of it. One of the challenges in searching for materials on the history of mathematics is sorting through TONS of hits referencing the mathematics itself.

Comment Icon0 One of the primary methods for gathering sources for research in the history of Mathematics is the use of bibliographies (aka, citations, references). Bibliographies are most often found at the end of articles, chapters of books or at the end of the book itself. They are either the list of sources the author used in researching the book/chapter, the source of a quote that is used in the work, or they are general suggestions for further reading. In rare cases, there are whole books that are nothing but references to other works … think of these as early databases. Citations are not just limited to an old way of doing research. Even wikipedia now requires and provides valuable citations.

Comment Icon0 Finding books:

Comment Icon0 Go to and click on MaagNet (the first link under “Quick Links” on the left of the page. This lets you search for what is in the Maag book Collection. For an even larger selection, click on OhioLINK, the second link under “Quick Links”. In both Maagnet and OhioLINK click on “Advanced Keyword” (on the right of the Maagnet page

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Comment Icon0 and in the top middle of the OhioLINK page.

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Comment Icon0 The Advanced page lets you select multiple search terms targeting different fields in the record (e.g., author, title, subject). This is important in searching the history of mathematics.

Comment Icon0 Each search box is a pull down for the field and an entry for the term being searched (like a Google search box). One of the ways to quickly make your search more relevant is to enter “mathematics — history” (without the quotes) and in the pull-down on the left select “LC Subject Heading”. PLEASE NOTE: subject headings are precise terms and you must enter them exactly. In this case it is
MATHEMATICS space dash dash space HISTORY
The good news is that subject headings have similarities. So, the history of astronomy is “ASTRONOMY — HISTORY”, and etc. To find complete works of references you would enter “MATHEMATICS — BIBLIOGRAPHY” and to find biographies of famous people you might enter “MATHEMATICS — BIOGRAPHY”. LC, by the way, stands for the The Library of Congress.

Comment Icon0 The call number (where the book is located on the shelves) for Mathematics always begins with “QA” and the history of mathematics books are normally in the QA20’s. This works the same with the history of Astronomy (QB20’s), Physics (QC 20’s) and even general sciences (Q20’s). These books are on levels 5A and 6A. Book call numbers may be preceded with “Ref.” which means that they are in the reference collection on the main floor.

Comment Icon0 Books you select from OhioLINK will come to you at the Maag Circulation desk, typically 3-5 work days from your request. You will receive an e-mail when your OhioLINK book has arrived.


Comment Icon0 Journal/Periodical Articles

Comment Icon0 One of the best sources for journal articles in Mathematics, where the articles are also available on-line, is JSTOR ( ). Use the “advanced search” feature and in the drop down boxes for the search terms, use “item title” or “abstract”. If you use “full-text” you will get too many irrelevant hits.

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Comment Icon0 Another source for articles is MathSciNet . This is published by the American Mathematical Society and has downloadable versions of most of the articles listed. To get to MathSciNet got to and then select (on the left) Library Databases — by subject, then click on Mathematics. The click on MathSciNet. Once again to avoid irrelevant articles select either “title” or “review text” from the drop down boxes.

Comment Icon0 Finally, one can use the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center. go to and select Electronic Journal Center (EJC). When you go to the EJC Search page click either or both “More search boxes” or “show limit options” to get a more advanced search. All EJC articles are downloadable.

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1 Comment on the whole page

  1. Angela Spalsbury September 8, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Thanks for the directions to use MathSciNet. This is really helpful to me when I’m not on campus.

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