Archives and Special Collections

Mathematical Association Library

Mathematical Association Collections

The library of The Mathematical Association (MA) comprises nearly 11,000 books and 400 runs of periodicals from many different countries. The collection covers mathematics, its teaching, history and popularisation, and is particularly rich in its coverage of school and university mathematics textbooks of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The collection also includes over 1,100 older or rarer items going back to the sixteenth century. The Library as a whole is a unique primary source for the history of the mathematics curriculum in the United Kingdom.

Among the treasures of the collection are rich holdings of editions of Euclid up to the nineteenth century. The earliest of these is a copy of the first printed Greek language edition of Elements (1533). There are also two copies of Oliver Byrne's rare edition of the First six books of the elements of Euclid (1847). Other highlights include C. F. Gauss Disquisitiones arithmeticae (1801), and the collected works of Apollonius, Johann Bernoulli, Fermat, Laplace, Pascal and Wallis, and the largely complete works of Babbage, De Morgan, Hutton, Lacroix, Lagrange and Newton. Eighteenth-century holdings include four copies of De Moivre’s pioneering Doctrine of Chances (1738 and 1756 editions).

The John Hersee Collection 

A further significant holding is the John Hersee Collection of mathematical exercise books. One of the largest collections of its type, it contains nearly 300 volumes dating from 1704 to the 20th century. The exercise books are mainly concerned with mathematics but some include other subjects such as writing, poetry, music, history, scripture and geography. The range of mathematics is restricted to elementary topics: predominantly arithmetic and mensuration but also some geometry, trigonometry and algebra, and applications, particularly commerce and accounting, but also gauging (excise measurements), surveying and navigation. The collection was donated to the Mathematical Association in 2004. 

Related collections

The Wittgenstein papers of Francis Skinner are currently on short-term loan to Trinity College Cambridge. See the catalogue of the papers of Francis Skinner held at Trinity College, Cambridge.

How to search 

All published books and periodicals from the MA Library can be found via Library Search. You can limit your search results to MA collection items in Special Collections by scrolling down the right hand side of the screen and selecting the Local Collections filter for Mathematical Association. 

How to access

MA books stored on open shelves can be found in the Blue Zone on Floor 1 of the David Wilson Library. Periodical runs are housed on open shelves in the Basement. Material held in Special Collections is open to all and can be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our Access our collections page.

Further information

For more information, visit the Mathematical Association website, or contact the Mathematical Association Librarian

See how to access material held in the University of Leicester

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