My research will focus on the extensive mathematical book collection of the Russell Library, specifically on publications of the 17th and 18th centuries, including a number of works in that collection originating from the former Irish College at Salamanca. The main aim of this research will be to gather essential reference material required for the completion of the book project 'Mathematical Book Histories – Printing, Provenance, and Practices of Reading' which I am editing with Ciarán Mac an Bhaird for Birkhäuser Verlag.
Each of the twelve commissioned chapters of our book explores the history of one or more volumes in the mathematical book collection by taking a closer look at previous locations and owners, and at ways in which annotations, underlinings, hand-drawn diagrams and the like reveal patterns of reading and usage. This is an innovative undertaking in the history of mathematics, leading to the enthusiastic response on the part of the publisher when presented with the book proposal. It is hoped that the publication will elicit new insights not only into ways early modern mathematical books were used, but also into the historical role of mathematics in the extensive network of Irish colleges that once covered Catholic Europe, while at the same time providing further information on the rich book trade that flourished in seventeenth and early eighteenth-century Dublin, the probable source of the large number of French mathematical volumes in the Russell Library.
Philip Beeley is a Research Fellow and Tutor, Faculty of History, University of Oxford; Fellow of Linacre College. The focus of his research and publications is on correspondence networks and the history of mathematics in the seventeenth century.