Digital Collections


The Science History Institute's Digital Collections offer highlights from our library, archives, and museum collections. Our chronology ranges from the Roman Empire to the 21st century, and the materials include everything from fine art to rare books and from scientific objects to photographs.

The purpose of our Digital Collections is to manage, preserve, and provide access to our digital assets all in one location. Although the Digital Collections include only a small portion of our entire collection, new material is added every day. See the Institute's Collections page for more information about our library, archives, and museum.


Possession of a digital reproduction of the Institute’s collection materials does not constitute permission to publish, exhibit, or distribute. In most instances the Institute does not hold the copyright to its materials and cannot grant or deny permission to use them. The Institute staff will make every effort to inform patrons of copyrights and other restrictions that may apply to the works being reproduced. However, patrons are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials they wish to use, investigating the owner of the copyright, and obtaining permission for the intended use.

The U.S. Copyright Law contains an exception for the so-called fair use of copyrighted materials for the purposes of teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. Patrons are solely responsible for determining whether their intended use of a copyrighted work is fair and responding to any claims of copyright infringement that may arise from use of the material. For more information on copyright and fair use, please refer to the U.S. Copyright Office website.

You may need to obtain other permissions for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy or moral rights may limit how you may use the material.

Questions regarding the rights of our digital reproductions may be directed to

Technical Summary

The Digital Collections are built on an open-source technology stack based on Ruby on Rails, postgres, Solr, and blacklight. All of our code is freely available on GitHub via an Apache 2.0 license. We have also created the kithe gem as shareable toolkit for Rails apps that would like to take a similar architectural approach. We have information available on machine-readable/API access to our content.


We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and Robert W. Gore. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant SP-02-16-0014-16.