First edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia now at the Burns Library!

The Burns Library is lucky enough to have not one but two different editions of Newton’s famous work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, otherwise known as Principia).  As noted in this article from the Summer 2010 Boston College Magazine, the Burns Library just acquired the first edition (published in 1687) of the Principia in January 2010.

The Burns Library also owns an interesting re-print of the second edition of the Principia, which features a section on Newton’s system of calculus at the end – thus making this 1723 edition the first time that Newton’s calculus and his Principia were published together.  If you don’t read Latin then read this English translation online (through the Internet Archive) or look at Andrew Motte’s English translation at the O’Neill Library (O’Neill Stacks QA803 .N413 1995).

Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton (1723) Published in 1723 in Amsterdam

Title page from the 1723 edition of Newton’s Principia, QA803 .A2 1723 RARE. 

In addition to Newton’s Principia, the Burns Library also owns early scientific books by Kircher, Galileo and Schott.

Please contact the Burns Library Reading Room ( or 617-552-4861) if you are interested in learning more about our early scientific works or looking at any of these books in the Reading Room.

For those of you who are reading from afar and can’t visit the Burns Reading Room, check out this website by Babson College.  Babson College has digitized the first, second and third editions of the Principia as part of their Grace K. Babson Collection. The Newton Project, sponsored by the University of Sussex, is also a wonderful website that features Newton’s manuscripts as well as his published works.

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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One Response to First edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia now at the Burns Library!

  1. Have discovered your web blog via bing the other day and absolutely love it. Keep up the truly great work.

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