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Special Collections - Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library: Locked Case

A guide to the special collections at the Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library

Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library Locked Case

The Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library (Biosciences) rare book collection consists of some 3500 titles and approximately 7000 volumes. There are an additional 400 or so titles and about 1400 volumes from this collection stored in NRLF. The campus collection consists of materials selected by faculty and the Bioscience staff as items that require climate controlled conditions. This includes many materials in botany, zoology and paleontology  and historically important 18th century authors such as Buffon, Lamarck, John Ray, and Linnaeus.

The most important rare book collections include Darwin, The Challenger Expedition reports, The Banks Florilegium set, 19th c German and French physiology, California forestry and agriculture publications, and the Holl Cookbook Collection.

In the words of a former librarian, some of the unique collections are:

The Darwin collection.
Biosciences holds one of the most complete collections of the books published during Darwin's life, such as 17 volumes of the British and American editions of "The Origin..." (QH365.O7) and several first and early editions of Darwin's books published in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Danish, and more. All  translations are in NRLF.

The Darwin collection includes first editions of his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin's works (in the Bancroft Library), and such rarities as the selection of Darwin's letters published in 1838 by Prof Henslow for the Cambridge Philosophical Society. We also own a letter written by Darwin as well as one written by his wife, Emma.
Call Numbers: QH31.D2 cover an interesting collection of Darwinia, including correspondence between Kofoid and Darwin's British publisher, John Murray.

Biosciences has an essentially complete collection of works by Linnaeus (duplicated in the Bancroft Library).

The author/title catalog from the old Biology Library contains information on these authors. It is located near the Ref Desk, also use the online catalog, OskiCat.

The collection includes strong holdings in French and German 19th c. physiology, botany and zoology, and scientific expeditions (e.g. the complete reports from the Challenger expedition, the zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur, various US geographical surveys, etc.).

Kofoid Pamphlet Collection
The pamphlet collection consists of some 70,000 pamphlets and reprints that Charles Kofoid acquired during his 40-some years as a zoology professor at Berkeley. Some of the earliest materials date back to the 18th century, and many are from the 19th century. The most recent materials are from the late 1930s or early 1940s.

The collection includes the reprint and pamphlet collections of Sir Arthur Shipley, a noted British zoologist who died in 1928 and William Setchell, a UC Berkeley botany professor whose major research was on algae and who died in 1943. It is unclear how these two collections were added to the Kofoid pamphlet collection, although it is certain that Kofoid knew both. The Shipley collection materials date from 1833 to 1912, the Setchell from 1890 to 1935.

The call numbers for the Shipley and Setchell collections are QL3.S5 and QK564.5.S4. The Setchell materials are mostly in the University Herbaria Library; the Kofoid and Shipley mostly in NRLF. A few of the rarest materials are in Locked Case 1. The Kofoid call numbers are: QH301.A1P5 (and some Setchell), QH301.A1P6, QL366.A1P2, and QL757.A1P26.

Selected Treasures
These titles were selected to show the breadth of the collection.


k-QH365.O7. First edition of Origin of the Species. One of 1250 copies (BANC also has one).

k-F2636.F56 v.3. Researches in Geology and Natural History, Darwin's volume of the Voyage of the Beagle. It was very popular and later republished as Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology (QH11.D3).

fQL5.D3 v.3. Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle. Darwin supervised these volumes, v.3 is on birds with descriptions and illustrations by John Gould ('the English Audubon').

QH365.E95. Extracts of Darwin's letters to Prof. Henslow. Not of scientific interest but extremely rare. (5 copies listed in OCLC.)

k-QH31.D22.A5. Letter by Emma Darwin.

QH365.D251. Letter by Charles Darwin.

TX719.L52 1711 Le menage des champs, et le jardinier francois accomodezau gout du temps ... Liger, Louis. A quite arbitrary choice to show off the Holl Collection of Cookery. I almost chose the two-volume by Careme, but it's not in great shape.

k-R128.7.H18 Haller, Albrecht von, 1708-1777. Alberti v. Haller ... Opera minora emendata, aucta, et renovata ... I chose this to represent our impressive holdings in physiology and our lesser medicine collection. Haller was also known for his botanical work. (I did not show this in my April demo.)

fQL368.R2.H3 (one of the atlas volumes) Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich Philipp August, 1834-1919. Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) : eine Monographie. Haekel's illustrations are among the impressive of the 19th c. He was also the most devoted of Darwin's German followers, even to the point of drawing what he didn't see (although I don't think that true of this volume).

SB403.F5 Flore des serres et des Jardins de l'Europe, Annales Generales d'Horticulture. Almost any volume will do. I chose this title both because of the gorgeous hand-painted plates and because hort magazines like this were offering the first detailed descriptions of foreign plants. Curtis's Botanical Magazine (QK1.C8 LC 1) also offers great botanical illustrations. The earlier volumes of both offer the most impressive.

fSD536.H55 1957 Hough, Romeyn Beck, 1857-1924. Hough's encyclopaedia of American woods / by E. S. Harrar 1st ed, New York : R. Speller, 1957. I chose this to represent our forestry collections. I included the publisher because of the intersting history of the work. This is actually a 2nd edition. All 16 volumes of the wood samples were done but only the first 9 volumes of the accompanying text. Around 2003, I took a call asking if we'd be interested in the text for the rest of the volumes. It took a while to realize that I was talking to R. Speller himself. He was, if I remember correctly, 93 at the time.

fQE905.U57 Unger, F. (Franz), 1800-1870. Chloris protogaea. Beitrage zur flora der vorwelt, von F. Unger...1847. A random choice to represent the paleo collections, chosen mostly because of the quality of the plates.

fQK98.M64 flat Candolle, Alphonse de, 1806-1893. Calques des dessins de la flore du Mexique, de Mocino et Sesse qui ont servi de types d'especes dans le systema ou le prodromus. [Geneva, 1874] The rarest item we own. There are two copies in Mexico City and no others in N. America. (There used to be a book in Refe, bound in green, that describes this work.)

SB407.L66 1864 Lowe, E. J. (Edward Joseph), 1825-1900. Beautiful leaved plants : being a description of the most beautiful leaved plants in cultivation in this country1868. Chosen not only because of the lovely plates, but also because our copy comes from Charles Dickens's library (bookplate inside front cover).

QE710.C9 1834 Cuvier, Georges, baron, 1769-1832. Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, ou l'on retablit les caracteres de plusieurs animaux dont les revolutions du... 4. ed. 1834-36. I think I chose v.1 of the text and v.1 of the atlas. More paleo but chosen more for the fact that it's Cuvier, who in this work was the first to document the extintion of species.

k-QH45.B8 Buffon Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere : avec la description du Cabinet du roy. Paris : De l'Imprimerie royale, 1749. The first systematic natural history encyclopedia. The scattered annotations in v.1 are by Buffon himself (per Prof. Larson). BIOS used to have a 2nd copy of this (with the same annotations in another hand) that is now at BANC.

QK91.S7 1762 Linne, Carl von, 1707-1778. Caroli Linnae. Species plantarum, exhibentes plantas rite cognitas,ad genera relatas, cum... Editio secunda, aucta. 1762-1963. An arbitrary selection of a work by Linnaeus. BIOS has a nearly complete collection of his works (as does BANC).

QL463.R4 Reaumur, Rene-Antoine Ferchault de, 1683-1757. Memoires pour servir a l'histoire des insectes [1734]-1955. An example of our entomology collection. This was probably the most important 18th c work on insects. It includes the first proof that corals are animals, not plants (the term insect had a broader meaning then). His work on bees in these volumes may be the most important before that of Karl von Frisch. Reaumur also made major contributions to technology, math, and physiology.

k-QL805.C99 Cuvier, Georges, baron, 1769-1832. Lecons d'anatomie comparee de G. Cuvier. an VIII [1800]-an XIV.--1805. More physiology, this time to remind people that the next time they're in Paris, they should stop by the Musee d'Anatomie Comparee (in the Jardin des Plantes) and check out the very bones that are illustrated in this work. (And also to remind them that it was his work in comparative anatomy that allowed Cuvier to understand extinctions and the great age of the Earth--see his work above.)

QK617.S5 Mushrooms in their natural haibitats. Spectacular Technicolor 3-D images of mushrooms.


Using an Item from the Locked Case


REMINDER this is a RARE volume with strict regulations on its use.  Please check with a librarian to see if a reprint, another edition, or online access is available.

The Library grants permission to use rare books to responsible users, subject to the following regulations:

Rare books are for Library Use Only.  A picture ID is held while you use the book.

Rare books must be used at the designated table near the reference desk and only when a reference librarian is on duty (check hours on Library's website).

Only one volume may be used at a time.

All rare books must be handled with extreme care:

  • Support the volume using the pillows or cradle provided.      
  • Do not force the volume open wide.
  • You will be asked to wear gloves provided by the Library when using a rare book. Return the gloves when you return the book to the reference librarian.
  • Use caution to ensure that any loose pages or plates remain in order.


  • Do not mark, fold, press, trace, erase or handle items in any way likely to cause damage.
  • Do not place the book face down. Never put another book on top of an open volume.
  • Do not trace or make rubbings from rare materials, or mark them in any way.
  • Do not fold tear or cut documents.
  • Use of "Post-it-Notes," tape, fasteners, rubber bands, or paper clips is prohibited.
  • Do not write in books.  Use Pencil Only.  No pens should be used near a rare book.
  • Use only acid free bookmarks provided to you by library staff.

Your cooperation will ensure that this valuable &  irreplaceable volume will survive as long as possible.  Thank you.

No photocopying of rare books is allowed. In order to preserve this book for future use and protect its pages and binding

Special provisions may be made (if approved by a librarian) with the Interlibrary Services, Photoduplication Service for reproduction quality prints, slides, negatives, etc. from rare books. Inquire with a librarian for details. Please see the Library's Permission Policy, below:

Permission Policy

The UC Berkeley Library (including the Doe and Moffitt libraries, subject specialty libraries, The Bancroft Library, and the C. V. Starr East Asian Library) encourage and support research, teaching, and scholarship to advance global knowledge and understanding. Please see our Permissions Policies page for inquiries about obtaining permission to quote/excerpt or republish materials from Library collections.