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Finding Aid to the Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich Papers, 1711-1787
BANC MSS 72/238 cz  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich papers
    Date (inclusive): 1711-1787
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 72/238 cz
    Creators : Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787
    Extent: Number of containers: 5 cartons, 2 volumes Linear feet: 6.45
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich Papers, 1711-1787, consist of correspondence and scientific papers relating to astronomy, mathematics, mechanics, philosophy, theology, hydropgraphy, and optics. Also included are biographical materials, notes on the work of other scientists and diary fragments.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in Italian, Latin, English, French, and Serbo-Croatian
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich Papers, BANC MSS 72/238 cz, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Selected portions: 20 microfilm reels: negative (Rich. 619:1-20) and positive. Part 2, Giuseppe Goretti Falmini correspondence, 1765-1786 : also available on microfilm.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787--Archives
    Priestley, Joseph, 1733-1804
    Lalande, Joseph Jerome Le Francais de, 1732-1807
    Frisi, Paolo, 1728-1784
    Lagrange, J. L. (Joseph Louis), 1736-1813
    Beccaria, Giambatista, 1716-1781. Correspondence--Selections

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich Papers were purchased by The Bancroft Library in 1962.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by the Bancroft Library staff.

    Biographical Information

    Rudjer Josip Boscovich, Yugoslavian mathematician and natural philosopher, was born in Dalmatia at Ragusa on May 18, 1711. In 1725, at the age of fifteen, he entered the Society of Jesus, beginning his studies in mathematics and physics at Collegio Romano, the preeminent Jesuit college. After completing his novitiate in 1740, Boscovich was appointed professor of mathematical science at the Collegio where he continued to teach for twenty years, publishing many dissertations on topics such as sunspots, the Aurora Borealis, the effects of gravity, and the transit of Mercury.
    He soon became well known all over Europe and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. His prominence as a mathematician earned him commissions from Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 to reinforce the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica and to survey the meridian of the Papal States. It is widely believed that it was due to Boscovich's influence that the same Pope removed Copernicus from the Index of Forbidden Books.
    He is credited with developing the first description of atomic theory, which was published in his principal work: Philosophiae Naturalis Theoria redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium, or A Theory of Natural Philosophy Reduced to a Single Law of the Actions Existing in Nature.
    Boscovich was appointed chair of mathematics at the University of Pavia in 1764. While still holding this position, he was invited by the Jesuits in Milan to erect an observatory at their college at Brera, where he eventually became director. In 1769 the London Academy offered to send Boscovich to lead an expedition to California to observe the transit of Venus, but the Suppression of the Jesuits by enemies of the church in Europe made this an impossibility.
    In 1772, he was invited by King Louis XV to become director of optics for the navy in Paris, a position he held for over ten years. Although he had become a naturalized citizen of France, he returned to Italy in 1783 continuing his scientific and literary work. Boscovich died in Milan in 1787.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich Papers, 1711-1787, consist of correspondence and scientific papers relating to astronomy, mathematics, mechanics, philosophy, theology, hydropgraphy, and optics. Also included are biographical materials, notes on the work of other scientists and diary fragments.
    The papers were arranged in the 1920s by Yugoslavian scholar Dr. Branimir Truhelka while the collection was still in private hands. This arrangement, as well as the item numbers designated by Truhelka, have been retained by The Bancroft Library.
    The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence between Boscovich and his family and colleagues, including many of 18th Century Italy's most eminent mathematicians and scientists such as Giovanni Battista Beccaria, Paolo Frisi, Stefano Conti, Joseph Priestley, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Joseph Jerome LaLande, and Benedetto Stay.
    Many handwritten manuscripts are included. These have been divided into ten subjects: astronomy, philology, philosophy, natural philosophy, geodesy, hydrography, mathematics, mechanics, optics, and poetry. Of note are a commentary on Benedetto Stay's Philosophiae Recentioris and a paper on mechanics, "De viribus vivis," a discussion of the law of continuity.
    With the exception of some biographical materials and commentaries, nearly the entire collection has been microfilmed and is available at The Bancroft Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb. Items not microfilmed are indicated in the container listing.
    For a more detailed description of the Boscovich Papers, refer to Roger Hahn's paper "The Boscovich Archives at Berkeley," a copy of which can be found in this collection.