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Rare Book Collection

Former IIHR Director Hunter Rouse assembled a fine collection of books on the history of hydraulics.

Former IIHR Director Hunter Rouse assembled a fine collection of books on the history of hydraulics.

IIHR’s History of Hydraulics (HOH) collection has been called one of the best scholarly collections of historic hydraulics books in existence. More than 500 volumes spanning the past 2,000 years are included, with an emphasis on scientific (rather than applied) hydraulics. The collection includes both reprints and original publications, some of which are quite rare.

Assembling the HOH Collection

The majority of the books were obtained between 1953 and 1976 by former IIHR Director Hunter Rouse, with the assistance of University of Iowa bibliographer Frank Hanlin. Rouse formed the comprehensive collection largely as an aid to his own historical research and writing. He also intended the collection to be used actively by other scholars, including his own graduate students. Indeed, Rouse required that all graduate students conduct research and prepare scholarly papers based on this collection.

Rouse summarizes this history of hydraulics and tells about his book collecting activities in his article, “Highlights in the History of Hydraulics.

Hunter Rouse, founder of the History of Hydraulics collection.

Hunter Rouse, founder of the History of Hydraulics collection.

Using the HOH Collection

IIHR is pleased to make this collection available to scholars of hydraulics or the history of science and technology. The collection must be used on site at the University of Iowa’s Special Collections in the Main Library, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Because of the fragility and value of many of the books, they are not available through conventional lending systems. Inquiries regarding the collection and its use may be directed to IIHR Archivist Jackie Stolze (phone: 319-335-6410) or to Special Collections (e-mail or phone: 319-335-5921).

Historical Graphics

HOH books contain many intricate and beautiful graphics. As a service to hydraulicians and fluid mechanicians, selected historical graphics are included in this website (see the “Books” section below). You are invited to incorporate these graphics as appropriate into lectures and scholarly publications. Contact IIHR for high-resolution scans available for reprinting for teaching purposes. When duplicating or using for any purpose, please cite the IIHR History of Hydraulics Collection, in addition to the specific book.

Books in the Collection

A complete list of publications, including brief book descriptions, has been published in Historic Writings on Hydraulics: A Catalogue of the History of Hydraulics Collection in the University of Iowa Libraries (Rouse, 1984). This book may be ordered for $15 from IIHR.

A sampling of authors whose work is included in the HOH collection follows:

Aristotle Leonardo da Vinci Jean Bernoulli
Archimedes Galileo Galilei Daniel Bernoulli
Philo of Byzantium Robert Fulton Jean Lerond d’Alembert
Hero of Alexandria Blaise Pascal Leonhard Euler


Please let us know if you have enjoyed this website, and if you have used any of the graphics for teaching, publication, or other purposes. Would you like to see the list expanded? What kind of graphics would be useful to you? E-mail: Jackie Stolze; phone: 319-335-6410 with any comments or questions.

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Last modified on May 30th, 2019
Posted on March 11th, 2011

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