Library Envy, 1920: Why? Why? Why?

This from the early library records: Physicist H.A. Wilson, having just visited the library at the University of Texas, bemoans Rice’s inability to locate full runs of the German journal Annalen der Physik: 

New HA Wilson library letter 1

New HA Wilson library letter 2

I alternate between sympathy for Wilson and sympathy for Miss Dean, who was surely beset on all sides. I also note that a quick perusal of the Fondren catalog indicates that we never did get those volumes. On the other hand, it took less than five minutes on the internet to find exactly what Professor Wilson was looking for.

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2 Responses to Library Envy, 1920: Why? Why? Why?

  1. almadenmike says:

    Indeed, all the Annalen der Physik journal articles dating back to 1799 (!!) are available online … but each costs $6 to “rent” (read), $15 via “cloud” (also just read-only) and $38 to download a pdf that can be saved or and printed. (Example: )

    I also suspect that this was long before today’s oh-so-modern practice of responding to such a request by asking for the professor’s budget charge account number.

  2. Edward Summers '59 says:

    We tend to forget how important and dominant German science and technology were a century ago… and how difficult reproductions were. The WWI years no doubt meant very few copies of ANY German publication came to our shores and an eight-year -old institution on a limited budget simply could not afford to acquire the few copies available. Today it is a different story…

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