Selected Readings

The NOAA Central Library houses a special archive of more than 5,000 rare historical books. Many of these date to the 18th and 19th Centuries, and some are even earlier. This collection includes works from the archive that have special significance to the historical record of ocean exploration. The collection is divided chronologically into three eras: pre-1846, 1846-1922, and 1923-1945. Each entry includes the author, title, publication information, year of publication, significance to ocean exploration, and NOAA Central Library call number.

Pre 1846
1846-1922
1923-1945

 

1807-1845

Author:
Boyle, Robert
Title:
Tracts consisting of observations about the saltness of the sea: an account of a statical hygroscope and its uses: together with an appendix about the force of the air's moisture: a fragment about the natural and preternatural state of bodies / by the Honourable Robert Boyle; to all which is premis'd a sceptical dialogue about the positive or privative nature of cold; with some experiments of Mr. Boyle's referr'd to in that discourse by a member of the Royal Society
Publisher:
London: Printed by E. Flesher for R. Davis, Bookseller in Oxford
Year:
1674
Significance:
One of the first treatises on chemical oceanography
Call Number:
Q155.B68 1674

 


 

Author:
Vancouver, George, 1757-1798
Title:
A voyage of discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and round the world in which the coast of north-west America has been carefully examined and accurately surveyed, undertaken by His Majesty's command, principally with a view to ascertain the existence of any navigable communication between the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, and performed in the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795, in the Discovery sloop of war, and armed tender Chatham, under the command of Captain George Vancouver ...
Publisher:
London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson
Year:
1798
Significance:
George Vancouver disproved any possibility of a Northwest Passage at a temperate latitude; surveyed much of the northwest coast of North America
Call Number:
G420.V22 1798, 3 vol.

 

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1846-1922

Author:
Wilkes, Charles, 1798-1877
Title:
Narrative of the United States exploring expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. By Charles Wilkes ... With illustrations and maps. In five volumes...
Publisher:
Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard
Year:
1845
Significance:
The U.S. Congress sent an exploring expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas from 1838-1842 to enhance the country's commerce and science, and to compete with famous British and French explorers.
Call Number:
Q115.U48 1845, 5 vol.

 


 

Author:
Higginson, Francis, b. 1799
Title:
The ocean, its unfathomable depths and natural phenomena : comprising authentic narratives and strange reminiscences of enterprise, delusion, and delinquency : with the voyage and discoveries of Her Majesty's Ship Cyclops
Publisher:
London: Edward Stanford ...,
Year:
1857
Significance:
Account of attempt to lay down a transatlantic cable.
Call Number:
GC87.2.G7 D4

 


 

Author:
Dayman, Joseph
Title:
Deep sea soundings in the north Atlantic Ocean between Ireland and Newfoundland : made in H.M.S. Cyclops, Lieut.-Commander Joseph Dayman, in June and July 1857.
Publisher:
London: Eyre and Spottiswoode
Year:
1859
Significance:
Published posthumously. Espoused concept that life did not exist below 300 fathoms.
Call Number:
GC87.2.G7 D4 1858

 


 

Author:
Edward Forbes, 1815-1854
Title:
The natural history of the european seas
Publisher:
London: John Van Voorst
Year:
1858
Significance:
Published posthumously. Espoused concept that life did not exist below 300 fathoms.
Call Number:
QH135.F67 1859

 


 

Author:
Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867
Title:
Gulf Stream explorations. Third memoir, Distribution of temperature in the water of the Florida channel and straits
Publisher:
From the American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. XXIX, March 1860, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Year:
1860
Significance:
Results of Coast Survey's gulf stream explorations up until 1860.
Call Number:
GC296.G9B33 1860

 


 

Author:
Aggasiz, Louis
Title:
Report upon deep-sea dredgings in the Gulf Stream during the third cruise of the United States Steamer BIBB. Fauna of the submarine zones; reef zone; sedimentary zone; coral slope of living cretacean types; floor of foraminiferine mud; geological inferences; inclination of the reefs; pot holes; formation of oolithic, amorphous, and compact limestones; embryology of corals and formation of colonies by disk embranchment; extinct forms representing modern developmental transitions; lines to be dredged, Appendix No. 10, Report of the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey for 1869, p. 208-219
Publisher:
Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office
Year:
1872
Significance:
Report of dredging work done by the Coast Survey's Louis Francois Pourtales, who came to America with Louis Agassiz
Call Number:
QB296.U5 1869

 


 

Author:
Belknap, George E. (George Eugene), 1832-1903
Title:
Deep-sea soundings in the North Pacific Ocean, obtained in the United States Steamer Tuscarora
Publisher:
Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office
Year:
1874
Significance:
First use of Thomson wiresounding instrument was on the Tuscarora.
Call Number:
GC75.B45 1874

 


 

Author:
Thomson, C. Wyville (Charles Wyville), Sir, 1830-1882
Title:
The voyage of the Challenger: the Atlantic: a preliminary account of the general results of the exploring voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the year 1873 and the early part of the year 1876
Publisher:
New York : Harper & Brothers
Year:
1878
Significance:
The voyage of the Challenger was the first global oceanographic expedition
Call
Number:Q115.C59 1878 2 vol.

 


 

Author:
Pourtales, L. F.
Title:
List of publications relating to the deep-sea investigations carried on in the vicinity of the coasts of the United States under the auspices of the Coast Survey Appendix No. 23, Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey for 1876, p. 407-409
Publisher:
Washington: Government Printing Office
Year:
1879
Significance:
List of Coast Survey publications from 1850-1870 relating the agency's explorations of the depths of the sea and marine life.
Call Number:
QB296.U5 1876

 


 

Author:
Sir Wyville Thompson, Sir John Murray, George S. Nares, and Frank Tourle Thompson
Title:
Report on the scientific results of the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 under the command of Captain George S. Nares, R.N., F.R.S. and the late Captain Frank Tourle Thomson, R.N./prepared under the superintendence of the late Sir C. Wyville Thompson, and now of John Murray; published by order of Her majesty's Government
Publisher:
Edinburgh: printed for H.M. Stationery off.
Year:
1880-1895
Significance:
The Challenger expedition was the first global oceanographic expedition.
Call Number:
Q115.C4 1880, vols. 1, 2, 9, 13, 15, 20, 21, 25, 1880 summary, pts. 2 and 2

 


 

Author:
Agassiz, Alexander (1835-1910)
Title:
A contribution to American thalassography: three cruises of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer Blake, in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean sea, and along the Atlantic coast of the United States, from 1877 to 1880 (2 volumes)
Publisher:
Boston and New York : Houghton, Mifflin and Company ;Cambridge : The Riverside Press
Year:
1888
Significance:
The Blake was the first sip to use stell wire for deep-sea dredging.
Call Number:
QH93.A26 1888, 2 vol.

 


 

Author:
Pillsbury, John Elliott, 1846-1919
Title:
Physical hydrology. Gulf Stream explorations, observations of currents, 1888 and 1889, Appendix No. 16, Annual Report of the Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey for 1889
Publisher:
Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office
Year:
1890
Significance:
Deep-sea anchoring up to 2,200 fathoms made possible this classic study of the Gulf Stream.
Call Number:
GC296.G9 P55 1890

 


 

Author:
United States, Bureau of Fisheries
Title:
Dredging and hydrographic records of the U.S. Fisheries Steamer Albatross for 1904 and 1905.
Publisher:
Washington: Government Printing OfficeYear
Year:
1906
Significance:
Collected biological specimens, dredging, hydrographic and meteorologic observations, in three regions, (1) the southern portion of the California coast, (2) the eastern Pacific Ocean, and (3) the Pacific coast of North America between Seattle and Wrangell Island.
Call Number:
QH91.57.R47 A4 1901

 


 

Author:
United States, Bureau of Fisheries
Title:
Dredging and hydrographic records of the U.S. Fisheries Steamer Albatross for 1906
Publisher:
Washington: Government Printing Office
Year:
1907
Significance:
The Albatross investigated the Bering Sea, the eastern coast of Kamchatka, the Japanese coast, and the Sea of Japan during its cruise of 1906.
Call Number:
QH91.57.R47 A4

 


 

Author:
Bouree, H.
Title:
De la Surface aux Abimes (From the surface to the bottom of the sea)
Publisher:
Paris: Librairie Ch. Delagrave
Title:
1912
Significance:
Prince Albert the First of Monaco sponsored extensive oceanographic expeditions. This work contains photos taken on some of these expeditions.
Call Number:
525.8B77

 


 

Author:
Bigelow, Henry Bryant, 1879-
Title:
Explorations of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer Bache in the western Atlantic, January-March, 1914, under the direction of the United States, Bureau of Fisheries
Publisher:
Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government.Printing Office
Year:
1917
Significance:
Example of deep ocean biological and physical oceanographic studies conducted cooperatively by Coast Survey and Bureau of Fisheries.
Call Number:
GC58.B5 1917

 

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1923-1945

Author:
John Paul Harland, b. 1900
Title:
The last cruise of the Carnegie, by J. Harland Paul...with a foreward by John A. Fleming
Publisher:
Baltimore: The Williams & Wilkins Company
Year:
1932
Series:
Special Papers Number 7
Significance:
The Carnegie was the first ship built soley for oceanic geophysical research. To study the earth's magnetic field at sea, the ship was built from the keel up to be totally non-magnetic.
Call Number:
Q115.C33P3 1932

 


 

Author:
Vetch, A.C. and P.A. Smith
Title:
Atlantic submarine valleys of the United States and the Congo submarine valley
Publisher:
New York, N.Y.: Geological Society of America
Year:
1939
Series:
Special Papers Number 7
Significance:
A study of the submarine topography off the eastern coast of the United States, as well as the Congo submarine valley.
Call Number:
GC83.V4