Scientific archives and rare books

The library preserves several scientific archive holdings from mathematicians and physicists.
Our old and rare books collection is composed of more than a thousand works dating mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Scientific archival collections

This non-exhaustive list represents the archive holdings currently being processed. Those are kept in Salle Paul Belgodère and are only accessible upon justified request, and after approval by the person in charge of the library.


Born August 7, 1889 in Sèvres (Hauts-de-Seine) and died October 4, 1969 in New York (United States of America). He is mainly known for his work in quantum mechanics and solid state physics. He has worked on wave theory and information theory.

He is the heir of a great line of scientists (his father and his grandfather occupied before him a professorship at the Collège de France), Léon Brillouin was the son of Marcel Brillouin, the grandson of Éleuthère Mascart and the great-grandson of Charles Briot.


Born December 19, 1854 in Saint-Martin-lès-Melle (Deux-Sèvres) and died June 16, 1948 in Paris. He is a French mathematician and physicist.


Born May 12, 1845 in Vignot (Meuse) and died January 16, 1922 in Kensington (England). He is a polytechnician and officer, engineer commander, he is best known for his work on the triangle's modern geometry with Émile Lemoine and Joseph Neuberg in the years 1870-1880.

We owe him the construction of the Brocard point, circle, line and angle, which possess very specific properties. He was also interested in meteorology, karstology and caving.

He was made an officer of the Légion d'honneur and obtained the French academic palms.

• Born in 1942, Bernard Bru chose to study applied mathematics at the Faculté des Sciences in Paris and submitted a postgraduate thesis on invariance in structure recognition. It was this subject that led him, then assistant professor in the chair of probability, to be invited to Brown University in the United States, which had a dedicated laboratory.
Returning to Paris in 1968, he then spent two years in Constantine, Algeria, where he gave his first lectures on the history of science. In 1982, he wrote his doctoral thesis on ordered spaces of random variables. Sometimes in collaboration with his wife Marie-France née Dulac, Bernard Bru specialises in probabilities and more particularly their place in the history of science. He analyses, republishes and comments on the work of modern and contemporary mathematicians on this subject: Bernoulli, D'Alembert, Laplace, Condorcet, Cournot, Bienaymé, Borel, Fréchet, etc.
In 1983, together with Ernest Coumet and Marc Barbut, he founded the History of Probability Calculus and Statistics seminar at the EHESS. He also remains famous in the mathematical community for having opened and prepared the scientific publication with Marc Yor of the sealed envelope 11-668 sent in 1940 by Wolfgang Döblin to the Académie des Sciences, on the Kolmogoroff equation.

• The archive holdings consists of documentation either generated by Bernard Bru's exchanges with the community of historians of mathematics and probabilists (correspondence, offprints), or compiled for his research and courses, notably from the collections of the Institut Henri Poincaré when it was partially transferred to the Jussieu mathematics library, classified by author and theme by Marie-France Bru ; handwritten working notes that complement these publications; as well as archives produced by the publication of Henri Lebesgue's letters, prepared with Pierre Dugac, and by seminars and study days in which he participated.

• Preservation history: donated by Bernard Bru in two deposits: on June 28, 2022 and on November 21, 2023.

• Finding aid: detailed inventory.


Born December 19, 1854 and died June 16, 1948 Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle). He is a French mathematician specializing in number theory.

Member of the Société Mathématique de France, he has written numerous articles in L'Enseignement Mathematique, the Nouvelles Annales de Mathématiques and several other French and international journals.

In 1949, Paul Belgodère (then head of IHP's library), acquired the significant library and archives of André Gérardin, accumulated in Nancy.

Born September 7, 1884 in Lyon and died March 17, 1955 in Paris. He was renowned for his work in the theory of functions of the complex variable and its applications to the theory of functional equations.

In 1938 he was president of the Société Mathématiques de France, and in 1948 he received the Poncelet Prize, after receiving the Francœur Prize in 1925.

Rare books

Among the works from the 17th century, our vault holds titles by Kepler, Francois Viete, Descartes, Cavalieri and Huygens. As for the 18th century, we preserve the works of Daniel Bernoulli, Isaac Newton, Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, Leonhard Euler, and Condorcet.

The oldest book is Oronce Fine's Commentary on the first six books of Euclid's geometry, printed in 1536.

These monographs are not directly accessible to the public. To consult a rare book, you must first request it through the library staff.
You must follow the necessary precautions when handling those items.