Library of 19th Century Science

This digital library is prepared
and maintained by Dr. David C. Bossard.

Last Update 04 Jan 2019 -  The website is now hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), after the previous hosting could not be sustained.

Jan 4, 2019

This digital library was prepared by Dr. David C. Bossard from copies held at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, U.S.A., with the help of volunteer collaborators. After the previous hosting could not be sustained, the website is now hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in connection with the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).

The HMS Challenger Library has been reorganized so that every document is available as searchable linked pages.

Please note that the Google Search will reflect the reorganization of the HMS Challenger Library after a delay of about a month after posting the changes.

You may search the H.M.S. Challenger Library here:

only search the H.M.S. Challenger Library
Search of new material may be delayed several weeks after posting
You may search the Golden Age of Geology Library here:

only search the Golden Age of Geology Library
Search of new material may be delayed several weeks after posting

All documents in this library exist as searchable PDF pages and as jpeg page images. The Google search (above) will present individual pdf pages. You can view the full document by editing the individual page web address as follows:
     If the pdf page address is:


      then the entry page to the full document is:


This naming convention is followed throughout this  website.

This library contains a number of books and reports written (mostly) in the 19th century. The books are available for direct viewing.

Fair Use

All materials are copyrighted, and all rights are reserved. You are encouraged to browse the listings and use this site as a library resource for your personal use. This includes downloading single copies of a complete report for personal use.

Current Contents.

    • The H.M.S. Challenger Library. This library includes the entire set of 90+ biological reports produced in  connection with the H.M.S. Challenger Voyage of Exploration (1873-1877), as well as some additional contemporary books related to the Voyage. The Challenger reports include many thousands of engraved plates, woodcuts and photographs. The entry portal to this library is duplicated below.

    • The Golden Age of Geology Library. This library includes the writings of a number of prominent scientists involved in the establishment of the science of Geology. Authors included are:
Agassiz, Buckland, Hitchcock, Lyell, Hugh Miller, Paley, Zittel and others.

H.M.S. Challenger Library

H.M.S. Challenger
H.M.S. Challenger

The H.M.S. Challenger Expedition, conducted between 1873 and 1876 was one of the first, and perhaps the most thoroughly documented, of many expeditions devoted to the investigation of ocean physics and biology. All of the 90-odd Zoology and Botany reports published by the Expedition have been digitized and are available here for browsing.  The reports include over 30,000 pages of text and many thousands of illustrations.

Direct Access to the reports is through the Linked Index. An Illustrated Index is also provided, and can be accessed through the H.M.S. Challenger Library Entry Portal. but it is very large (over 30 Mb) because it includes many sample plates from the reports.

The Challenger Medal, prepared by Glenn M. Stein F.R.G.S., describes the medal awarded in 1895 to participants in the Challenger Voyage of Exploration. A pdf version is available here.

Featured Reports

To inaugurate this web site, I am featuring Sclater's Report on the Birds, published in 1881.  This report is remarkable for its color plates.

Plate X

Ptilopus johannis, Male and Female,
from Plate X.

The Corals.  The following Challenger reports are devoted to the corals:

Zoology  7 VII: Report on Certain HYDROID, ALCYONARIAN, and MADREPORIAN CORALS.  By Professor H. N. Moseley, M.A., F.R.S., F.Z.S., F.L.S.
   Bound in Volume 2,1881. 248 pages with 32 plates.

plate 1
Hydrocorallinæ Stylasteridæ
Original -- Natural Size

Madreporaria -- Caryophyllia
Original -- Natural Size

Zoology  46 XLVI: Report on the REEF CORALS. By John J. Quelch, B.Sc. (Lond.).
   Bound in Volume 16,1886. 203 pages with 12 plates.

plate 1
Plate I. Stylophora, Pocillopora, Oculina
Original -- Natural Size

Plate VIII. Montipora, Rhodaræa
Original -- Natural Size

Zoology  64  LXIV: Report on the ALCYONARIA. By Professor E. Perceval Wright, M. A., M. D., Sec. M.R.I.A., and Professor Th. Studer, M.D.
   Bound in Volume 31,1889. 314+72 pages with 49 plates and 5 woodcuts.

plate 3
Plate III. Dasygorgia cupressa, n. sp.
Original -- Natural Size
Twigs -- Enlarged

Plate XXXVIB. Spongodes
Original -- Natural Size
Details -- Enlarged

Zoology  80  LXXX: Report on the ANTIPATHARIA. By George Brook, F.L.S.,  F.R.S.E.
   Bound in Volume 32,1889. 222+13 pages with 15 plates and 9 woodcuts.

plate 1
Plate I.  Antipathella, n. sp.
Original  -- Reduced 30% to 60%,

Plate III. Tylopathes, Aphanipathes
Original -- reduced 30-80%.
Details -- Enlarged

Zoology  81  LXXXI: Report on the ALCYONARIA (Supplement). By Professor Th.  Studer, M.D.
   Bound in Volume 32,1889. 31 pages with 6 plates.

plate 1
Plate I.  Siphonogorgia.
Original  -- Colony - Natural Size
Polyps - Enlarged.

Plate IV. Echinogorgia, Eunicea
Original -- (upper) Natural Size
Details -- Enlarged.

If you have questions or suggestions please email Dr. Bossard at webmaster.

Notice: This web site and all of the digitized documents available from this site are copyrighted by Dr. David C. Bossard. All Rights reserved. It is permissible to view and download single copies of the reports for personal use.

Last Update 4 Jan 2019 -  The website is now hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).