Lectures On Mineralogy
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Permit me to welcome you at the opening of this new course on mineralogy. [...] We shall travel the paths of science together, we shall study together some of the greatest works of God, and shall we not be friends?
— William Wagner, Introductory No. 1

In 1852, a wealthy and public-spirited scientist by the name of William Wagner began giving lectures from his home in Philadelphia. The philosophy behind these lectures was simple: an understanding of science is valuable to each person in every trade, and should therefore be attainable to all who seek it. These lectures became the focus of Wagner's energy, and in 1855, the Wagner Free Institute of Science was formally incorporated. Following Wagner's death in 1885, the well-reputed biologist Joseph Leidy took over the museum and expanded its collections into a full-blown natural history museum. For over a century since, Wagner’s mission of free science education has been carried out by like-minded educators, researchers, and historians at the still-operating Wagner museum.

This website is a collection of edited transcriptions from some of William Wagner’s earliest lectures on the study of mineralogy, delivered during the 1850s and 1860s. His descriptions of minerals have been paired with images of the Wagner museum’s own mineral collection: many of these specimens are from the personal collection of Wagner himself.

...the heights of Science are steep and rugged, and to ascend them, we must like the mountaineer be strong and steady. Already has science controlled the elements, overcome nature, and looked down upon Conquered improbabilities. In reviewing the parturient centuries that have borne these truths, we cannot but be struck with the fact that the divinity of the truths of Science is proven by the immortality of its triumphs. Through all time, all revolutions that have shaken the earth, the truth of Science lived on.
— William Wagner, Introductory No. 1

Wagner Free Institute Of Science - (215) 763-6529

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