Holdings in Engineering
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Among the holdings in Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Historical Scientific Instruments are instruments used in the teaching of engineering courses.

In 1852 W.A. Norton was elected the first professor of civil engineering at Yale University. In a letter to the Yale Sheffield Scientific School, Professor Norton proposed that the engineering course encompass the study of the following:

  • Surveying, including instruction on the use of instruments such as the theodolite, compass and level.
  • Drawing of topographical, geometrical, machine, architectural subjects, and including the techniques of shading and tinting.
  • Descriptive geometry, to cover geometrical shades and shadows, linear perspective and isometric perspective.
  • The application of descriptive geometry to masonry and stonecutting in the construction of arches, and to civil and mechanical engineering.
  • The principles of architecture.
  • Analytical geometry.
  • Mechanics, including hydraulics and pneumatics, and the application of mechanics to machinery and engineering.
  • Construction, including the nature, strength and mode of preparing building materials.
  • Field engineering, concerning the location of roads, surveys for excavations and embankments, and determination of time, latitude and longitude.

The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.



YPM catalog no. 8.2A

Brass, glass, copper, steel.
Made by Stackpole and Brother.

Length 9.5 inches (24 centimeters)
Width 7.9 inches (20 centimeters)
Height 14.5 inches (37 centimeters)



YPM catalog no. 5.104

Brass and painted iron.

Length 12 inches (30 centimeters)
Height 10.5 inches (27 centimeters)
Diameter 3.5 inches (9 centimeters)

Horizontal Level


Brass, glass.
YPM catalog nos.
1.25 (top) and 1.26 (bottom)

Tripartite brass cylinder; overall length is 29 inches (74 centimeters) on brass legs 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) high. Middle segment is 13 inches (33 centimeters) long and carries a brass tube of equal length with a nested glass level tube that is graduated from 0 to 6 units on each side of center by 1/10 units (no liquid in glass tube). Overall height is 10.2 inches (26 centimeters).

Hydraulic Press


Wood, brass, steel.
YPM catalog no. 1.275

Brass cylinder is 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) in
diameter and 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) high,
with an enclosed piston, and a connecting brass
tube and force pump. Length of handle to pin
is 14 inches (35.5 centimeters). Inside diameter
of cylinder is 3.2 inches (8.3 centimeters).

Hydraulic Gauge


Wood, brass, steel.
YPM catalog no. 5.843

Height 5.6 inches (14.3 centimeters)
Diameter 4.8 inches (12.1 centimeters)

Vacuum Pump


Wood, brass, glass, mercury, steel.
YPM catalog no. 1.14

A brass cylinder unit 8.6 inches (22 centimeters)
high and 2.6 inches (6.7 centimeters) in diameter
slides on the vertical evacuating tube, which
extends below the pump plate. On each downstroke
air from the vessel being evacuated is taken into
the cylinder; on each up-stroke this air is expelled
from the cylinder, and the cycle begins again. The
cylinder is raised and lowered by a brass lever. A
mercury manometer communicates with the
evacuating tube.



Wood, felt, brass, steel.
YPM catalog no. 5.288

A one-meter linear measure (39.3 inches)
with case. Made by Delevil a Paris.