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Historical and Library Holdings

by Colonel David Arney

Sylvanus Thayer's first task before assuming the Superintendancy in 1817 was to tour the technical institutions of Europe and assess what features USMA could use to advantage. One of Thayer's many accomplishments was to obtain numerous mathematics and science books from Europe. Thayer's book collection included many of the finest books available at that time. His books provided a solid foundation for the USMA library to build upon. Today, the West Point Library has one of the finest collections of pre-20th century mathematics books in the world. Also during the middle of the 19th century, the Academy instructors used elaborate physical models made by Theodore Oliver to explain the structures and concepts of geometry. This magnificent collection of string models is still in the Department today.