The Purdue Archives and Special Collections is home to the William Freeman Myrick Goss Library of the History of Engineering. The Library was created in 1928 from the personal library of William F.M. Goss, former Purdue University Dean of Engineering (1890 – 1907). In 1930, an endowment was established to allow for the growth of the collection. Over the years, faculty, Purdue alumni, and friends of the University have generously contributed to the collection and by 1940 the Library contained over 3,500 rare books documenting the history of science, engineering, and technology.
The Goss Library includes several important early works of the Scientific Revolution including a 1617 edition of De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus, a 1659 edition of Geometria by Rene Descartes, and a 1714 edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton.
The history of transportation is particularly well documented in this collection. In addition to works on the history of railroads and engines, the Goss Library contains several rare French, Italian, German, and English volumes on early aviation and aeronautics including works on balloon flight, rigid and semi-rigid airships such as dirigibles and zeppelins, rotary and fixed wing aircraft development, and powered flight.