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Isaac Newton's Principia

James M. Vaughn, Jr., Vaughn Foundation Fund Collection

The Ransom Center has become home to 125 books and manuscripts donated by the James M. Vaughn, Jr., Vaughn Foundation Fund. Highlights from the new collection include a presentation copy of Newton’s Principia (1687), a 1496 edition of a 13th-century treatise on arithmetic, and the Collected Papers of Srinivasa Ramanujan, published in 1927.

A Texas native, James M. Vaughn, Jr., graduated with a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1961. He then pursued graduate studies in mathematics at UT before shifting his energy toward funding research into one of math's greatest challenges: producing a proof of Pierre de Fermat's (1607–1665) Last Theorem, which states the equation an + bn = cn cannot be solved for any integer, n, greater than two.

While supporting research toward a solution to the theorem, which Andrew Wiles produced in 1994, the philanthropic foundation Vaughn created also began building an unprecedented collection of books on mathematics. The collection started to come together when Vaughn purchased an important copy of Isaac Newton’s famous Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica (1687) and, ultimately, has set itself apart with the wide range of names and works Vaughn sought out with his deep knowledge of mathematics. As a bookseller who worked closely with Vaughn writes, “James was way ahead of the curve, and [remains] unsurpassed.”

Book spine

Isaac Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (London: Joseph Streater, 1687). James M. Vaughn, Jr., Vaughn Foundation Fund Collection, Vaughn 1. Gift by The James M. Vaughn, Jr., Vaughn Foundation Fund; James M. Vaughn, Jr., Salle W. Vaughn, and Jan Werner, Trustees. Harry Ransom Center.