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Keys to Mathematical Treasure Chests: Classroom Slide Rules – Conclusion, References, About the Author

Amy Ackerberg-Hastings (MAA Convergence)



Although organizations of slide rule collectors are justifiably worried about the aging of their membership, interest in the devices remains high and the history and use of slide rules is incredibly well-documented on the internet. This article has aimed to narrow down the resources instructors might consult by focusing on the slide rules 20th-century students would have actually encountered in high school or college classrooms: the oversized demonstration slide rule, suitable for mounting on a wall or blackboard and visible to an entire classroom at once, and the student slide rule, a label that encompasses the many models manufactured for instructional use by individuals. Today’s instructors can share images from the museum collections highlighted in this article, and they can consider implementing the activities described on the Resources page. Happy slipsticking!


Ackerberg-Hastings, Amy. 2012. Slide Rules as Computers and on Computers. In Proceedings of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics, edited by Tom Archibald, 12–23. Vol. 25, 38th Annual Meeting. Available by request from the author.

Ackerberg-Hastings, Amy, and Amy Shell-Gellasch. 2014, December. Online Museum Collections in the Mathematics Classroom. Convergence 11.

Cajori, Florian. 1909. A History of the Logarithmic Slide Rule and Allied Instruments. New York: The Engineering News Publishing Company.

Davis, Richard, and Ted Hume. 2012. Oughtred Society Slide Rule Reference Manual (aka All About Slide Rules). Roseville, CA: The Oughtred Society.

Huff, Paul R. 2005. Slide Rules in the Classroom—An Anecdotal Report. Journal of the Oughtred Society 14(1): 12–13.

Keane, Maribeth. 2008, November 12. Calculating the Quality of Vintage Slide Rules (interview with Mike Konshak, webmaster of the International Slide Rule Museum). Collectors Weekly.

Keuffel & Esser Co. 1924, August. Shop calculations made easy. Industrial Arts Magazine 13(8): 27A.

Keuffel & Esser Co. 1933. Drawing Instruments and Materials for High Schools, Preparatory Schools and Manual Training Schools. New York.

Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich. 2017, February 9. A curator goes to the movies: The stuff of “Hidden Figures”. O Say Can You See? Stories from the Museum. National Museum of American History.

Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich, and Amy Ackerberg-Hastings. 2014. Slide Rules on Display in the United States, 1840–2010. In Scientific Instruments on Display, edited by Silke Ackermann, Richard L. Kremer, and Mara Miniati,159–172. Scientific Instruments and Collections, vol. 4. Leyden: Brill.

Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich, Amy Ackerberg-Hastings, and David Lindsay Roberts. 2008. Tools of American Mathematics Teaching 1800–2000. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Mannheim, Amédée. 1853. Règle à calculs modifée. Nouvelles annales de mathématiques 12: 327–329.

McCoy, Clark. n.d. K&E Catalogs and Price Lists for Slide Rules.

Otnes, Robert K., ed. 1993. The Keuffel & Esser Issue. Journal of the Oughtred Society 2(1): 4–49.

Rex, Earl C. 1940. Construction of a Demonstration Slide Rule. School Science and Mathematics 40(2): 161–164.

Rudowski, Werner H. 2006. How Well Known Were Slide Rules in Germany, Austria and Switzerland Before the Second Half of the 19th Century? Journal of the Oughtred Society 15(2): 42–49.

Rutzen, Dagmar. 2005. Getting Hooked on Slide Rules—A Classroom Tale. Journal of the Oughtred Society 14(1): 14–15.

State College of Washington. 1906. Fifteenth Annual Catalogue of the State College of Washington. Olympia, WA: C. W. Gorham.


Collections Search Center, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Computer History Museum

History of Science Museum, University of Oxford, England

International Slide Rule Museum

K&E Company Collection and Richard (Dick) Rose Collection, MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA

Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France

Science Museum Group, London, England

Searchable Galleries, Oughtred Society

Slide Rules, The Museum of HP Calculators, curated by David G. Hicks

Slide Rules, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, England

Slide Rules Object Group, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

The Slide Rule Universe, Sphere Research Corporation, West Kelowna, British Columbia

University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection, Toronto, Ontario


I thank Peggy Aldrich Kidwell for the concept of this series and for suggestions on the draft of this article.

About the Author

Amy Ackerberg-Hastings prepared web descriptions for the slide rules in the mathematics collections of the National Museum of American History between 2011 and 2013 as part of work funded by Ed and Diane Straker. She has written numerous articles about the history of mathematical instruments and is currently co-editor of Convergence.


Amy Ackerberg-Hastings (MAA Convergence), "Keys to Mathematical Treasure Chests: Classroom Slide Rules – Conclusion, References, About the Author," Convergence (September 2023)