Skip to Main Content

Boole Collection: Home

Material relating to George Boole.

About the Collection

The Boole Collection was formed in the wake of the Year of Boole Celebrations (2014-2015) commemorating the 200th anniversary of George Boole's birth and 150th anniversary of his death. The collection was initially formed by selecting Boole-related items from general collections. The collection encompasses works by Boole, his immediate family and their descendants; modern works about Boole, his family or their descendants; and items from the time of the Boole celebrations.

The collection prefix before the call number is: Boole.

The collection is open.

Biographical History: George Boole

George Boole, first professor of Mathematics at Queens College Cork (later UCC) was born 2 November 1815 in Lincoln, England the eldest son of John Boole and his wife Mary Ann Joyce. George Boole had three siblings Maryann (1818-1887), Charles (1819-1888) and William (1821-1902). In 1855 he married Mary Ann Everest and they had five children, all daughters Mary Ellen (b.1856), Margaret (b.1858), Alice (b.1860, Lucy (b.1862) and Ethel (b.1864). Boole died prematurely in 1864 at his home in Ballintemple, Co. Cork aged only 49. He caught a severe chill from walking in the rain, which later turned into a lung infection, causing his death.

In 1849 Boole was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Queens College, Cork and he remained teaching there for the rest of his life, gaining a reputation as an outstanding and dedicated thinker.

In 1854 he published An Investigation into the Laws of Thought, on Which are founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. Boole approached logic in a new way reducing it to a simple algebra, incorporating logic into mathematics. He pointed out the analogy between algebraic symbols and those that represent logical forms. It began the algebra of logic called Boolean algebra which now finds application in computer construction, switching circuits etc.

Boole also published the influential Treatise on Differential Equations (1859) and A Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences (1860). He published around 50 papers and was one of the first to investigate the basic properties of numbers, such as the distributive property, that underlie the subject of algebra.

Many honours were given to Boole as the genius in his work was recognised. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Dublin and Oxford and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1857). Today Boole is best remembered as the originator of Boolean Logic - a fundamental step in today's computer revolution, and the basis for all modern computer software.Boole’s achievements are all the more impressive when you consider he was entirely self taught. He received only the most basic schooling, but was imbued from his childhood by his father with a love of mathematics. He never attended University or gained a formal qualification in his chosen subject.

Collection Highlights

Front cover to 'George Boole's Lincoln 1815-49'

Walker, Andrew, ed. George Boole's Lincoln 1815-49. [Lincoln]: The Survey of Lincoln, 2019.

Front cover to 'Philosophy & fun of algebra'

Boole, Mary Everest. Philosophy & fun of algebra. London: C.W. Daniel, 1909.

Mary Ann Everest married George Boole in 1855. Following Boole's death she moved to London with her daughters. She published many works on mathematical education.

EL Voynich's signature on the endpapers of 'Some poems of Roger Casement'

Casement, Roger. Some poems of Roger Casement. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1918.

Boole Collection item is signed by E.L. Voynich. Ethel Lilian Boole married the Polish scientist and revolutionary Wilfrid Michael Voynich. E.L. Voynich is best known as the author of the novel The Gadfly.

Dustjacket to 'Shenfan'

Hinton, William. Shenfan. London: Secker & Warburg, 1983.

William Hinton is the great-grandson of George Boole. He is the grandson of Mary Ellen Boole who married Charles Hinton, whose son was Sebastian Hinton.