UMass Amherst
Jan Swammerdam

Historia insectorum generalis, ofte, Algemeene verhandeling van de bloedeloose dierkens : waar in, de waaragtige gronden van haare langsaame aangroeingen in leedemaaten, klaarelijk werden voorgestelt : kragtiglijk, van de gemeene dwaaling der vervorming, anders metamorphosis genoemt, gesuyvert : ende beknoptelijk, in vier onderscheide orderen van veranderingen, ofte natuurelijke uytbottingen in leeden, begreepen
t'Utrrecht : By Meinardus van Dreunen ..., 1669.
[28], 168, 48 p., XIII, [1] leaves of plates (some folded) : ill. (engravings) ; 21 cm. (4to)

Call no.: QL463.S8 1669

In his brief life, Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680) became one of the best known Dutch naturalists of the 16th century. Under the sway of Enlightened rationality, Swammerdam wholeheartedly embraced the empirical approach to knowledge and the new technology of the microscope, turning his attention to things previously thought to be small and unremarkable. In 1658, he became the first to observe red blood cells, however it was his love for entomology that earned him his greatest acclaim.

Although trained as a physician, Swammerdam devoted much of his energy to the study of the anatomy and physiology of insects. His Historia insectorum generalis or Algemeene verhandeling van de bloedeloose dierkens, published in the Dutch vernacular in 1669, was among the first comprehensive treatises on the subject, and is important for demonstrating the continuity of the organism throughout metamorphosis and as an assault upon the ancient theory of spontaneous generation.

The SCUA copy of Historia insectorum generalis includes a scarce additional plate depicting a mosquito as seen under magnification.

title page

metamorphosis of insects "The manner in which worms and caterpillars change into pupae."

scorpion Scorpion

mosquito Additional plate depicting a mosquito