Andrea Crestadoro -

Andrea Crestadoro

Andrea Crestadoro
Sketch from 1879
OccupationLibrarian and curator
Spouse(s)Margaret Elizabeth Chittleburgh
Parent(s)John Baptista Crestadoro

Dr. Andrea Crestadoro (1808–1879) was a bibliographer who became Chief Librarian of Manchester Free Library, 1864–1879.[1] He is credited with being the first person to propose that books could be catalogued by using keywords that did not occur in the title of the book. His ideas also included a metallic balloon, reform of the tax system, and improvements to a railway locomotive – the Impulsoria – that was powered by four horses on a treadmill.


Andrea Crestadoro was born in Genoa in 1808 and was educated there before he studied for his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Turin. He came to notice in 1849 when he left his position as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin to come to England to further his interest in mechanical devices.[2] In England he took out a number of patents including improvements to the Impulsoria.[3]

Crestadoro improved the design of an unusual device called the Impulsoria, which was a mobile treadmill-powered locomotive.[4] The invention was made by Clemente Masserano, who was from Pignerol in Italy. Following his improvements Crestadoro exhibited the Impulsoria at The Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace in 1851.[4] The power was transferred to the wheels using chains[5] and a gearbox that allowed it to climb. It was said to be able to pull 30 wagons up an incline and could be used with two or four horses.[6]

Another suggestion from Crestadoro was to replace the paddle wheels or propellors on steamships with a smooth cylinder. He argued that the paddles or propellor blades were unnecessary, proposing smooth cylinders instead, which he suggested would gain traction by being immersed in the water.[7]

Crestadoro was given the task of creating a catalogue for the Manchester Library. He is credited with being the first person to propose that books could be catalogued by using keywords that did not occur in the title of the book.[8] The system was called keyword in titles, which was first proposed for Manchester libraries in 1864.[9] This system was developed many years later as Key Word in Context (KWIC) by Hans Peter Luhn and was used in early computer based indexing.[10]

Crestadoro was an acquaintance of Anthony Panizzi, Principal Librarian of the British Museum and he was employed as a reader there. Exasperated by the delays in the publication by the British Museum of a Catalogue of Printed Books, Crestadoro wrote The Art of Making Catalogues of Libraries: Or A Method To Obtain In A Short Time A Most Perfect, Complete, And Satisfactory Printed Catalogue Of The British Museum Library which was published anonymously in 1856. The catalogue was to include 800,000 books but it had been in progress for over 20 years and consumed generous grants that had far exceeded £100,000 in 1853.[11]

Crestadoro published books on a number of subjects. His 1868 book proposed a method of dispensing with both gas and ballast by using a metallic balloon for flight. This too was exhibited at Crystal Palace in 1868.[2] At the end of his life he was publishing ideas for the fairer allocation of taxation. After Crestadoro died in 1879 it was discovered that there was a partly built glider in one of the Manchester libraries.



  1. ^ Lucy Evans, British library Staff Research Profile accessed 21 June 2010
  2. ^ a b W. E. A. Axon, 'Crestadoro, Andrea (1808–1879)', rev. Elizabeth Baigent, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 ;online edn, May 2007 accessed 20 Dec 2010 doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6678
  3. ^ "Crestadoro, Andrea"  . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  4. ^ a b "The Impulsoria" . svsfilm. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  5. ^ The Engineer and machinist . 1850. p. 184.
  6. ^ Ellis, Cuthbert (1956). The South Western Railway: its mechanical history and background, 1838–1922. Allen and Unwin. p. 256.
  7. ^ Norton, C.B. (1853). The New-York quarterly, Volume 1 . p. 539. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  8. ^ Olsen, Hope A.; Boll, John J.; Aluri, Rao (2001). Subject analysis in online catalogs. p. 112.
  9. ^ Advanced Indexing and Abstracting Practices . p. 41.
  10. ^ Manning, C. D., Schütze, H.: "Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing" , p. 35. The MIT Press, 2000 ISBN 0-262-13360-1
  11. ^ Crestadoro, Andrea (1856). The art of making catalogues of libraries . Literary, Scientific & Artistic Reference Office. p. 6 .

Categories: 1808 births | 1879 deaths | British librarians | People associated with the British Museum | People from Genoa | Italian emigrants to the United Kingdom

Information as of: 02.07.2020 11:41:35 CEST

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