From railroads to rinderpest, Cavagna collected widely in scientific works, but focused mostly on subjects that had profound effects on shaping Italy—both physically and demographically. Historical works on plague outbreaks and contemporary works on the prevention and treatment of cholera and malaria are particularly well represented. The collection contains a significant number of works on hydrotherapy and the composition and therapeutic use of mineral waters found across Italy. Volcanology, geology, and archaeology are strongly featured, as are agricultural topics such as sericulture, risiculture, and the prevention of livestock diseases. Civic and hydraulic engineering— from Roman times to the Risorgimento—are also strengths of the collection, especially works on land reclamation and river and flood control.