- Bodleian card catalogue
- John Aubrey
- Jan Amos Comenius
- Samuel Hartlib
- Edward Lhwyd
- Martin Lister
- John Selden
- John Wallis
We don't conceive of EMLO as finite or self-contained — we want to grow if with your help! — but for proof of concept this beta release combines epistolary metadata from the following eight contributing catalogues and collections:
Bodleian card catalogue (48,817 letters)
The most comprehensive existing catalogue of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century manuscript correspondence in Oxford's Bodleian Library is a fifty-two drawer index-card file located in the Selden End of the historic Duke Humfrey's Library. Compiled in the course of the last century by Bodleian staff, this catalogue — whilst not a complete overview of the Bodleian's epistolary holdings — provides summaries of over 48,817 letters from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries preserved in 487 volumes of manuscripts, including material from the Rawlinson letters and the Tanner, Smith, Ballard, and D'Orville manuscripts. Hitherto available only on-site, metadata drawn from this extraordinarily rich resource forms the core of material for our union catalogue.
The scanning and keying of the 48,817 cards currently featured in EMLO was supervised by Alexander Huber and Michael Popham from the Oxford Digital Library, while the ongoing checking and cleansing of their metadata is being performed by our Editors Dr Kim McLean-Fiander and Miranda Lewis.
The Correspondence of John Aubrey (1,073 letters)
John Aubrey (1626–97) was one of theforemost gatherers and disseminators of learning in late seventeenth-century England. The author of the celebrated Brief Lives, Aubrey was also a pioneer of archaeology and antiquarianism, and was a member of the fledgling Royal Society. In describing himself to others, he often quoted a line taken from Horace: 'I perform the function of a whetstone, which can make the iron sharp though is itself unable to cut'. Aubrey was too modest, but one of his greatest contributions to intellectual history meets exactly this description: namely, the extraordinary body of correspondence that he accumulated and would bequeath to the Ashmolean Museum (which in turn passed it to the Bodleian Library in 1860). His correspondents ranged from philosophers like Hobbes and Locke, to scientists such as Newton, Wren, Hooke, Petty, and Halley, to literary figures like Thomas Browne and Henry Vaughan, to antiquarian scholars such as Edward Lhwyd and Elias Ashmole. Furthermore, their social and geographical diversity attests that early British 'science' was as much the province of Somerset, Merioneth or Yorkshire as it was of Oxford, Cambridge, or London. For further information on Aubrey, see the Project website, the ODNB, or Wikipedia.
The 1,073 Aubrey records currently featured in EMLO were calendared by our doctoral student Kelsey Jackson Williams, with the additional support of Dr Kate Bennett, Dr Rhodri Lewis, and Dr William Poole.
The Correspondence of Jan Amos Comenius (526 letters)
Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670), the Moravian pedagogue and pansophist who provided the inspiration of much of the activity of Hartlib and his circle, provides another opportunity to expand the global dimensions of the Project. Thanks not least to Hartlib, Comenius's influence was felt throughout Europe, and in his native country he emerged as a figure emblematic of Czech difficulties and aspirations. A pioneering educational theorist, a visionary utopian reformer, the last bishop of the Czech Unity of Brethren, and a witness to the devastating impact of the Bohemian revolt of 1618–20 on the Protestant communities of his homeland, Comenius is also a man whose itinerant career as a refugee intellectual took him through most of the Protestant world: from his native Moravia, through Bohemia, Silesia, Germany, Poland, Prussia, Hungary, Transylvania, Sweden, England, and the Dutch Republic. For further information on Comenius, see the Project website, or Wikipedia.
The 483 Comenius records currently featured in EMLO were checked and translated by our Postdoctoral Fellows Iva Lelkova and Dr Kateřina Horníčková, with the additional support of Dr Vladimír Urbánek, in association with the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The original Czech database was compiled by Jiří Beneš, Marta Bečková, Markéta Klosová, Lenka Reznikova and Vladimír Urbánek.
The Correspondence of Samuel Hartlib (4,589 letters)
Samuel Hartlib (c.1600–62) was of mercantile stock: his father was a German merchant, and his maternal grandfather was the head of the English trading company in Elbing on the southern shores of the Baltic. After the Swedish invasion undermined Elbing's commercial position in the late 1620s, Hartlib fled war-torn central Europe to England, where he became one of the most active reformers of the late 1630s and the ensuing civil war and republican period. Not known in his own day for his own published writings, Hartlib was virtually forgotten by posterity until the rediscovery of an archive of his personal papers. This discovery revealed his personal correspondence to have been enormous. The 20,000 folios of his archive contain over 4,250 letters written to or (mostly) from some 400 correspondents, or exchanged between third parties. Befitting Hartlib's own origins, their geographical range was impressive, embracing eastern and central as well as western Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, and New England. Their thematic scope was no less remarkable. Baconian aspirations for the advancement of learning merged with proposals for breaking monopolies, disseminating technical discoveries, diplomatic intelligence-gathering, and employing the poor – concerns which, in the disrupted conditions of the 1640s and 50s, shaded over into utopian planning energized by millenarian expectations. Hartlib's archive is now recognized as one of the richest in Europe for revealing the intellectual shock waves unleashed by the turbulence of the mid-seventeenth century, and Hartlib himself has taken his place at the centre of one of the great intelligencing networks of the mid-1600s. For further information on Hartlib, see the Project website, the ODNB, or Wikipedia.
The 4,589 Hartlib records currently featured in EMLO were refined and augmented by our Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Leigh Penman, under the supervision of Professor Howard Hotson and Professor Mark Greengrass, and in association with the Humanities Research Institute of the University of Sheffield. The online versions of the letters from the original Hartlib Papers to which many of these records are linked were mounted by Michael Pidd and Jamie McLaughlin from HRIDigital at the University of Sheffield.
The Correspondence of Edward Lhwyd (2,139 letters)
Edward Lhwyd (c.1660–1709) was the second Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, and an important naturalist, archaeologist, and linguist. He published the first catalogue of English fossils, the Lithophilacii Britannica Ichnographia (1699), in a limited edition of 120 copies; many of the specific fossils he illustrated still survive in the Oxford collections. Lhwyd was also a keen naturalist, and assisted (among many others) John Ray with his botanical work. Perhaps Lhwyd's greatest claim to scholarly significance, however, rests upon the extensive tours he made of the Celtic lands to continue his work as a naturalist and for the dual purposes of archaeological and linguistic survey. This resulted, on the one hand, in the most sophisticated archaeological work of the day; and on the other, in the first serious comparative study of the Welsh, Scots and Irish Gaelic, Cornish, and Breton languages. This linguistic work, of course, must be associated with Lhwyd's broader intellectual pursuits in Oxford, where he was not only Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, but an active member of the Oxford Philosophical Society in its first years. Lhwyd corresponded regularly throughout his busy life in English, Latin, French, and Welsh with a wide array of natural philosophers and antiquaries, including Martin Lister and John Aubrey. For further information on Lhwyd, see the Project website, the ODNB, or Wikipedia.
The 2,131 Lhwyd records currently featured in EMLO were calendared by our Editorial Assistant Helen Watt (building on transcriptions originally prepared by Dr Brynley F. Roberts), under the supervision of Professor Dafydd Johnston and Professor Richard Sharpe, and in association with the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales. The Edward Lhwyd Correspondence Project would like to thank Mrs Mary Burdett-Jones for the use of her transcripts of the letters of Humphrey Foulkes to Edward Lhwyd, which drew upon the scholarship of the late Dr Caryl Davies; Dr Leigh Penman, for the use of his transcripts of the letters of J. C. Seiff to Lhwyd and J. G. Kisner to J. C. Seiff, Dr Brynley Roberts for the use of his transcripts of letters of John Lloyd to Lhwyd; Dr Anna Marie Roos, for her assistance with all aspects of the correspondence between Martin Lister and Lhwyd, including completion and edition of several transcripts; Professor Richard Sharpe, for the use of his transcripts of the letters of Roderick O’Flaherty and Dr Dòmhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart, for the use of his transcripts of letters to and from Edward Lhwyd relating to Scotland; also Dr Rhodri Lewis, Dr William Poole and Kelsey Jackson Williams, for assistance with the correspondence between Lhwyd and John Aubrey. The Edward Lhwyd Correspondence Project would also like to thank the following for assistance with many aspects of the letters, including dating, translation and palaeography: M. Daniel le Bris, Dr Susan Davies, Dr Oliver Padel, Dr Guy Rowlands, Professor Matthew Spriggs, Dr Regina Stuber, Professor Michelle Szkilnik, Dr Heather Williams, and the following for their assistance with editorial, technical and administrative aspects of the project: Dr Randolph Cock, Martin Crampin, Dr Jenny Day, Dr Catriona Gibson, Thomas Roebuck, Dr Anna Marie Roos and Dr James Willoughby.
The Correspondence of Martin Lister (1,141 letters)
Martin Lister (1639–1712) was a prominent Fellow of the Royal Society who was made an honorary MD in 1684. A benefactor of the Ashmolean, he corresponded regularly on natural history with its keepers, Robert Plot and Edward Lhwyd. Furthermore, Lister was a prolific corresponding Fellow, and he issued a steady stream of letters from his medical practice in York, many of which were printed in the Philosophical Transactions. Later in life he moved to London, where he acted as vice-president of the Royal Society and also as censor of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1697–8 he travelled abroad, after which he retired to Epsom, where he continued to transact voluminous correspondence. Lister was one of the most high-profile and well-connected naturalists of the age. His letters thus provide a unique window onto early enlightenment cultures of medicine and natural philosophy throughout Britain and continental Europe. His unpublished papers were some of the largest of his donations to the Ashmolean and attest to his remarkably wide expertise, which ranged from Yorkshire antiquities and the origins of kidney stones to the disciplines of conchology (the study of shells) and arachnology (spiders), both of which he founded. For further information on Lister, see the Project website, the ODNB, or Wikipedia.
The 1,141 Lister records currently featured in EMLO were calendared by our Research Fellow Dr Anna Marie Roos.
The Correspondence of John Selden (355 letters)
John Selden (1584–1654) was a jurist, historian, hebraist, and polymath. Widely regarded as the most important scholar in Britain in the seventeenth century, he was a major antiquary and historian of English law, whose work was unrivalled before Maitland in the nineteenth century. He was also a central figure in the transmission of Oriental learning to the West, and was acknowledged in his lifetime as one of the greatest Christian authorities on Jewish law and history. He encouraged the study of Arabic, and produced the first English edition of an Arabic text. He was also an internationally recognised theorist of international law (in his Mare Clausum) and natural law (De Iure Naturali et Gentium). His works were caught up in many of the most controversial religious and political issues of the day, provoking praise and polemic in Britain and Europe. His correspondence network extended to northern Europe and eastwards to Aleppo. For further information on Selden, see the ODNB, or Wikipedia.
The 355 Selden records currently featured in EMLO were calendared by our Editor Dr Kim McLean-Fiander, on the basis of transcriptions prepared and generously provided by Professor Gerald J. Toomer.
The Correspondence of John Wallis (2,002 letters)
John Wallis (1616–1703), Savilian professor of geometry in Oxford from 1649 until his death 54 years later, is today renowned as one of the leading mathematicians of the seventeenth century. Yet in a manner characteristic of the time, his interest and accomplishments spread far wider. He acted as secretary to the reforming Assembly of Divines in the 1640s; acquired fame as a cryptanalyst during the civil wars; was a founding member of the natural philosophical circle in Oxford during the Commonwealth and of the Royal Society at the Restoration; and controversially held the post of keeper of the university archives jointly with his mathematical chair. Alongside important mathematical works, his publications include major treatises on ancient and modern music theory, a pioneering grammar of the English language, and the foremost survey of logic produced in Britain during his lifetime. His correspondence was equally wide-ranging geographically and thematically: he engaged in public dispute with a range of figures including Hobbes, Holder, Fermat, and Roberval, and corresponded with leading scientific luminaries such as Boyle, Newton, Leibniz, Huygens, and Flamsteed, as well as scientific amateurs, theologians, and members of government. For further information on Wallis, see the Project website, the ODNB, or Wikipedia.