Linnaean Manuscripts

The Linnean Society of London preserves the manuscript collection of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778)

This uniquely important collection is closely related to the Linnaean Collection of botanical and zoological specimens.

The manuscripts are the basis for Linnaeus's published works and the foundation of modern taxonomy.

The collection comprises working papers, drafts for publication, lecture notes, and miscellaneous manuscripts of other naturalists covering almost all aspects of the botanical, zoological, mineralogical, medical, and bibliographical interests of Linnaeus, father and son.

A highlight of these are the famous travel diaries made in Lapland, Oland and Gotland.

Sixteen of the Linnaean manuscripts have been part of a special research project:

Researching and editing these sixteen manuscripts was made possible by a Wellcome Trust grant to Dr Staffan Müller-Wille, Dr Isabelle Charmantier, and Dr Robert Leigh (University of Exeter), in collaboration with the Linnean Society.

This research, now available online together with digital images of the sixteen manuscripts, is the offshoot of a bigger Wellcome Trust funded project, entitled 'Rewriting the System of Nature. Linnaeus's Use of Writing Technologies' (2009-2012).

It explored what is sometimes called 'the first bio-information crisis', through a detailed reconstruction of the ways in which Carl Linnaeus assembled, filed, and cross-referenced information about plants and their medicinal properties.

For more information on the project, go to the University of Exeter's centre for medical history.

Sixteen Manuscripts that Re-wrote Nature

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