The Johann Reinhold Forster Manuscripts

Five previously unpublished manuscripts of Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798)

These manuscripts, transcribed and translated from the original Latin, have been in the Society's archives since their acquisition among the papers of Sir James Edward Smith. All are in Forster's hand: all bear some relationship to publications prepared by Forster, though none are identical to any of his published works.

These manuscripts serve as a reminder of the precocious place occupied by Forster amongst the natural historians of the later eighteenth century.

manuscripts of Johann Reinhold Forster

They were first described and placed in context by Arthur MacGregor, FLS, in:

'Five unpublished manuscripts of Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798) in the archives of the Linnean Society of London', Archives of Natural History 42 (2015), pp. 314-30.

We are very grateful to Arthur MacGregor for making his excellent transcriptions and translations of the manuscripts available for research.

The transcriptions and initial translations of the above were prepared by Arthur MacGregor. The translations of nos. 1-4 were kindly corrected and improved by John Spencer. The translation of no. 5 was completely revised by Philip Oswald. Other specialist collaborators are listed in the published commentary: all of their contributions are gratefully acknowledged by the principal author.

Please note that these resources (including the images from the original manuscripts) are copyrighted, and may only be used for private research purposes. For all other uses, please get in touch with

'Index Animalium nuper ex America maxime boreali advectarum ...', Linnaean Correspondence, fasc.11, fols. 298c-e (c. 1767-1771)

Fragmentary list of birds, Linnaean Correspondence, fasc.11, fols. 298a-b (c. 1772-1798)

'Description of 36 animals found during Capt. Cook's 2nd voyage round the Earth 1772-75', Linnaean Manuscripts, LM/MA/FOR/2 (c.1772-1778)

List of insects, Linnaean Manuscripts, LM/MA/FOR/1 (c.1770-1778)

Botanical text forming part of a letter to Linnaeus, Linnaean Correspondence, vol.4, fasc.10, fols. 297-298 (c. 1775-1776)