16th May 2014: Linnaean manuscripts and writing technologies

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Here is an audio slide show explaining the work on Linnaean Manuscripts done by Isabelle Charmantier here at the Linn. Isabelle brought out a load of manuscripts and talked me through the evolution in the writing technologies used by Linnaeus...

Headed by Dr Staffan Müller-Wille and entitled ‘Re-writing the system of nature. Linnaeus’s use of writing technology’, the project was undertaken at the University of Exeter and funded by the Wellcome Trust. Through a detailed study of Carl Linnaeus’s manuscripts, Staffan and Isabelle reconstructed the ways in which Linnaeus assembled, filed, and cross-referenced information about plants and their medicinal virtues.

Linnaeus experimented with a variety of paper-based information technologies throughout his career – including commonplace books and notebooks, maps, schematic diagrams and drawings, collections of loose paper sheets, sometimes folded up to form slim files, annotations in interleafed copies of Linnaeus's own publications, and paper-slips resembling index cards. His ‘natural system’ emerged not out of direct observation of nature, but out of Linnaeus's day-to-day work of revising and rearranging what he and others had written earlier.

Linnaeus's own publications

For any more info about this or any other aspect of the Linnean Society email me on events@linnean.org