Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘Mijnheer ende broeder’: letters from Cornelis de Witt to his brother Johan

Once again, the dedicated and industrious Johan de Witt project team, based at the Huygens ING in Amsterdam under the direction of Dr Ineke Huysman, has been hard at work, and the latest instalment of correspondence metadata to be added to the Johan de Witt catalogue in EMLO consists of a listing of four-hundred-and-twenty letters sent to Johan by his elder brother Cornelis de Witt (1623–1672). Publication of this section of the catalogue has been orchestrated to coincide with the opening of an exhibition on the De Witt brothers, De Gebroeders De Witt. Iconen van de Gouden Eeuw, at the Historisch Museum Den Briel.

At the heart of this exhibition, which has been guest curated by Dr Ronald Prud’homme van Reine, stands the gold and enamel goblet presented to Cornelis de Witt by the States of Holland in 1668. Created by Nicolaas Loockemans (d. 1673), this cup celebrates the actions of Cornelis in June of the previous year when he was selected to accompany Michiel de Ruyter in the infamous (in the Netherlands at least—it tends to be somewhat downplayed in this country) raid by the Dutch navy on the Medway. During this particularly embarrassing episode for the Stuart navy, the Dutch fleet sailed to the coast of Kent, captured the fort at Sheerness, breached the English defensive chainline across the estuary, made their way up the Medway to Chatham—where they burned or captured a number of ships—and left unscathed with both the fourth rate ship the ‘Unity’ (which had itself been captured from the Dutch just two years previously) and the English flagship the ‘Royal Charles’ in tow. (And, if you’re interested, do read about the subsequent fate of this symbolic prize as a tourist attraction!). The exhibition brings together a complementary selection of paintings, prints, drawings, medals, and portrait busts, and from a regional perspective considers the role of Cornelis as ‘ruwaard’ (prosecuting attorney) of Putten, the court for which was in Gervliet, just five kilometres from Brill.

As with all the correspondence published thus far in the Johan de Witt catalogue, users are able to follow the link provided in each individual letter record to a digitized image of the relevant manuscript. Access to these images is proving invaluable for scholars, and Dr Huysman, the Johan de Witt team, and the directors and heads of the Dutch libraries and archives involved are to be thanked and commended in equal measure for making this possible.

Detail of the goblet created by Nicolaas Loockemans and presented to Cornelis de Witt. (Musée national de Moyen Age-Musée de Cluny. Déposé au Musée du Louvre, OArt Paris. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais, Musée du Louvre/Jean-Gilles Berizzi.) The goblet is on display in the ‘De Gebroeders De Witt. Iconen van de Gouden Eeuw’ exhibition at the Historisch Museum Den Briel between 16 June and 8 September 2019.

Closing date reminder: Paris-Oxford Research Fellowship in Digital Humanities

A brief reminder for all who intend to apply for the three-year fully funded fellowship at the Sorbonne University (Paris, France) that the closing date is tomorrow, Friday, 14 June 2019. Applications should be sent to Alexandre Guilbaud ( For further details about the opportunity, please see the post published on this blog last April.

Un bref rappel à tous ceux qui ont l’intention de soumettre une candidature pour la bourse de recherche de trois ans à l’Université de la Sorbonne (Paris, France) que la date de clôture est demain, vendredi 14 juin 2019. Les candidatures doivent être envoyées à Alexandre Guilbaud ( Pour de plus amples renseignements sur cette opportunité, veuillez voir le post publié en avril dernier.

The life, the letters, and the legacy of Mary Wortley Montagu

Mary Wortley Montague was certainly not the first European to observe medical practices in Constantinople. Nor was she the first visitor in the city to arrange variolation against smallpox for a child (her own son, Edward Wortley Montagu the younger). But she is thought to have been the first to encourage the practice when she returned to London, enabling the procedure to be carried out on a second child (her daughter Mary, later countess of Bute) and playing an active role to raise awareness of the potential for widespread immunity against the disease. At the time, such advocacy of variolation made her well-enough known for members of the public to ‘hoot at her as an unnatural mother’, for predictions to be voiced of ‘failure and the most disastrous consequences’, and for the clergy to decry ‘the impiety of thus seeking to take events out of the hand of Providence’.1

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu with her son, Edward Wortley Montagu, and attendants, attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour. c. 1717. Oil on canvas. (© National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 3924)

Smallpox was a killer. Many, including Voltaire, wrote of the fearsome mortality rate for those who caught the disease at that time. Early modern individuals fortunate enough to survive infection were scarred for life. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, born Mary Pierrepont in 1689, lost her brother to smallpox; she herself contracted the virus not long after she had moved to London as a young wife, and her looks were ruined—she claimed she was left with ‘tokens of its passage, for it deprived her of very fine eye-lashes; which gave a fierceness to her eyes that impaired their beauty’.2

None of this prevented Lady Mary from pursuing a life of adventure, however, and from travelling through Europe first to accompany her husband, the diplomat Edward Wortley Montagu (1678–1761), on his embassy to Constantinople and later, once her children were older, through France and Italy in the hope of arranging a rendezvous with the young man who was at that point the elusive object of her considerable attention: none other than Venetian polymath Francesco Algarotti (1712–1764). As can be seen from the calendar of her correspondence, which was published last week in EMLO, these romantic yearnings were not to be realized but, fortunately for us, Lady Mary wrote with constancy and at length as she travelled. An array of fascinating acquaintances may be found among her correspondents, including the English poet Alexander Pope (with whom she had an infamous ‘parting of ways’); the bishop of Salisbury and historian Gilbert Burnet; the Italian mathematician and writer Antonio Conti; and the French playwright Jean-Baptiste Rousseau. Thanks to the careful work of Robert Halsband, on whose three-volume edition this calendar is based courtesy of our partners Oxford Scholarly Editions Online [OSEO] at Oxford University Press, we are able to consider within her correspondence the curious body of letters known as ‘the Embassy letters’ that date from her husband’s two year posting in Constantinople.3

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, by Achille Devéria, printed by François Le Villain, published by Edward Bull, published by Edward Churton, after Christian Friedrich Zincke. Hand-coloured lithograph, 1830s. (© National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG D34619)

Do explore the life, the letters, and the legacy of this remarkable early modern woman. The texts of all the letters in Robert Halsband’s edition may be consulted within a subscribing library or institution via links from EMLO’s letter records, as may the entries on Lady Mary and members of her family—as well as many of her correspondents—in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [ODNB]. It is worth following the unfortunate career of Mary’s son Edward, who underwent inoculation as a child and thus was spared death or maiming by smallpox. Much good this did him: despite election as a Fellow to the Royal Society, he has come down to posterity classified as a ‘traveller and criminal’ (causing one of my colleagues, who shall remain nameless, to comment: ‘just look at the types they were electing to the Royal Society in the eighteenth century!’). The fact that young Edward contested the Will of his father, the elder Edward, in 1761 was the reason Lady Mary, herself terminally ill, set out from Venice to return for the final time to her homeland. A pioneering and independent woman, she died in London the following summer and was buried in Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street.

  1. See Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: essays, poems and ‘Simplicity: a comedy’, ed. R. Halsband and I. Grundy (1976), ‘Biographical Anecdotes’, written by her granddaughter Lady Louisa Stuart, pp. 35–6.
  2. Ibid, p. 35.
  3. For an explanation of the status of ‘the Embassy letters’, see The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, ed. Robert Halsband, 3 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), vol. 1, pp. xiv–xvii.

‘Useful Enemies: Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450–1750’

Those who keep an eye on this blog may be interested to learn of the publication earlier this month of Noel Malcolm’s Islam and The Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450–1750. The latest work by the Chair of our Cultures of Knowledge project Steering Committee is described by its publisher Oxford University Press as an overview across three hundred years of ‘the mental world of those in the West who wrote in a political way about the East’.

Just days off the press, the book has been praised as ‘wise and beautifully judged’,1 as ‘learned and fascinating’,2 and as a ‘brilliant study … on the ways in which Western thinkers used what they knew about Islam and the Levantine world to make points to their own European readership’.3 Dr Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and current Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, concludes his review with the thought-provoking observation: ‘Without blurring the basic points of real diversity, religious and social, between western Europe and its menacing, tantalising, enviable and bewildering neighbour, Malcolm prompts us to ask not only how the West got to be “modern”, but whether the categories of “modern” and “pre-modern” are as clear cut as we might have thought when we try to do justice to our global political environment.’



Shifts in perspective: the life and legacies of Johan Maurits, count of Nassau-Siegen

Detail from the portrait of Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen,, by Jan de Baen. c. 1668–70. (The Mauritshuis, The Hague)

For those who would like to know more about Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen (1604–1679), the early modern figure at the centre of the latest batch of letters to be published in EMLO, it is worth reading the literature that surrounds the latest exhibition to open at the Mauritshuis. Or, better still, to carve out time to visit the museum should occasion arise in The Hague. Shifting Image — In Search of Johan Maurits examines the life of this Count of Nassau-Siegen from a number of pertinent and fresh perspectives.

Johan Maurits served as Governor-General at the Dutch Republic’s first large plantation colony in current-day Brazil. The colony, with its sugar plantations and mills, had been captured from the Portuguese and remained in the possession of the Dutch for a quarter of a century until 1654. The exploitation of, and the accumulation of vast profits from, the area form—as this exhibition investigates—’a crucial episode in the history of the Dutch slave trade’. In the context of the Governor’s life, the lens is brought to focus on his role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Johan Maurits left for Brazil in 1636. Over the course of the following eleven years, while the transport took place of thousands of men, women, and children from the west coast of Africa to the north-east coast of Brazil, the Mauritshuis was designed, built, and furnished in The Hague to the Governor’s specifications. Johan Maurits proved a considerable patron, encouraging such artists as Frans Post and Albert Eckhout, and commissioning Caspar Barlaeus and Franciscus Plante to write Rerum per octennium in Brasilia (1647) and Mauritias (1647) respectively. This exhibition questions how objective these artistic and literary interpretations of the Governor’s own role and the Dutch involvement in Brazil might be, given their purpose and dependence upon Johan Maurits’s funding. Not content merely with covering costs, Johan Maurits elected to keep a firm hand on the output of his munificence and in the creation of his own image, taking it upon himself to edit Barlaeus’s text. And in an approach that has not always been employed as a matter of course in the history of art and of patronage, visitors to the exhibition are asked to weigh up the probable reality underlying such landscapes as Post’s View of the Island of Itamaracá, the first known painting in which enslaved people are depicted in ‘Dutch Brazil’.

Detail from ‘Study of Two Brazilian Tortoises’, by Albert Eckhout. c. 1640. (The Mauritshuis, The Hague)

What survive as visual and written records of this colony at the time of Johan Maurits, partial though these might be, are nonetheless invaluable as documentary evidence for the individuals concerned. We are able to refer to the maps charted, to the illustrations and scientific descriptions of fauna and flora recorded, and—of course—to surviving correspondence. Johan Maurits left his post as Governor-General in 1644.

The forty-six letters uploaded to EMLO to coincide with this exhibition in Johan Maurits’s former residence have been contributed by Dr Ineke Huysman and her project team at the Huygens ING as part of their work on the correspondence inventory for Johan de Witt. Dating between 1653 and 1670, the letters are those sent from the former Governor-General to the Grand Pensionary of Holland, and each record is linked to an image of the manuscript held at the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. The synchronicity of the listing of these letters in EMLO and the exhibition at the Mauritshuis offers a timely opportunity to consider Johan Maurits both within the context of the work-in-progress catalogue of Johan de Witt and in the broader perspective of Dutch and of global history, contrasting—as this exhibition does so well—early modern attitudes and beliefs with those held today.

‘View of Itamaracá Island in Brazil’, by Frans Post. 1637. (The Mauritshuis, The Hague)

Paris-Oxford Research Fellowship in Digital Humanities

As part of a collaboration between Oxford and the Sorbonne, we are delighted to announce the new call for applications for a three-year fully funded fellowship open to students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in the history of science, in mathematical sciences, in digital humanities, or in computer science. Details of the fellowship are set out below, both in English and in French.

Paris-Oxford Research Fellowship in Digital Humanities

Recent progress in digital humanities has transformed research in the history of science: large quantities of data, the collation of which would formerly have required time-consuming visits to libraries and archives, have been made available; manuscript and book collections are accessible online; and investigations across a range of related resources become ever easier. In consequence, historical investigations can be contextualized better, studies of networks taken to a new level, and analysis conducted across increasingly large quantities of data and metadata.

Applications are open currently for a fellowship that will offer the successful doctoral student the opportunity to undertake research over a period of three years at two of the most prestigious institutions in Europe: Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Oxford. Applicants should have a background in one or more of the following four disciplines: digital humanities, history of science, mathematics, or computer science. They should demonstrate experience of historical study alongside evident ability in the field of digital humanities or data sciences.

Thesis topics might combine any area of the history of science with an approach in digital humanities. In particular, proposals exploring innovative digital or computer-based approaches for research in the history of mathematical sciences or on early modern correspondence will be welcome, as will those involving investigation into how the development of digital analysis, research, and visualization tools can contribute to new research on scientific and/or epistolary corpuses.

This programme forms part of a scientific collaboration between the Sorbonne’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford. The successful doctoral student will work within the ‘Digital Humanities’ team at the Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) of Sorbonne University (Paris, France) and will conduct a period of research at the University of Oxford (UK), either within the framework of the Cultures of Knowledge research project/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO] at the Faculty of History, or of the Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, or of the Mathematical Institute. The student will benefit from a three-year funding grant from the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University.

Further information regarding this opportunity is available from Alexandre Guilbaud ( or Miranda Lewis (

To apply, please send a copy of your CV and an outline of your planned research project to Alexandre Guilbaud ( before the closing date of 14 June 2019.


Bourse de recherche Paris-Oxford en humanités numériques

Les progrès récents accomplis dans les humanités numériques ont transformé la recherche dans le domaine de l’histoire des sciences : des quantités importantes de données, dont le rassemblement aurait autrefois demandé de nombreuses et longues visites de bibliothèques et d’archives, ont été mises à disposition, des collections de manuscrits et de livres sont accessibles en ligne, et les recherches à travers un éventail de ressources connexes n’ont jamais été aussi faciles. En conséquence, les recherches historiques peuvent être mieux contextualisées, des études de réseaux amenées à un autre niveau, l’analyse peut être réalisée à travers des quantités de plus en plus grandes de données et de métadonnées.

Les candidatures sont ouvertes pour une allocation de recherche qui offrira au doctorant retenu l’opportunité d’entreprendre des recherches sur une période de trois ans au sein de deux des institutions les plus prestigieuses d’Europe : Sorbonne Université à Paris et l’Université d’Oxford. Les candidats devront avoir une formation dans une ou plus des quatre disciplines suivantes : les humanités numériques, l’histoire des sciences, les mathématiques ou l’informatique. Ils devront démontrer qu’ils possèdent une expérience des études historiques ainsi que des compétences manifestes dans le domaine des humanités numériques ou des sciences des données.

Les sujets pourront associer n’importe quel domaine de l’histoire des sciences avec une approche en humanités numériques. En particulier, les propositions explorant des approches numériques ou informatiques innovantes pour des recherches en histoire des sciences mathématiques ou des recherches sur les correspondances de l’ère moderne seront bienvenues, de même que les problématiques s’intéressant à la façon dont le développement d’outils d’analyse, de recherche de visualisation numériques peut contribuer à de nouvelles recherches sur les corpus scientifiques et/ou épistolaires.

Ce programme s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une collaboration scientifique entre la Faculté des Sciences et Ingénierie de l’Université de la Sorbonne et la Faculté d’Histoire de l’Université d’Oxford. Le candidat sélectionné travaillera au sein de l’équipe ‘Humanités numériques’ à l’Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) de Sorbonne Université (Paris, France) et effectuera une période de recherche à l’Université d’Oxford (Royaume-Uni), soit dans le cadre du projet Cultures of Knowledge/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO] à la Faculté d’Histoire, ou du Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, ou de l’Institut de Mathématiques. Le doctorant bénéficiera d’une allocation doctorale de trois ans financée par la Faculté des Sciences et Ingénierie de Sorbonne Université.

De plus amples renseignements concernant cette opportunité sont disponibles auprès d’Alexandre Guilbaud ( ou de Miranda Lewis (

Pour poser votre candidature, veuillez envoyer une copie de votre CV et un résumé du projet de recherche envisagé à Alexandre Guilbaud ( avant la date du 14 Juin 2019.


‘Networking Archives’: the deadline for applications approaches

This is not an early April fool but rather a gentle (and genuine!) reminder for those who are interested in joining ‘Networking Archives‘, the AHRC-funded project with which Cultures of Knowledge is involved at present: submissions of applications to attend a series of training schools and a colloquium, together with the chance to author a chapter in an edited volume, will close this coming Monday, 1 April. Details of the opportunity may be found in an earlier post on this blog, as well as on the Networking Archives website.

As applications stream in, the project’s Queen Mary University of London research assistant, Dr Esther van Raamsdonk, and I are in the thick of disambiguating and identifying the authors and the recipients of letters to be found within the Stuart State Papers. As we work, we are reminded at every turn how extraordinarily fortunate we are to glimpse, albeit fleetingly, aspects of the lives of so many early modern individuals—from the movers and shakers of the period, to those who, but for the survival of a letter in this archive, would have slipped through the net of the historical record and remain unknown to us today. We work with a tool developed in Cambridge by Dr Sebastian Ahnert, and when we set out at the beginning of last month we faced approximately 55,000 unique expressions of names in need of our time and attention. The workflow we have adopted is similar to that used ten years ago (at the beginning of the Cultures of Knowledge project) for the disambiguation of the authors and recipients described within metadata of the Bodleian card catalogue. As so often in the Early Modern Letters Online editorial team, the enormity of what lies ahead is helped by the dialogue and communication maintained when at the coalface. If you would like to be involved in these conversations and are interested in where the project will be taking this data, and if you wish to focus on the analysis of early modern correspondence networks, the offer to join us is open, but the deadline is set for Monday …

Good luck!

The delivery of post. Detail from Christoff Weigel, ‘Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten …’ (Regenspurg, 1698), p. 160. (Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, obj. no. RP-P-1896-A-19368-1602)

Johan de Witt: a partnership moving forward

While eyes across Europe this week have been fixed in disbelief on the latest proceedings on the green benches in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, a remarkable instance of a harmonious Anglo-Dutch partnership and a series of ensuing publications focussed on early modern correspondence have been celebrated in The Hague. At a reception held last Thursday in the British ambassador’s residence, the Johan de Witt Correspondence Project marked the release of the first instalment of the Grand Pensionary’s catalogue in EMLO alongside publication of a hard-copy anthology of a selection of his letters.1

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson CMG hosted the event and, in the course of his welcome, drew the attention of the guests to the long history of close relationships between individuals from the two countries. In her role as the project’s director, Dr Ineke Huysman explained the purpose, the background, and the ambitions of the Johan de Witt Project, as well as the focus for the first instalment of metadata in EMLO on De Witt’s incoming diplomatic correspondence. A further three talks highlighted the roles of the project’s partner institutions: Professor Lex Heerma van Voss, director of the Huygens ING, discussed the reasons why early print editions tend to be partial and all too frequently include neither complete texts nor a full listing of the surviving letters; Professor Charles Jeurgens of the University of Amsterdam and the National Archives of the Netherlands (Nationaal Archief) explained the tendency for historic library catalogues not to provide descriptions at the level of the individual letter and how digital work is beginning to unlock what may be described as the ‘black boxes’ of the archive; and I spoke about Early Modern Letters Online, Networking Archives, and the ongoing international work of Cultures of Knowledge, which — as the correspondence of many of the individuals under investigation currently demonstrates — promotes pan-European scholarly and technical collaboration through our own times of uncertainty. Emeritus Professor Jonathan Israel from Princeton University (the author of the indispensable The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477–1806) placed Johan de Witt in context, describing both the significance of the Grand Pensionary and Anglo-Dutch relations in the early modern period.2 He spoke in detail of the admiration the English diplomat William Temple (1628–1699) held for De Witt, and observed how Herbert Rowen, whose work he confessed to have exerted a crucial role early in his own career, would have welcomed and benefitted from such an invaluable digital initiative.3 The formal part of the celebrations concluded with a presentation in which the Ambassador handed the first copy of Johan de Witt en Engeland to the Algemeen Rijkarchivaris (General State Archivist) Dr Marens Englehard.

This beautifully produced and unique publication draws on twenty letters from De Witt’s correspondence, all with an English connection, through which the imaginative and creative illustrations by project member Jean-Marc van Tol have been threaded seamlessly, each one inspired by an early modern painting or print. The letters selected range from those written in the 1640s, a period when England was in turmoil prior to the execution of Charles I and when Johan and his brother Cornelius visited the country on a leg of their European travels, to May 1672, just two months before the murder of the De Witt brothers. Publication of this anthology, together with the release of the first instalment of metadata in EMLO, is testimony to the hard work of the team of volunteer contributors who dedicate so much in terms of time and commitment to the project.

In the course of his political duties, Johan de Witt corresponded with large numbers of heads of state, dignitaries, and diplomats. However, he was also a mathematician and, when a student at Leiden, he lodged in the house of Frans van Schooten the elder, a lecturer in mathematics at the university who, in addition to De Witt, taught Johannes Hudde, Christiaan Huygens, and René François de Sluse, as well as his own son Frans van Schooten the younger. De Witt, who trained as a lawyer, published a number of mathematical treatises, including the ‘Waerdye van Lijf-renten naer proportie van Los-renten’, in which he attempted to price life annuities with respect to their true value.4

Dr Ineke Huysman presenting the Johan de Witt correspondence project in The Hague (with Charles I looking on from the side!), 14 March 2019.

As Cultures of Knowledge continues its work with clusters of correspondence and their underlying networks, interesting overlaps between the Johan de Witt project and the Networking Archives project, which is centred around the letters to be found in the Tudor and Stuart state papers, are certain to emerge. Even at this early stage, manuscript versions of the same letter preserved in both The National Archives at Kew and the Dutch National Archive have come to light, and the ability (through EMLO) to link manifestation versions of a letter is a prospect the partners relish. As EMLO, the De Witt project, the National Archives of the Netherlands, and the Huygens ING step forward together, sharing knowledge and sharing platforms, the spotlight seems set to draw into focus early modern networks that have relevance for aspects of our own lives and our situations today.

  1. Johan de Witt en Engeland. Een bloemlezing uit zijn correspondentie, ed. Ineke Huysman and Roosje Peeters, with illustrations by Jean-Marc van Tol (Soest: Catullus, 2019).
  2. Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477–1806 (Oxford,: Oxford University Press,1995). A full list of Jonathan Israel’s publications may be consulted here.
  3. See H. Rowen, John de Witt, statesman of the ‘true freedom’ (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986) and John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, 1625–1672 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978).
  4. Details of De Witt’s mathematical treatises may be found on the MacTutor History of Mathematics database hosted at St Andrews.

‘Networking archives’: an opportunity for collaboration, training, research, and publication …

With work at Early Modern Letters Online continuing apace and a number of different strands and projects being juggled simultaneously, it is always encouraging to announce exciting new opportunities and promote collaboration. One such opportunity involves Cultures of Knowledge‘s Arts and Humanities Research Council [AHRC] funded research project Networking Archives. As explained in an earlier post on this site entitled ‘Announcing “Networking Archives: Assembling and analysing a meta-archive of correspondence, 1509–1714″‘, Networking Archives is a collaboration between Cultures of Knowledge, Dr Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary University of London), and Dr Sebastian Ahnert (University of Cambridge), with Gale State Papers Online. At present, preparatory work is underway to prepare and interrogate the metadata collated from the correspondence to be found within the Tudor and Stuart State Papers — both domestic and foreign — alongside the data contained in Early Modern Letters Online. This combination of datasets, together with use of the project’s accompanying tools and infrastructure, will enable researchers to query and analyse their own epistolary metadata and to pose new kinds of questions on the history of the different forms of ‘intelligencing’ between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries.

One of the ambitions of Networking Archives is to bring together and to foster a community of scholars, data analysts, and developers who share an interest in correspondences that overlap and intersect with the datasets under investigation. Applications are being accepted currently for participation in a scheme that involves a series of training schools and a colloquium. These events, scheduled to take place in Cambridge and Oxford over the course of the next two years, are intended to provide hands-on training in data collation and curation, in network analysis, and in basic coding. Successful applicants will be offered the opportunity to develop their research into chapters that will be published in an edited collection.

Further details of these events, and the conditions regarding application, may be found on the Networking Archives project news page.


Antiquarian ‘Science’ in the Scholarly Society: a workshop

On a day in which Mary-Ann Constantine from the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies [CAWCS] at the University of Wales gave an inspirational paper on travel writing and the letters exchanged between the antiquarian Richard Gough and the naturalist and writer Thomas Pennant (introducing the former with the show-stopping phrase ‘Gough tends to be known most widely as a shelfmark’), it is a tremendous pleasure to be circulating news of a forthcoming workshop that will explore how ‘antiquarian science informed collecting’ and collections in the’ early modern scholarly academy’. Organized by the historians of science Anna Marie Roos and Vera Keller, this event will take place on 1 and 2 April at the Society of Antiquaries of London and will examine the work of many of the early modern figures who crossed the divide between natural philosophy and antiquarianism. Full details of the programme and speakers, together with information regarding registration for the workshop, may be found here.