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Collections

Research

Mirror cell for the Great Melbourne Telescope speculum, ca. 1867. Catalogue reference: MS/257

The Centre for the History of Science welcomes research proposals from university and institutional partners and supports academic history of science through grant-making and conference organisation. These activities aim to give historical context to the Society’s present concerns, breathing life into some of its lesser explored resources, and to promote science to a wider audience through its extraordinary historic collections.

Research opportunities

Collaborative doctoral partnerships

The Centre for the History of Science hosts AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards studentships. We are part of the Science Museums and Archives Consortium with BT Archives, Science Museum Group (National Science and Media Museum, Science and Industry Museum, the National Railway Museum and Locomotion), The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We welcome applications through various regional consortia such as the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership or the London Arts & Humanities Partnership.

The Lisa Jardine grant scheme

The Lisa Jardine Grant Scheme provides travel grants to early career scholars whose research combines arts or humanities with the natural sciences. The scheme will fund researchers’ travel to facilitate use of history of science collections, including the Royal Society’s own, in support of their research in the field of intellectual history. It will also provide travel grants for attendance of conferences, networking or training events centred on the history of science and related interdisciplinary subjects. The scheme is open for applications twice annually.

Full scheme details.

Research collaborations

The Royal Society supports academic researchers in the history of science and related disciplines and is host to several active research projects, often generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and led by associated scholars.

Workshop and conferences

We host and co-organise academic workshops and conferences related to the collections.

Student placements

We welcome students undertaking a degree or qualification which includes compulsory placements related to the collections. Placement work has varied from arranging and cataloguing new accessions as part of an Archives and Records Management MA course to hands-on experience at curating digital assets for Digital Humanities MA. 

Examples of past projects

Grew Anatomy of plants, plate 69

Lisa Jardine grant-funded archival research

Justin Begley DPhil, University of Helsinki, ‘Botany Before Linnaeus’

In 2020 Justin Begley spent nine weeks at the Royal Society consulting primary sources to further his research on the networks and intellectual concerns that underpinned botanical study pre-Linnaeus (1660-1740). With a fellowship at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Justin will build on his research at the Royal Society to lay the foundations for a monograph.

Article - The Lost Liquid Cosmogony of Johannes Daniel Schlichting (1705-1765)

Collaborative doctoral partnership

Dr Hannah Wills,  University College London

In 2019, Hannah Wills completed a thesis in science and technology studies on The Diary of Charles Blagden: Information Management and the Gentleman of Science in Eighteenth-Century Britain under the supervision of Dr Simon Werrett, University College London and Mr Keith Moore, The Royal Society.  

Video - The Insider’s Diary

Article - Joseph Banks and Charles Blagden: cultures of advancement in the scientific worlds of late eighteenth-century London and Paris

CB/3 Blagden Diary

Collecting and collections: digital lives and afterlives workshop

Collective wisdom project

In November 2019, a two-day workshop was organised by the AHRC-funded project at Carlton House Terrace, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, University of Oregon, the Leopoldina Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Royal Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society. It explored the afterlives, use and reconstruction of early modern collections and was designed to benefit scholars interested in digital humanities.

Blog post - Launching digital catalogues of the Royal Society collections

Google Art & Culture exhibition - On Royal Society curator Emanuel Mendes Da Costa

Making visible: the visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society

Dr Sachiko Kusukawa, University of Cambridge

This AHRC research project investigated the relationship between science and visual culture in seventeenth-century England. The purpose was to understand how art, artists and reproductive-print makers enabled creativity and innovation in science in the 17th century, and to what extent naturalists and natural philosophers, in turn, transformed visual resources and strategies into something of their own. 

Postdoctoral researchers: Dr Sietske Fransen and Dr Katherine Reinhart.

Picture library collection - Making Visible

Google Arts & Culture exhibition - Science Made Visible: drawings, prints, objects 

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