Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sir Hans Sloane's Correspondence Online
Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Sir Hans Sloane. Mezzotint by J. Faber, junior, 1729, after Sir G. Kneller, 1716.

Using my editor's privilege, I am pleased to announce the launch of my database of Sir Hans Sloane's Correspondence: https://drc.usask.ca/projects/sloaneletters . 

The pilot project already contains entries for over 1400 letters addressed to Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), who was a physician, scientist and collector.  Sloane's books, plant samples and curiosities formed the foundation collections of the British Library, British Museum and Natural History Museum.  The correspondence covers a wide range of topics from travel and collecting to scholarly disputes and medical cases -- and more is to come, as there are thirty more volumes of correspondence to enter.

Some transcriptions of letters are provided, but the database's initial intent to facilitate the use of the collection.  The collection has, until now, only been indexed according to letter-writer's name.  This has made it difficult to trace relationships between authors or to find specific subjects, given the sheer size of the correspondence.  As the database grows, it will be possible to make even more interesting connections.

But it is not just my project alone, as several students and alumni from our History department have provided research assistance for this project over the last couple years:
Jason Grier (B.A. Hons. and current M.A. student)
Amanda Harrigan (B.A. Hons. and M.A., now at the University of Alberta)
Rob Konkel (B.A. Hons., now at Oxford University)
Kurt Krueger (B.A. Hons. and M.A., now at the University of Victoria)
Melanie Racette-Campbell (M.A., now at the University of Toronto)
Heather Stanley (Ph.D. candidate)

I am sure that they will be just as glad that their efforts are finally seeing the light of day!