Highlights from the Royal Society’s archive

The Royal Society has recently made available 60,000 historical scientific papers from the past 350 years, sorted by date to 1887 here and thereafter divided into A (mathematics, physics, engineering) and B (biological and life sciences). If those pages are a little daunting, you can digest it all as a historical timeline here. Unfortunately I don’t have about five consecutive years to sit and read everything and the STEM papers definitely sail about six feet over my head, but I’ve spent a few hours reading through the scans of some of the older contributions. There’s a gruesome fascination in reading about experiments from the 1600s: descriptions of deformed animals, accounts of experimental blood transfusions in sheep and a rather useful paragraph on how to kill a rattlesnake.

Anyway, grotesque science aside I found some real treasures in the archives, and there are probably dozens more I skimmed over. Here are the highlights of my little adventure into historical science:

Dr. Harvey, “An Extract of the Anatomical Account, Written and Left by the Famous Dr. Harvey, Concerning Thomas Parre, Who Died in London at the Age of 152 Years and 9 Moneths“, 1668.

An Extract of a Letter from a Learned French Gentleman, Concerning a Way of Making Sea-Water Sweet“, 1670.

Rob. Gourdon, “A Receipt to Cure Mad Dogs, or Men or Beasts Bitten by Mad Dogs“, 1686.

Of the Posture-Master“, 1698.

J. Breintal, “A Letter from Mr. J. Breintal to Mr. Peter Collinson, F. R. S. Containing an Account of What He Felt after Being Bit by a Rattle-Snake“, 1746.

Peter Camper, “Account of the Organs of Speech of the Orang Outang“, 1779.

Also in the archives are Michael Faraday’s “Experimental Researches in Electricity” (which start in 1832 and are published in almost every edition until around 1839) and early work by  Charles Darwin.

See anything else interesting? Tell me in the comments!