Royal Society Publishing

Report. Robert Boyle for the twenty-ndash;first century


In recent years, major steps have been taken in terms of understanding and exploiting the vast archive of Robert Boyle (1627–91), which was presented to The Royal Society in 1769. The collection was first catalogued in the 1980s; since then, it has been extensively used in preparing the definitive editions of Boyle's Works (14 vols, 1999–2000) and Correspondence (6 vols, 2001), both published by Pickering & Chatto, and the edition of his ‘workdiaries’, which has been available online since 2001. Now, thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, various steps have been taken to enhance access to the archive—particularly by electronic means, and especially through the provision of high–quality digitized images of its key components—and thus to increase understanding of Boyle and his significance for the origins of modern science. The project, entitled ‘Robert Boyle for the twenty–first century’, is a joint initiative between Birkbeck (University of London), The Royal Society and Access to Archives. It has three main components: first, the revision of the catalogue of the Boyle archive and its presentation in online, searchable form; second, the creation of digitized images of the entire content of the core volumes of the Boyle Papers and the publication of these on the World Wide Web, some as illustrations to an updated edition of the workdiaries; and third, the provision of introductory material on Boyle aimed at schools on the Boyle website at Birkbeck.