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Archives in London and the M25 area

Classified Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 Cl.P
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Classified Papers
Date(s): 1660-1741
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 31 volumes containing 2,507 papers
Name of creator(s): Various
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Either sent to the Royal Society, presented at meetings of Fellows, or commissioned by the Society. Final papers concerning trade in Cl.P/25 and those on the same subject in Cl.P/3(i) date from the first half of the 17th century, and were acquired from a different source. The present 25 volumes (bound as 31 volumes) may have originally been bound as 39.


Scope and content/abstract:

Scientific and other papers sent to the Royal Society, presented at meetings of Fellows, or commissioned by the Society. They form a complementary series to the Early Letters, both of which were superseded by the Letters and Papers. Many of these items, referred to as the 'Guard Books', are duplicated in the Register Book of the Society. The classification is a simplified form of the 'Philosophical Transactions' abridgment by John Lowthorp. This arrangement was completed in 1741 by Thomas Birch. The majority of the papers in these volumes are manuscript, but a few printed documents occur throughout the series. Some of the papers are earlier in date than the grant on 15 July 1662 of the First Charter to the Society. The Committee of Trades seems to have been associated with the earlier meetings of those philosophers who subsequently became Fellows, and produced a number of practical papers, some of which were written in 1639 and which are mostly found in Volume 3(i). There are still earlier documents, mostly in Volume 25, which may have been included in the gift, in 1667, of the Arundel Library.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and Latin

System of arrangement:

The classification is a simplified form of the 'Philosophical Transactions' abridgment by John Lowthorp. This arrangement was completed in 1741 by Thomas Birch. The volumes are ordered as follows: 1. Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry; 2. Surveying, Optics, Perspective, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Mechanics; 3. (Volumes i and ii) Mechanics, Trades; 4. (Volumes i and ii) Physiology, Meteorology, Pneumatics; 5. Weather; 6. Staticks, Hydrostaticks, Hydraulics, Hydrology; 7. (Volumes i and ii) Architecture, Ship-building, Geography, Navigation, Voyages, Travel; 8. (Volume i and ii) Astronomy; 9. (Volume i and ii) Mineralogy, Magnetics; 10. (Volume i, ii and iii) Botany, Agriculture All three parts bound into one volume; 11. (Volume i and ii) Pharmacy, Chemistry; 12. (Volume i and ii) Anatomy, Surgery; 13. Monsters, Longevity; 14. (Volumes i and ii) Physic; 15. (Volumes i and ii) Zoology; 16. Grammar, Chronolgy, History, Antiquities; 17. Miscellaneous; 18. (Volumes i and ii) Papin, Hawksbee (sic), Desaguliers Papers; 19. Questions and Answers; 20. Hooke Papers; 21. Halley Papers; 22. (Volume i and ii) Accounts of Books; 23. (Volume i and ii) Inoculations; 24. Collins, Oldenbourg, Hooke and 25. Political Trade.

Towards the end of the scheme the classification diverges from its model. Although the majority of volumes are classified by subject, there are several which contain collections by individual scientists. There is a chronological run in each volume of the total number of papers.

Conditions governing access:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying forbidden.

Finding aids:

List of contents in each volume giving author, title, date and extent of papers - compiled by A H Church (see volume 22i for his note dated 27 February 1907).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

List of contents transcribed with revisions by AH Church, and prefaced by further corrections for Church's printed catalogue 'The Royal Society: some account of the Classified Papers in the Archives..' (Oxford 1907). The latter contains a short introduction, a list of subjects covered by the volumes and an index of authors. In addition, the guide compiled to accompany the University Publications of America microfilm of the Early Letters and Classified Papers, contains an index to the collection adapted from Church's '...account of the Classified Papers in the Archives' (Oxford 1907). A chronological list of the papers from 1660 is provided by MSG 703-4.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Copied from the Royal Society catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2009.

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