Open access at Royal Society historical archive


From baby steps to giant leaps?  As the Guardian’s GrrlScientist notes, the Royal Society, established on Wednesday 28th November 1660, has blown the doors off their historical archive – papers published more than 70 years ago – all the way back to the first issue of Philosophical Transactions in 1665.  Not for the first time, but this time it’s permanent.

The BBC have picked out some strange tales from the archive.

And the Big G’s GrrlScientist is “intensely curious to see your weird archive search results“.  And notes

Opening its historical archive is part of the Royal Society’s ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing. It coincides with The Royal Society’s 5th annual Open Access Week, and also comes soon after the launch of its first ever fully open access journal, Open Biology. All of the Royal Society’s journals provide free access to selected papers, hot-off-the-presses. Further, it’s worth noting that all Proceedings B content from 2001 onwards is open access one year after publication, whilst all post-2001 Proceedings A content is open access two years after publication. The Royal Society’s two newer journals, Biology Letters and Interface, are open access one year after publication.

“I’m delighted that the Royal Society is continuing to increase access to its wonderful resources by opening up its publishing archives”, said Professor Uta Frith FRS, Chair of the Royal Society library committee, in a press release.

“The release of these papers opens a fascinating window on the history of scientific progress over the last few centuries and will be of interest to anybody who wants to understand how science has evolved since the days of the Royal Society’s foundation.”

Indeed.  As I mentioned during the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society

I’ve previously described utilising Slugger’s archive, to some extent, in terms of a Baconian history.  But that was before the re-vamp… [*ahem* - Ed]

Of course, not everyone is a fan of Francis Bacon…

And here are some of the wondrous, wondrous things I found when the Royal Society temporarily blew the doors off in 2006.  I’ve renewed the links…

An Account of Mr. Benjamin Franklin’s Treatise, Lately Published, Intituled, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America” from Volume 47 – 1751 / 1752.

Edmund Halley’s account of the total solar eclipse over London in 1715, which he had published a map of in advance showing where the shadow of the moon would fall over England, utilising Newton’s Principia Mathematica first published, by the Royal Society, in 1687.

And another Edmund Halley, Isaac Newton collaboration from Volume 19 covering 1695/6 – “The True Theory of the Tides, Extracted from That Admired Treatise of Mr. Isaac Newton; Intituled, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

And Isaac Newton’s first public appearance as a Natural Philosopher, his “New Theory about Light and Colors: Sent by the Author to the Publisher from Cambridge, Febr. 6. 1671/72

And from the very first volume of Philosophical Transactions, page 3, “The Ingenious Mr Hook” reports observing a spot on the biggest of the 3 obscurer belts of Jupiter.

As well as “An Account of Micrographia” also by Robert Hooke, his best known work, and also printed by the Royal Society.

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