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Board of Longitude


The archives of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, held in Cambridge University Library, include the complete run of the surviving papers of the Board of Longitude through the eighteenth century until its abolition in 1828. These papers throw a vivid light on the role of the British state in encouraging invention and discovery, on the energetic culture of technical ingenuity in the long eighteenth century, and on many aspects of exploration and maritime travel in the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic.

This project, a partnership between Cambridge University Library, the National Maritime Museum and the AHRC-funded Board of Longitude Project, presents fully digitised versions of the complete archive and associated materials, alongside detailed metadata, contextual essays, video, educational resources and hundreds of links through to relevant objects in the National Maritime Museum's online collections.

Board of Longitude Collections

Collection statistics

Featured Items

Board of Longitude Collection
  • 63,697 images
  • 242 volumes
  • 304 ships
  • 1337 people
  • 777 places
Ships mentioned most
Places mentioned most
People mentioned most

Matthew Flinders on the naming of Australia

Captain Bligh on the loss of his timekeeper to mutineers

Drawings of globe instruments including a movable compass

William Gooch's sketch of a 'Chief of Ohitahoo'

Lieutenant Couch's Callista

First map of Palliser's Islands from Cook's Second Voyage



Under the leadership of Dr Leonard Polonsky and as part of its International Digitisation Project, The Polonsky Foundation has provided major funding towards the development of the digital library's infrastructure.


Content of this collection has been funded by Jisc as part of its Content Programme 2011-13.






Includes content from the collections of the National Maritime Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich.