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Papers of the Board of Longitude : Papers on instruments and publications

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This volume, the second part of <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00013'> (RGO 14/13)</a>, similarly shows us the practicalities of running an institution like the Board of Longitude. Where the first half deals mostly with the instruments owned and lent by the Board, this volume deals with the publications.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In RGO 14/13 are the <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00013/141'> lists of recipients (RGO 14/13:93r)</a> deemed worthy of the Board's publications, mostly the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> , but also whatever other publications the Astronomer Royal thought appropriate. The volume contains the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(55);return false;'> correspondence (RGO 14/14:259r)</a> relating to those gifts, and provides an insight into the communication networks that revolved around the Board. Recipients, beyond the Commissioners themselves, included the computers of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i>, other national and international societies, schools, universities, and observatories, and a long list of named individuals. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(177);return false;'> Letters (RGO 14/14:318r)</a> from the Royal Society show how often they had to send such thank yous as the text is pre-printed with spaces. A number of letters include requests to be included amongst the recipients of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i>, such as <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(181);return false;'> one (RGO 14/14:320r)</a> from the Observatory at Armagh (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>historical images of the observatory</a> at the Archives of Armagh Observatory), and some offer publications in return. Letters that accompanied gifts stem from as far afield as Russia and the United States.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Similarly to RGO 14/13, this Volume also includes lists of Board papers and publications. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(255);return false;'> One list (RGO 14/14:357r)</a> suggests the numbers of old copies of the <i>Nautical Almanac</i> in the Board's warehouse that might now be sold as waste paper. The papers and books belonging to the Board are listed carefully in numbered 'packets', the contents of which are then itemised to varying degrees of detail. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> Packets start to be dated (RGO 14/14:400r)</a> from around 1819 suggesting that this sign of increased efficiency stems from Thomas Young's (see <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>portraits</a> at the National Portrait Gallery) employment as secretary to the Board.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Katy Barrett<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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