Friday, February 09, 2007

Order, Chaos and Linnaeus

Our group gathered to discuss Wilfrid Blunt’s Linnaeus: the compleat naturalist at yesterday’s meeting of Leafing Through the Pages, the Sterling Morton Library’s book discussion group. The group explored this great scientist’s life, work and studies. In addition to our conversation, the group viewed a number of resources by and about Linnaeus held by the Library. From our Special Collections, they were dazzled by:
Hortus Cliffortianus, 1737.
Genera Plantarum, 1737.
Flora Lapponica, 1737.
Hortus Upsaliensis, 1748.
Systema Naturae, 1748.
Species Plantarum, 1753.
Materia Medica, 1787.
This is just the tip of our Linnaean iceberg! In addition to the volumes that were shared with the group, we have other editions of works by Linnaeus along with a number of facsimiles. As a counterpoint to works by Linnaeus, the group also viewed works by some of his contemporaries. The group looked at:
Historia Plantarum Rariorum by John Martyn, 1728.
New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus by Robert Thornton, 1807.
Flora Japonica by Carol Peter Thunberg, 1784.
The Gardener’s Dictionary by Phillip Miller, 1741.
Also gracing the display were two works from our Art Collection by another contemporary of Linnaeus,
Georg Dionysius Ehret. The group was able to view a wonderful original painting by Ehret of an eggplant and a print of the banana plant.
2007 marks the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus’ birth so I suspect you will be seeing lots more about this significant individual during the year long celebration. Snooping around, I found a number of interesting sites highlighting this great scientist. Worldwide there will be a series of special events planned to mark his birth and I encourage you to explore these opportunities!
Sweden’s national tercentennial celebration
Uppsala University celebration of the Tercentenary
Linne on line from the Uppsala University
Order from Chaos: Linnaeus Disposes - exhibit at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
Linnaeus Link is an international collaborative project to improve access to Linnaean collections through the creation of an on-line union catalogue of Linnaean material on the Web.
The Linnean Society of London
Wikipedia article about Linnaeus

If you wish to explore the many resources by and about Linnaeus in the collections of the
Sterling Morton Library, please contact me at

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