Book Series Techne , vol. 10

Collective Wisdom

Collecting in the Early Modern Academy

Anna Marie Roos, Vera Keller (eds)

  • Pages: 322 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:50 b/w, 4 maps b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2022

  • c. € 85,00 EXCL. VAT RETAIL PRICE
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58806-3
  • Hardback
  • Forthcoming (Nov/22)

  • c. € 85,00 EXCL. VAT RETAIL PRICE

Collective Wisdom analyses the connections between early modern scholarly societies and to what extent these networks shaped the formation of early museums and the categorisation of knowledge.


Anna Marie Roos FLS FSA is the Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Lincoln (UK). Her latest publication, her sixth book, is Martin Folkes (1690-1754): Newtonian, Antiquary, Connoisseur with Oxford University Press which analyses the connections between natural philosophy and antiquarianism in the Enlightenment.  Roos is the recipient of the 2017 John Thackray Medal from the Society for the History of Natural History, and she was recently a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

Vera Keller is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Oregon. She published her first book as an overarching study across the long seventeenth century, Knowledge and the Public Interest, 1575–1725 (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Her second book, Interlopers: Early Stuart Projects and the Undisciplining of Knowledge is forthcoming from Hopkins. As a Guggenheim Fellow, she is completing a third monograph on the polymathic construction of research disciplines, Curating the Enlightenment: Johann Daniel Major (1634–1693) and the Experimental Century (under review).


This volume analyses how and why members of scholarly societies such as the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Leopoldina collected specimens of the natural world, art, and archaeology in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These scholarly societies, founded before knowledge became subspecialised, had many common members. We focus upon how their exploration of natural philosophy, antiquarianism, and medicine were reflected in collecting practice, the organisation of specimens and how knowledge was classified and disseminated. The overall shift from curiosity cabinets with objects playfully crossing the domains of art and nature, to their well-ordered Enlightenment museums is well known. Collective Wisdom analyses the process through which this transformation occurred, and the role of members of these academies in developing new techniques of classifying and organising objects and new uses of these objects for experimental and pedagogical purposes.


Vera Keller and Anna Marie Roos, Introduction

Kelly J. Whitmer, Putting Play to Work: Collections of Realia and Useful Play in Early Modern Educational Reform Efforts

Chantal Grell, Tito Livio Burattini, a Seventeenth-Century Engineer and Egyptologist

Georgiana Hedesan, University Reform and Medical Alchemy in Ole Worm’s Museum Wormianum (1655)

Fabien Krämer, The Curiosi as Collectores: The Publications of the Academia Naturae Curiosorum, c. 1652–1706

Vera Keller, Vernacular Knowledge, Learned Medicine, and Social Technologies in the Leopoldina, 1670–1700, or, How to Publish on Sirens, Dragons, and Basilisks

Philip Beeley, ‘The Antiquity, Excellence, and use of Musick’: Wallis, Wanley, and the Reception of Ancient Greek Music in Late Seventeenth-Century Oxford

Julia A. Schmidt-Funke, Urban Fabric and Knowledge of Nature: Physicians as Naturalists in Early Modern Commercial Towns

Kim Sloan, Sloane’s Antiquities: Providing a ‘Body of History’ through Beads, Bottles, Brasses and Busts

Dustin Frazier Wood, Antiquarian Science and Scientific Antiquarianism at the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society

Anna Marie Roos, The First Egyptian Society

Louisiane Ferlier, Collective Wisdom in the Digital Age: Digitizing Early Modern Collections at the Royal Society