Ref NoGB-110/LM
TitleLinnaean manuscripts
AdminHistoryCarl Nilsson Linnaeus (1707 - 1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist. He is often called the father of modern taxonomy, as he developed the scheme of binomial nomenclature.

Linnaeus was born on 23 May 1707 in Råshult, Sweden, to Nicolaus (Nils) Ingemarsson (who later adopted the family name Linnæus) and Christina Brodersonia. Linnaeus was introduced to plants by his father, a curate and amateur botanist and he enjoyed spending time in the garden with his father and learning the names of the plants and flowers which grew there. Linnaeus was educated at Lower Grammar School at Växjö from 1717 and then the Växjö Gymnasium from 1724 where he was encouraged by his tutor, Johan Stensson Rothman (1684-1763), to study medicine. He followed Rothman's advice and in 1727 attended Lund University to study medicine. However, after only a year, he transferred to Uppsala University where he was able to study both botany and medicine. He studied the use of plants, minerals and animals in medicine. It was here that he came to the attention of Olof Celsius (1670-1756) a theologian and naturalist. Celcius was so impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the young student that he let Linnaeus live with him and have use of his library, which was one of the richest botanical libraries in Sweden. During this time, Linnaeus wrote an essay on the classification of plants based on their sexual parts and one professor, Olof Rudbeck (1660-1740), was so impressed that he asked Linnaeus to become a demonstrator at the botanical garden. Linnaeus accepted and also moved in to Rudbeck's home to tutor some of his children.

In April 1735, Linnaeus set out with his friend, Claes Sohlberg, to the Netherlands in order to take a doctoral degree in medicine at the University of Harderwijk. He took his degree, which involved a thesis that he had to publically defend and an oral examination, and passed after just 2 weeks. He spent most of the next three years in Holland with some travelling to Germany, France and England. In Holland, he was commissioned to catalogue the wealthy banker George Clifford's garden and it was also during this time that Linnaeus was able to publish many of his scientific papers and books.

Linnaeus returned to Sweden in 1738 where first, he practiced medicine in Stockholm. He married Sara Elisabeth Moraea on 26 June 1739, with whom he had become engaged before departing for Holland. He then became a professor of botany at Uppsala University in 1741. During his time working at Uppsala University, Linnaeus undertook expeditions across Scandinavia in order to record and collect information on the country's natural resources. Linnaeus used his new binomial system of nomenclature to describe the plants and animals he found on his travels. He encouraged his students to use this system as well. His first journey was to Lapland in 1732, where he hoped to find new plants, animals and possibly mineral deposits. He was also interested in the native Sami people. Later expeditions took in Dalarna in central Sweden, the islands of Ölan and Gotland, and the provinces of Västergötland and Scania. Many of Linnaeus' travels were commissioned by the Swedish government of the time.

During Linnaeus' career as a professor he had many devoted students. His favourite ones he called his 'apostles', and they made many expeditions around the world, often with his help. Two of the apostles journeyed with James Cook on HMS Endeavour and HMS Resolution. The journeys were often dangerous, and 7 of the 17 of the apostles never made it home to Sweden. Many of those who did gave a selection of specimens to Linnaeus upon their return. The apostles inspired Joseph Banks who began the tradition for all British research ships to have a naturalist on board. Linnaeus was both popular and influential as a professor and scientist. In 1747, Linnaeus was appointed chief royal physician and he was knighted in 1758, taking the name Carl von Linné. Linnaeus suffered from illness towards the end of his career and just a few years after retiring, died on 10 January, 1778.

At the time of his death, Linnaeus' collection was considered among the finest in Sweden. Linnaeus' son inherited his collections, and, having refused to sell the collection to Sir Joseph Banks who was interested, he continued to work on them. Following the death of Carl Linnaeus the Younger, just 5 years after his father's death, the collection was inherited by his mother who sold the collection to the English botanist James Edward Smith. Smith brought the collections to London in 1784 and founded the Linnean Society of London in 1788. The collection currently contains herbarium, fish, shells and insect specimens. Many of these specimens are 'type' specimens - usually the first specimen of the species to be scientifically described.
DescriptionThe Linnaean manuscripts were part of the Linnaean collections which were bought by Sir James Edward Smith at the death of Carl Linnaeus the Younger, or Linnaeus filius (Linnaeus fil.) in 1783. The Linnaean collections also included specimens, and books. The Linnaean manuscripts fonds is divided into 5 sub-fonds: Collection History, which contains photographs, letters, transcripts, and other documents related to the history of the Linnaean manuscripts collection; Carl Linnaeus pater's (1707-1778) manuscripts; Carl Linnaeus filius's (1741-1783) manuscripts; Miscellaneous Authors manuscripts - consisting of essays, treatises and artwork sent to Carl Linnaeus, but which were later separated (by Linnaeus himself, or by later scholars) from the original letters; and the Linnaean Portfolio, containing artwork sent to Linnaeus, or collected by Linnaeus.
Extent859 items
NotesWhen Linnaeus wrote, Sweden had not yet adopted the Gregorian reform of the calendar. Hence the dates of many of Linnaeus's manuscripts are Old Style, i.e. 11 days behind the now accepted New Style. The catalogue follows the dates as entered by Linnaeus.
Finding_AidsBridson, G. D. R., Phillips, V. C, and Harvey, A. P. (1980). "Natural History Manuscript Resources in the British Isles". London.

Uggla, A. H. 1938. The manuscripts forming the Linnaean collections. Unpublished lists and slip catalogue.


Creator NameCarl Linnaeus pater (1707 - 1778) and Carl Linnaes filius (1741 - 1783)
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