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The manuscripts of Thomas Harriot (1560–1621)

Summary The Project "The manuscripts of Thomas Harriot (1560–1621)"aims not only to publish Harriot’s surviving papers but to organize them in such a way that readers can find their way more easily through the disordered raw material. We have therefore classified the papers into several main topics: navigation, mechanics, optics, algebra, geometry, astronomy, and so on. Within each topic, there are further subdivisions, down to small related groups of manuscript pages. This structure can be navigated through sequences of clickable maps.
Research group Matthias Schemmel (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), Jacqueline Stedall† (University of Oxford), Robert Goulding (University of Notre Dame)
Library Urs Schoepflin (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
IT support Dirk Wintergrün (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science),
Klaus Thoden (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, partly funded by DM2E)
Project partners Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
University of Notre Dame, USA
British Library, United Kingdom
Petworth House Archoives, United Kingdom
Context I Thomas Harriot (1560–1621): life and work
II History of the manuscripts
III The Harriot Online Project
IV Bibliography
Licence agreementsThis project is the result of scholarly work.
The editors are Jacqueline Stedall†, Matthias Schemmel, and Robert Goulding.
Unless stated otherwise the archival material published on this website may not be used for publication or commercial purposes without explicit and written permission from the respective institutions and/or individuals who own the copyright. Please contact the corresponding archive or collection directly or send a mail to MPIWG Library.
For general information concerning the respective copyright policies of these institutions, see the Max Planck Institute.

Access to manuscript collection by topics

Index of topics

This project is the result of scholarly work.
Please cite as:"Jacqueline Stedall, Matthias Schemmel, Robert Goulding: Digital edition of Thomas Harriot's manuscripts, 2012– .".

The work of the English mathematician and philosopher Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) is amazingly broad, ranging from the concern with linguistic and ethnological questions to the theory of algebraic equations. In particular, topics of practical mathematics and natural philosophy that concerned also Galileo, such as fortification, shipbuilding, astronomy, optics, and mechanics, play a central role in Harriot's work. However, unlike his famous Italian contemporary, Harriot did not publish any of his scientific results, the only exception being a small report on his voyage to the New World that he undertook as versatile expert in the service of his first patron, Sir Walter Ralegh. Harriot's work therefore has to be reconstructed from his manuscripts. This fact has considerably hampered Harriot's reception, not only by his contemporaries, but also in the history of science.
Here, for the first time, a large selection from Harriot's manuscripts is made openly accessible through an electronic presentation: Harriot's notes on motion. Harriot left about 8,000 folio pages mainly containing his working notes and only few pages prepared for presentation (Add MSS 6782 - 6789 in der British Library and HMC 240, 241 in Petworth House, Sussex). The selection presented here contains about 350 folio pages preserved in the British Library. The folios have been chosen in a survey of the total of 8,000 pages by rough analysis of their contents in the attempt to produce a collection as complete as possible.
The notes document Harriot's work on the problem of motion in which he is primarily concerned with projectile motion and the motion of fall. The manuscripts are, however, highly unordered. Based on the results of scholarly work, the electronic presentation will in the near future be increasingly complemented with navigational tools that shall make the manuscripts more accessible.

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