PhD Placement Scheme 2021-22, ‘Cataloguing Hans Sloane’s Natural History Albums’

Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) collected books, manuscripts and objects from around the world, numbering over 71,000 items, which were bequeathed to the nation. Sloane’s collection formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum and was subsequently, dispersed across the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the British Library.

The Library’s Modern Archives and Manuscripts department is responsible for western manuscripts dating from 1601 to 1950, including 4,000 manuscripts from Sloane’s collection. The Sloane manuscripts include a number of albums of natural history drawings and works on paper, from botanical illustrations to anatomy studies.

Selected albums have recently been catalogued and digitised as part of research projects, but many remain either uncatalogued or only partially listed online. A number of printed and manuscript catalogues exist for these albums. This placement will build on recent work by reviewing, identifying, and cataloguing these volumes. The work will help facilitate digitisation, conservation and improve access to the material for researchers.

In 1687 Sloane travelled to Jamaica as physician to the English governor. On his return, he married an heiress to sugar plantations in Jamaica which were worked by enslaved people. The profits from these plantations contributed substantially to Sloane’s income and financed his collecting. One of the aims of this project is to make visible areas of Sloane’s collection which have hitherto been absent from online catalogues. Updating and adding geographical markers and place names within the catalogue will ensure that these objects are set within a wider global historical context.

Deadline for application: 5pm on Friday 18 December 2020.