Article ID: CBB205617120

Names and Numbers: “Data” in Classical Natural History, 1758–1859 (2017)

unapi

The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the transition from natural history to the history of nature. This essay analyzes institutional, social, and technological changes in natural history associated with this epochal change. Focusing on the many posthumous reeditions of Carl Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae that began to appear throughout Europe and beyond from the 1760s onward, I will argue that Linnaean nomenclature and classification reorganized and enhanced flows of data—a term already used in natural history—among individual naturalists and institutions. Plant and animal species became units that could be “slotted” into collections and publications, reshuffled and exchanged, kept track of in lists and catalogs, and counted and distributed in new ways. On two fronts—biogeography and the search for the “natural system”—this brought to the fore new, intriguing relationships among organisms of diverse kinds. By letting nature speak through the “artificial” means and media of early systematics, I argue, new and powerful visions of an unruly nature emerged that became the object of early evolutionary theories. Natural history was an “information science” that processed growing quantities of data and held the same potential for surprising insights as today’s data-intensive sciences.

...More
Included in

Article Bruno J. Strasser; Paul N. Edwards (2017) Big Data Is the Answer … But What Is the Question?. Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 328-345). unapi

Article Elena Aronova; Christine von Oertzen; David Sepkoski (2017) Introduction: Historicizing Big Data. Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 1-17). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB205617120/

Similar Citations

Chapter Rupke, Nicolaas; (2008)
The Origin of Species from Linnaeus to Darwin (/isis/citation/CBB000953673/) unapi

Book Gribbin, Mary; Gribbin, John R.; (2008)
Flower Hunters (/isis/citation/CBB000774290/) unapi

Article Fagan, Melinda B.; (2007)
Wallace, Darwin, and the Practice of Natural History (/isis/citation/CBB000773238/) unapi

Article Anderson, Gemma; (2014)
Endangered: A Study of Morphological Drawing in Zoological Taxonomy (/isis/citation/CBB001201296/) unapi

Book Anderson, John G. T.; (2013)
Deep Things out of Darkness: A History of Natural History (/isis/citation/CBB001321144/) unapi

Book Prat, Daniel; Raynal-Roques, Aline; Roguenant, Albert; (2008)
Peut-on classer le vivant?: Linné et la systématique aujourd'hui (/isis/citation/CBB001221140/) unapi

Article Hollier, John; Hollier, Anita; Schnyder, Cédric; (2015)
The Publications and Collections of Louis-Albert Necker (1786–1861) (/isis/citation/CBB001500438/) unapi

Book Richard I. Vane-Wright; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; (2021)
Iconotypes: A Compendium of Butterflies and Moths, Jones' Icones Complete (/isis/citation/CBB318892632/) unapi

Chapter Beckman, Jenny; (2005)
The Swedish Museum of Natural History and the “Linnaean Tradition” (/isis/citation/CBB000620132/) unapi

Book Longair, Sarah; McAleer, John; (2012)
Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience (/isis/citation/CBB001201464/) unapi

Book Newell, Jennifer; (2010)
Trading Nature: Tahitians, Europeans, and Ecological Exchange (/isis/citation/CBB001230901/) unapi

Book Fairman, Elisabeth R.; Art, Yale Center for British; (2014)
Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower: Artists' Books and the Natural World (/isis/citation/CBB001500458/) unapi

Chapter Alberti, Samuel J.M.M.; (2013)
The Organic Museum: The Hunterian and Other Collections at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (/isis/citation/CBB001202343/) unapi

Article Bregman, Leigh Davin; (2006)
“For Sale”: Botanists and the Commercial Trade in Botanical Specimens at the Cape of Good Hope, 1750-1850 (/isis/citation/CBB000771791/) unapi

Chapter Randall, Robert; (2008)
Bath Naturalists: Apothecary to Zoologist (/isis/citation/CBB001022814/) unapi

Article Bennett, Tony; Dibley, Ben; Harrison, Rodney; (2014)
Introduction: Anthropology, Collecting and Colonial Governmentalities (/isis/citation/CBB001201581/) unapi

Article Hoquet, Thierry; (2014)
Laws of Variation: Darwin's Failed Newtonian Program? (/isis/citation/CBB001500028/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Beckman, Jenny
Bregman, Leigh Davin
Fagan, Melinda Bonnie
Gribbin, Mary
Gribbin, John R.
Rupke, Nicolaas A.
Journals
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Leonardo
History and Anthropology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Archives of Natural History
Publishers
University of California Press
Oxford University Press
Manchester University Press
Belin
University of Hawai'i Press
Brill
Concepts
Natural history
Collectors and collecting
Botany
Museums
Evolution
Scientific illustration
People
Linnaeus, Carolus
Darwin, Charles Robert
Wallace, Alfred Russel
Thunberg, Carl Peter
North, Marianne
Hooker, Joseph Dalton
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
20th century, early
17th century
16th century
Places
Great Britain
Sweden
South Africa
Bath (England)
China
Indonesia
Institutions
Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Royal College of Surgeons, London
Hunterian Museum (London)
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
University of Edinburgh
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment