Digital edition of MS 3972C Vol VI, Sloane’s catalogue of books and printed ephemera

Interactive Data Atlas > Enlightenment Architectures > Digital edition of MS 3972C Vol VI

About the Resource

This is an open access scholarly digital edition of MS 3972C Vol. VI, a catalogue of books and printed ephemera by Sir Hans Sloane (the manuscript catalogue is in the Manuscripts Department of the British Library). The digitised collection is a part of Enlightenment Architectures, a project which has produced open access digital scholarly editions of five of Sloane’s catalogues, Miscellanies, Fossils I, Fossils V, MS 3972C Vol. VI, and MS 3972B.

Enlightenment Architectures was published in December 2019 by the British Museum (BM) in association with the Department of Information Studies and Centre for Digital Humanities at the University College London.

Type of Resource and Contents

This is a historic collection, providing images of Sloane’s catalogue along with transcribed text, encoded using TEI (Text Encoding Initiative).

Information on Digitisation and Digital Creation

The manuscript catalogue has been photographed digitally, analysed, transcribed, modelled and then encoded using TEI. The images and digital catalogue have been published in EVT (Edition Visualisation Technology) which is a software for creating and browsing digital editions of manuscripts based on text encoded according to the TEI XML schemas and guidelines.  EVT enables free text search, highlighting of named entities in the transcriptions, name and place pick-lists, manuscript image zoom and thumbnail views, adjustments of transcription font size, and much more.

Although both the images and the digital catalogue are available on EVT, they are provided separately and were produced separately but were combined in EVT. The photographs were taken by the British Library (BL) and belong to them and were reproduced on EVT with their permission. They are not part of the dataset that has been released online separately.  Just as in BM Collection online, the images are taken from a Digital Asset Database and the text /data are taken from MI+, the BM collections database, and are combined in the BM website Collection Online. Some of the images are not available because the copyright for them is not with the BM and the BM does not have permission to put them online.

Material included in the original collection

Sloane MS 3972C Vol. VI is a bound manuscript volume held at the BL, containing numbered entries that list and describe a substantial selection of the books and printed ephemera collected by Sir Hans Sloane between the 1680s and the 1750s. This catalogue contains 257 folios that have been bound and numbered at a later date, almost all of which contain manuscript markings on both their rectos and their versos, plus a few tipped in slips, some of which contain manuscript markings on both recto and verso. The catalogue contains entries for stand-alone monographs, atlases and bound volumes holding collections of printed materials such as dissertations, treatises, proposals, letters, accounts, missives and other printed ephemera, all of which are catalogued together without distinction between either type or genre. The final 37 folios of the catalogue contain the ‘Min’ (or ‘Miniatura’) entries enumerating and describing Sloane’s ‘books of miniature, painting, designs’.

The exact number of individual entries is not known. We can estimate that each folio might contain anything from 2 to 20 entries. Roughly, the volume might contain anything between 1500 to 3000 individual entries. The exact number of entries can be calculated by parsing the TEI XML file and counting the number of unique bibliographic citations.

Metadata and Media Formats

A set of descriptive – project focused – metadata is available capturing the high-level elements of the resource, such as Release authority, Publisher, Publication place, Project Investigators, Document modelling etc.

The volume is encoded in TEI XML and the contents enjoy both TEI structural elements (e.g. Text Division, Heading, etc.) and the contextual elements; Author, Publication place, Date and Format.

API / Download

The XML TEI version of the catalogue is available from the UCL research depository (RDR) at

Usage and Citation

According to the project website, all data content is reproducible as long as the source is indicated by referencing the publication and the name of the institutional owner of the original catalogue. The images are not downloadable and are subject to copyright (separate citation).

Citation for images: British Library images of Sloane MS 3972B and Sloane MS 3972C Vol. VI: courtesy of British Library (Public Domain in most countries except the UK).

Individual citation for the catalogue:  MS 3972C Vol VI Sloane’s catalogue of books and printed ephemera. Digital Edition. Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, Julianne Nyhan, Victoria Pickering, Kim Sloan and Martha Fleming Eds. 2019.

Further Information

The citation page on the website for further info is at:

Contact Person

Kim Sloan and Julianne Nyhan are the key people to contact. Please feel free to contact them directly, or otherwise contact us to bring you in touch.


Tips for using the Interactive Reader

  • Users can select elements such as date and bibliographic information from the “entities selector” menu located on the bottom menu bar. Depending on the edition entities may include: places, materials, bibliographic information, measures, size, weight, quantity, texture, value, catalogue, and index.
  • The “search” feature in the bottom menu bar enables free text search throughout the catalogues.
  • For some editions the reader also provides a “Lists” functionality, allowing users to locate person names and place names available in the catalogue through a “List of persons” and a “List of places”.
  • The interactive reader also allows for the headings on the page to be read in five languages (English, Italian, French, Czech and German); however not all content is automatically translated to these languages.

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