About the Resource
This is an open access scholarly digital edition of Sir Hans Sloane’s manuscript catalogue of the section of his collections known as ‘Fossils I’ (the manuscript catalogue is held by the Library of the Natural History Museum) 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 analysed, transcribed, modelled and then encoded using TEI. The digital catalogue has 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.
Material included in the original collection
This is a bound manuscript volume held at the Natural History Museum in London. ‘Fossils I’ contains the individual separate catalogues titled ‘Coralls’, ‘Serpents’, ‘Echini’, ‘Crustacea’, ‘Starrfishes’ and ‘Humana’. These catalogues contain numbered entries that list and describe a number of the natural history specimens and objects collected by Sir Hans Sloane between the 1680s and the 1750s.
There are 364 folios in total. The Coralls section contains 1178 numbered entries, beginning at folios 1v and 2. The Serpents section contains 454 numbered entries, from folio 109. The Echini section contains 655 numbered entries, from folio 157. The Crustacea section contains of 364 numbered entries, from folio 226. The Starrfishes section contains 174 numbered entries, from folio 265. The Humana section contains 760 numbered entries from folio 277.
Metadata, Media and 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 https://rdr.ucl.ac.uk/collections/Enlightenment_Architectures/5231765
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 have different citations.
Citation for images: Natural History Museum images of Fossils 1 and Fossils V: courtesy of Library and Archives, Natural History Museum, London (Public Domain)
Individual citation for the catalogue: Sir Hans Sloane’s Catalogue of Fossils including Coralls, Serpents, Echini, Crustacea, Starrfishes, Humana. Digital Edition. Victoria Pickering, Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, Julianne Nyhan, Kim Sloan and Martha Fleming Eds. 2019.
The citation page on the website for further info is at
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.