From Pat Ford:
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 14:00:47 +0000
The following article may be of interest to BSW members.
THE LINNAEUS APOSTLES_Â
From: William A Weber [Bill.Weber@...
During the 18th century, Linnaeus inspired 17 of his students to travel to
the far corners of the earth to document local nature and culture. Their
travel cover all of the known continents and they came to be known as the
The publication of a major international series of eight volumes â in all,
11 books of narratives and approximately 5000 pages has been in preparation
for a long time. All of the accounts are published here for the fist time in
English; those who left no journals are described through available sources.
A team of translators have sweat blood for decades to accomplish this
enormous task. I have five of these books so far; they are intriguing and
exciting accounts of what field work was like especially in South Africa,
Japan, the South Pacific, and eastern North America. It is obvious that
Linnaeusâ ties with Dutch botanists, especially their maritime fleets and
colonies, made these trips possible. Captain Cookâs early explorations to
the Antarctic and South Pacific Islands were important also.
That these students were essentially trained in the botanical aspects of
medicine gave these excursions an early example of what we now call "doctors
without borders". They treated illnesses and made extensive notes on the
medicinals used by the local people, at the same time collecting plants,
insects, animals large and small, to fill the museums of Europe. They also
made extensive lists of vocabularies, and illustrated landscapes and the
large wild game animals of south Africa. Having experienced all this in
situ, some really stinging but carefully respectful satire at times is
directed at such famous closet-naturalists such as the celebrated M. Buffon.
They are not dull. These books speak to us today.
Volume 1 (Introduction) is the descriptive one. Here the reader will get a
deeper understanding of the world in which Linnaeus and his apostles lived.
The 18th century was both like and unlike our world today. It was during
this era that the modern world first saw the light of day. The concluding
volume 8 (Encyclopaedia) will include maps, a categorized index for all the
volumes, biographical information on each apostle and a complete
bibliography of all published material, and a list of the most important
collections of scientific material in museums, archives, and libraries
connected to the work of the apostles. The intervening books of narratives
include those of Thunberg, Sparrmann, Kalm, Rolander, Hasselquist, Solander,
and many others. Nothing like this has ever been attempted and is an
important addition to the other publications arising from the recent
celebration of Linnaeusâ birth. The volumes have given me at least a yearâs
amount of fascinating reading and education.
Five of the 8-volume series is now available. For detailed information go to
>,Â or write to IK
Foundation & Company, P.O. Box 70, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 1YD, United