News-sheet — Summer 2010 (July/August)

. . . it is a mistake to believe that we remember best what we did when we were young; for then we did countless things which we no longer remember at all. . . .

— René Descartes to Marin Mersenne (Monday, 6 August 1640)
(EE letter id: descreCU0030151a1c)

I. Latest news

Announcing: Electronic Enlightenment colloquium on the sociology of the letter!

We are excited to announce the first in what will become an annual series of colloquia on the "sociology of the letter". Our first meeting will be held on the 13th November 2010 at St. Anne's College, Oxford. For more information, please see our EE Colloquium 2010 pages.

Alternative calendaring

As our user community will realize, EE's content crosses the various boundaries of the Julian, Gregorian and Revolutionary calendars. At different times and in different locations, the dating of letters (for their authors and recipients), followed the new Gregorian, the older Julian or even the French Revolutionary calendars. To provide a consistent and modern chronological order for the letters, EE registers the Gregorian date as the default value. This is the date used for sorting and for presentation of the "title date" for each document — which is why one sees an apparent discrepancy between the date in the title of a letter and that in the body of the letter.

Dates (Julian / Gregorian / Revolutionary)

J:  6 December 1793

G:  17 December 1793

R:  septidi, 7 frimaire An 2

the new date presentation . . .

Now, after extensive work on EE's calendaring system, we are pleased to present the letter date displayed in Julian, Gregorian and Revolutionary forms. This information will be presented in the left-hand Meta bar of every letter. One caveat: although introduced in 1582, the Gregorian reform was only gradually adopted country by country across the next 350 years, so we've projected both calendars from 1582 to the 20th century to cover all contingencies; while we've only supplied Revolutionary dates from 22 September 1792 to 21 December 1813 (Gregorian), or 11 September 1792 to 9 December 1813 (Julian).

Quotation display

As part of an ongoing programme refining and standardizing additional levels of tagging and formatting across all of EE's materials, we have been identifying quoted prose and verse within letters. This will significantly improve the display of quoted material. Again, with a caveat: current limitations on formatting verse on a webpage mean that all poetry in EE is currently presented with centred lines; this will be reviewed on a regular basis, and presentation will be refined as systems and standards allow.

EE Atlas — improvements and additions

Bibliographic details for all the maps in the EE Atlas have been revised and are now presented in a more consistent and informative way.

In this month's update we are introducing a new section to the EE Atlas: Roadways maps. Initially, we have provided two examples of John Ogilby's innovative strip maps of British roads from the 1736 edition of Britannia Depicta: the first showing part of the route from London to Aberistwith, as it passes through Oxford; while the second shows the route from Oxford to Bristol, with a fascinating marginal description of "The City of Oxford".

We have also added sheet 12 (the first of 20) from A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto, courtesy of David Rumsey/Cartography Associates. This particular sheet has five inset maps including "New York and Perthamboy harbours", "The town and harbour of Charles Town in South Carolina", "The Bermuda or Summer Islands", the "Harbour of St. Augustine" and "The Harbour of Providence".

Finally, we have made the detail from Carta quinta generale di Europa "Seadragon enabled", allowing you to see greater detail than was previously available (for more details on Seadragon see Building our atlas).

II. Miscellany, Summer 2010

Sports 2010 & the 18th century

In this month's Miscellany, "Sports 2010 & the 18th century", you'll find a comparison of the social and commercial significance sports holds today versus the eighteenth century, as well as some interesting letters making reference to sporting activities.

III. New Documents

The Correspondence of Robert Boyle, volume 4: 1668–1677

EE is pleased to announce inclusion of the fourth volume of The Correspondence of Robert Boyle, ed. Michael Hunter et al. (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2001). The forth of a six volume edition, this volume will add 345 new letters and documents and 82 new biographical notes to the collection. Here are a few sample letters:

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