December 20, 2014

Papers of Europe's First Female Professor to Become Available Online, with Help from Stanford's Libraries

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From the Stanford Report:

Laura Bassi, a noted 18th-century Italian scientist and Europe’s first female professor, left behind 6,000 pages of intriguing documents that describe her life and work. They now rest in the archives of the principal municipal library in Bologna, Italy, safe but not accessible to the world at large.

That is about to change. Stanford’s libraries  have teamed up with the Bologna library and the Istituto per i beni culturali della Regione Emilia-Romagna to scan Bassi’s archives and make them easily accessible online later this year.

“Bassi was widely admired as an excellent experimenter and one of the best teachers of Newtonian physics of her generation,” said Paula Findlen, a Stanford history professor and a noted expert on Bassi.

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Stanford will lend its technical chops to create an easily searchable website. The digitized documents, many of them handwritten, will be translated and explained.

Bassi experimented in her house, which she shared with her husband, Giuseppe Veratti, also a scientist, and their eight children. “Her home was known as a place for interesting and unusual things to happen,” said Andrew Herkovic, the director of communications and development for Stanford’s libraries.

The Biblioteca comunale dell’Archiginnasio, founded in 1801, is one of Italy’s most important municipal libraries. Its rich print and manuscript collections reflect the special place that Bologna holds in the history of science, academia and culture.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.