Now, for the first time, the full story of attempts to solve the longitude problem – unravelling the lone genius myth popularised in film and literature – will be made freely available to everyone via Cambridge University’s Digital Library.
Launched today, the complete archive of the Board of Longitude, held by Cambridge University Library and associated National Maritime Museum collections, will take their place alongside the works of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton on the Cambridge Digital Library site.
Treasures of the Longitude archive, available to view in high-resolution for the first time, include accounts of bitter rivalries, wild proposals and first encounters between Europeans and Pacific peoples. This includes logbooks of Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery, the naming of Australia and even a letter from Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty, who writes to apologise for the loss of a timekeeper after his ship was ‘pirated from my command’.
The University Library’s Digital Library project was launched in June 2010 following a £1.5m gift from the Polonsky Foundation. University Librarian Anne Jarvis said: “With the digitisation of this incredible collection, we have taken another important step towards realising our shared ambition of creating a digital library for the world.”
The Board of Longitude collection is the largest project undertaken to date by the Cambridge Digital Library team, comprising more than 65,000 images.
From the Cambridge U. Digital Library:
The digitised material is supported by a detailed framework of metadata, summaries, essays, videos and educational resources to create a rich and exciting resource for researchers, teachers, students and the general public.
Direct to Board of Longitude Collection