All are welcome to the British Maritime History Seminar on Tuesday 27 November, 5.15pm in the Bedford Room G37 of the Institute of Historical Research.

Jessica Ratcliffe (Yale-NUS College), “The Admiralty and ‘Humboldtian Science’”

Between c. 1800–1850, the character and scale of British science changed dramatically. Vital to this transformation was a great expansion of effort directed at data collection and storage. In fields such as natural history, geology, astronomy, terrestrial physics and meteorology, an unprecedented number of globe-spanning surveys were launched, each with the aim of recording, preserving and communicating new information about nature. Historians have generally regarded the Victorian pursuit of ‘big data’ sciences from the perspective of intellectual history; it has been understood, for example, as a turn towards empirical methods inspired by the influence of Alexander von Humboldt. In this paper, I focus instead on the role played by the major patron of this form of scientific practice: the Admiralty.

The British Maritime History Seminar is organised by the National Maritime Museum – for further information see or contact [email protected].