Research into the History of Longitude

December 2014

To coincide with the latest magnificent exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich ‘Ships Clocks and Stars’ it is worth considering the extra work that is being done around the country to help expand our understanding of this key topic in maritime history.

In particular, the University of Cambridge is leading a major research project entitled ‘The Board of Longitude 1714-1828: Science, innovation and empire in the Georgian world‘.

John Harrison's H1 Timekeeper

John Harrison’s H1 Timekeeper. NMM: ZAA0034

Th research project is intended to ‘result in the first comprehensive history of the British Board of Longitude, examining its changing role as an influential player in Georgian culture. As a collaboration between the Deparment of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and the National Maritime Museum (NMM), the project will also have a range of outputs aimed at academic and broader audiences, including exhibitions and displays, talks and events, publications and web resources.’

The project research will bring together two unique resources. The Board of Longitude papers in Cambridge University Library offer rich but underused evidence of British ingenuity and invention during the industrial revolution. They will be researched alongside the internationally important collection of instruments and other material evidence of the Board’s activities at the NMM.

This wonderful project has already produced a significant quantity of high-class scholarly material, which can be browsed here.

If you are a researcher – undergraduate, postgraduate or private – currently working in this field, do get in touch so we can help this scholarly community grow.

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