The Correspondence of Jan Swammerdam (172 letters)

Primary Contributors:

ePistolarium, CKCC project, Huygens ING, The Hague

Jan Swammerdam (1637–1680)

Swammerdam was born in Amsterdam, the son of an apothecary. He studied medicine at Leiden before travelling to France between 1663 and 1665. Focussing ever more narrowly on entomology, his studies ceased to be funded by his father, who urged him to practice medicine. By 1675, he was in contact with the Flemish mystic Antoinette Bourignon who caused him to renounced his research and devote his life to the spiritual. He died in 1680, possibly of malaria.

Partners and Additional Contributors

The Circulation of Knowledge project [CKCC] was established in 2008 as a partnership between the Descartes Centre at the University of Utrecht, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING), the Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS), and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The project began by digitizing the metadata and curating existing full-text transcriptions of c.20,000 letters to or from nine prominent intellectuals resident in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. In 2013, this material was published as open access in a sophisticated web application — the ePistolarium — which provides scholars with multiple means of exploring and analysing both metadata and full texts across all nine correspondences. As well as conducting full-text searches, mapping and graphing the metadata, and extracting people mentioned, the ePistolarium is capable of interrogating the entire corpus to analyse and visualize co-citation networks, and produces the results of keyword extraction and experimental topic-modelling.

CKCC’s 20,020 records represent the largest single dataset contributed to EMLO during the second phase of Cultures of Knowledge. The re-publication of these records within EMLO marks the inauguration of the rolling incorporation of major new catalogues which will continue throughout 2015 and beyond. As well as integrating CKCC’s metadata into an expansive union catalogue, EMLO’s records link back to the original letter texts published within the ePistolarium.

The metadata and transcripts for Jan Swammerdam’s correspondence were supplied to CKCC by Huygens ING under the supervision of Eric Jorink. EMLO would like to thank Walter Ravenek for his careful preparation of CKCC metadata and Miranda Lewis for her work on the people and place records associated with the correspondence.


Swammerdam’s correspondence represented currently in EMLO comprises 172 letters that range from 1664 to 1680, the year of his death.

It should be noted in the dating of this correspondence that the Gregorian calendar has been used throughout.

Further resources

The Correspondence of Jan Swammerdam (1664-1680), ed. Eric Jorink, Annemarie Nelissen, and Floor Haalboom is in preparation and will be published in The Hague as volume 5 of the Tools and Sources for the History of Science in the Netherlands, series ed. Huib Zuidervaart and Ilja Nieuwland (Huygens ING [KNAW; forthcoming, 2015]).

Launch Catalogue

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