Verslag van het werkbezoek van de redacteur aan de Royal Society te Londen, 5-15.X.1969

Heniger, J.
Redactioneel Bulletin
no. 3
Leeuwenhoek Commissie

This four-page editorial bulletin No. 3 for November 1969 was found in the archives of the Leeuwenhoek Commission. The newly appointed Alle de Brieven editor J. Heniger reported on his working visit to the Royal Society and the British Museum from 5 to 15 October 1969. He was guided by Rupert Hall and his wife Marie Boas Hall, who were editing the complete correspondence of Henry Oldenburg. Heniger wrote (my translation):

As a general criticism of the design of the annotations of Alle de Brieven, Prof. Hall says that in his opinion, he finds the modern technical discussion of Leeuwenhoek's study objects insufficiently counterbalanced by the historical annotation.

Heniger hoped to find a connection between the letters that Leeuwenhoek sent to London and the reactions of the Royal Society, both in meetings and in letters to Leeuwenhoek. He searched the notes of Royal Society meetings.

"Journal Books Original". ... Vols. 8 through 10 (Jan 1, 1688 to May 27, 1702). - At the approximately 580 meetings held in this timeframe, Leeuwenhoek is discussed more than 60 times; the references cover 75 pages.

He also searched for letters to Leeuwenhoek that would explain the extent to which the Royal Society's responses influenced Leeuwenhoek's research.

"Letter Books Original". ... Most of the pieces related to Leeuwenhoek are in the "Letter Books Original". They not only contain contemporary copies of the English translations and overviews of Leeuwenhoek's letters but also so-called "Extracts", which were often used for printing in the Philosophical Transactions.

Heniger, a biologist and historian, edited only volume 9 of Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters. He was succeeded by historian Lodewijk Palm, who edited the next seven volumes. Heniger's report concluded:

Frequent, if possible annual consultation of the rich "Journal Books Original" and "Letter Books Original" seems to us ... very desirable, especially because

1. - the working of archival materials in the RS from the period, in which a certain part of "Alle de Brieven" belongs, can restore the logical connection between the letters of Leeuwenhoek, if only to go against the widespread opinion that Leeuwenhoek treats problems in a chaotic manner;

2.- there are demonstrable, historical relationships between the activities of the R.S. and that of Leeuwenhoek in forms of mutual influence;

3.- in the archives of the R.S. lie historical documents with background information from the history of natural sciences that can be applied in a meaningful way to the letters of Leeuwenhoek ...

As a result, the topics discussed in each letter from Leeuwenhoek to the R.S. must be carefully tested against the archives of the R.S.