Copying Images in the Archives of the Early Royal Society


Published by Taylor & Francis Online, Word & Image journal, Volume 35, 2019 - Issue 3

Authors: Sietske Fransen, Katherine M Reinhart (Research Associates), Sachiko Kusukawa (Principal Investigator), Making Visible: The visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society (2015 – 2019)


This article argues that the copying of text and image was a key process in acquiring, approving, and recording knowledge in the early Royal Society of London. In particular, it focuses on how the administrative archives were set up and sustained in the nascent Society to preserve and establish new knowledge through a copying practice. Images were copied alongside texts to facilitate the collaborative scientific practice among the members of the Royal Society; to communicate essential features of an argument; to serve as proof of rare phenomena; and to establish priority for an invention or an idea. This copying practice was part of a unique system of emphasizing, prioritizing, and preserving for contemporary and future Fellows what was deemed important, ground-breaking, or useful knowledge.