merely within Sweden did Linnaeus pursue a wealth of correspondence
with all Inquiring Parties, but also with many foreigners, and in
particular with the most learned and Inquiring in Europe […]
whereby not only was he promptly notified of what new discoveries
were made in Europe, but also given access to them, so that most
of the Books published were made over to him gratis […] This
valuable collection of Letters would be worthy to be made public,
containing many hundreds of letters, in which is discussed everything
remarkable that has arisen from 1735 until his death."
(From Vita Caroli Linnaei, III)
Carl Linnaeus was well aware of the scientific value of his correspondence.
By the time of his death in 1778 he had received more than 3,000
letters from Europe, America, Asia and Africa. These were received from
natural history scientists like himself, as well as from his students on different expeditions all over
the world. Linnaeus had more than 600 correspondents!
Together with the 2,000 letters preserved from Linnaeus himself, this material represents an invaluable source of information for scholars of science as well as of history.
As part of the preparations for the Tercentenary in 2007 of Linnaeus birth, the Swedish Linnaeus Society initiated a publication of Linnaeus' correspondence. A similar project had been initiated 100 years earlie. However, due to lack of funding the project ended after ten volumes.
The digital publication of Linnaeus’ correspondence is still under progress and has since 2013 been taken over by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The letters are available at linnaeus.c18.net. They are both published as digital
facsimiles, and accompanied by a detailed
summary in English with links to biographical and bibliographical
The Linnaeus' correspondence project is funded by the Swedish Central Bank
through Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Support has also been given by the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, Uppsala University and The Linnean Society of London.
To Linnaeus' correspondence
Linnaeus’ study in his
home in Uppsala.