- de Meij
- de Molijn
- van den Berch
- Hogenhouck family
- Civic career
- Scientific career
- Phil. Transactions
- Period 1 1673-1679
- Period 2 1679-1686
- Period 3 1687-1694
- Period 4 1694-1702
- Period 5 1702-1712
- Period 6 1712-1719
- Period 7 1720-1723
- Delft in Holland
Chronology of Leeuwenhoek's articles in Philosophical Transactions.
The Royal Society, a radical, upstart group housed in Gresham College, preached experiment and observation, not theory. The members advocated Francis Bacon's inductive reasoning based on observation and experiment. Their meetings featured live demonstrations of experiments by Curator of Experiments Robert Hooke.
According to Sprat's History, they rejected:
amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style ... bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can: and preferring the language of Artizans, Countrymen, and Merchants, before that, of Wits and Scholars.
This learned society produced a journal, the first of its kind. Every month, several articles were published and once a year, they were collected into a volume. Around 1,200 of each monthly number were printed and distributed throughout the world. This journal, Philosophical Transactions, was edited and paid for by its founding editor, Henry Oldenburg. It was the one and only place where, at that time, the plain-speaking, monolingual, uncredentialed, non-theoretical foreigner van Leeuwenhoek, very much the outsider, could tell the world about the wriggling, swimming things, the multitude of little animals, that he was seeing through his tiny lenses.
The Royal Society had been meeting for thirteen years when they received Leeuwenhoek's first letter in 1673. The Society had an early triumph with Hooke's Micrographia in 1665 and it survived founding editor Henry Oldenburg's imprisonment for espionage in 1667. Philosophical Transactions was beginning its eighth year of publication in 1673:
giving some accompt of the present undertaking, studies, and labours of the ingenious in many considerable parts of the world.
The next fifty years of Leeuwenhoek's relationship with the Royal Society is divided into seven periods.
After the death of Oldenburg in September 1677, Philosophical Transactions entered a period of turmoil. For 138 (some sources say 136) numbers over 12 volumes, Oldenburg had been the only editor. He relied for manuscripts on his extensive personal international network, he paid for the printing out of his own pocket, and much of the distribution went back out to that personal network, including Leeuwenhoek.
The table below summarizes what I see as seven periods of Leeuwenhoek's publishing career. See the rationale.
The far right column shows the number of articles written by Leeuwenhoek and published in Philosophical Transactions. Note that the number of articles does not equal the number of letters because three letters were split, as noted on the table. Thus, the 116 articles contained excerpts from 113 letters. Other articles contained excerpts from two or three letters with the same title, but the parts were separately dated and are counted here as multiple articles.
- many articles were not published in the same period in which they were written.
- the three volumes for which Edmond Halley was editor, 16, 29, and 30. He did not publish Leeuwenhoek's letters.
Plot and Musgrave
* Letter 1 of 1673-04-28 divided into two articles in vol. 8 no. 94 and no. 97
** Letter 25 of 1678-05-31 divided into two articles in vol. 12 no. 140 and no. 142
*** Letter 39 of 1683-09-17 divided into two articles, one in vol. 14 no. 159, the other in vol. 17 no. 197
The complete run of Philosophical Transactions is available at the Royal Society Publishing's online archive.
A complete set of all the articles in the first 56 volumes (except vols. 38 - 46) of Philosophical Transactions, including all the articles by Leeuwenhoek, in volumes 8 through 32, is available from WikiMedia Commons: Category: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1665-1886).
The Related Letters, listed below under the expandable Learn more, has all of the letters up to 1702 (Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters vols. 1 - 15) that were translated and excerpted in the Royal Society's journal Philosophical Transactions. They were all given a title, often with the information about author and date that we would now add to a title page.
To give a sense of those titles, the Related Sources below lists the first half-dozen articles of the 122 that Leeuwenhoek eventually had in Philosophical Transactions.
Note that there is not a strict one-to-one correspondence between letters and articles. Several articles contained content from more than one letter. Several letters were spread out over more than one article.
The complete list of articles by year with title.