***Please note, this blog post contains references to historic medical practices which some readers may find upsetting***

Winchester’s Morley Library is home to a surprisingly rich collection of 17th and 18th century scientific texts.

The bound series of the Acta Eruditorum – meaning “Works of the scholars” – previously belonged to John Sturges (1736-1807), a prebendary at the Cathedral and Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester. Among the earliest and most significant scientific journals of the European Enlightenment, the Acta Eruditorum ran from 1682 to 1782 and reflects the explosion of fresh scientific interest and ideas of this period.

Academic journals provided an important channel for communicating new scientific studies and innovation to a wider European audience. The Acta Eruditorum, first established in Leipzig and edited by the German philosopher, Otto Mencke, was modelled on examples such the French Journal des savants and the Italian Giornale de’letterati. Each provided a similar medium for the publication of reports, reviews, essays and summaries on a wide range of subjects, including medicine, anatomy, biology, physics, mathematics, philosophy and technology.

Texts within the Acta Eruditorum include depictions of scientific experiments and procedures. The development of magnifying glasses and microscopes enabled the much closer investigation of natural and medical phenomena, as the figures in the image at the top of the page demonstrate.

The image below is from a work by the French obstetrician, François Mauriceau (c.1637–1709), on the treatment of pregnant and postpartum women. Mauriceau was a key figure in the development of modern obstetrics. The image shows examples of the types of instruments used to carry out obstetric procedures.