School of Geography

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Victoria Pickering


PhD student

Room Number: City Centre, Bancroft Building, Room 2.08


Putting nature in a box: Sloane’s vegetable substances

Selection of Sloane’s ‘Vegetable Substances’

Research interests: history of medicine and science, eighteenth-century history, historical geography, history of collecting, eighteenth-century botany, voyages of discovery.

This project forms part of the theme Reconnecting Sloane: Texts, Images, Objects, which aims to understand Sir Hans Sloane’s (1660–1753) collecting practices as an active engagement in the production of Enlightenment knowledge. Sloane was a physician, naturalist, traveller, historian, and collector, as well as a former president of the Royal Society and Royal College of Physicians. He provided the British Museum’s founding collection and yet, unlike his contemporaries, Sloane has received relatively little scholarly attention.

My project investigates Sloane’s collection of vegetable matter, held in individually labelled boxes, housed at the Natural History Museum (NHM), along with the Sloane herbaria, and the corresponding catalogue, to investigate the production of natural knowledge during the early modern period. Using this material collection to understand how it was put together, where different items came from and by whom, and why particular objects were collected, will highlight networks of correspondence and their effects on the production and dissemination of natural knowledge during this period. I am interested in how Sloane used his networks of correspondence in the production of scientific knowledge and to what extent materia medica inspired his collecting practices.

Miles Ogborn (QMUL)
Charlie Jarvis (NHM)

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

Academic background
MSc History of Science, Medicine and Technology (University of Oxford)
BA (Hons) Economic and Social History with an Intercalated Year in Computer Science (University of Birmingham)


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