catalogue of the papers of Mary Somerville (1780-1872) is now complete. For the first time, researchers all over the world will be able to have access to the complete listing of the collection which is owned by Somerville College but held by the Bodleian Library. During the cataloguing process some interesting documents have been unearthed including a letter from Charles Babbage inviting the Somervilles to view his ‘Calculating Engine’ (a mechanical calculator that was the forerunner of the modern computer), a request from John Stuart Mill for Mary Somerville to sign his petition for women’s suffrage and a letter from Charles Darwin commenting on one of her publications. The project has been enabled by a generous grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the catalogue may be found and searched via the Bodleian Special Collections website.
Now that the catalogue has been made available online we are working towards the next stage of the project which is to digitise some of the papers themselves for the purposes of preservation and to make them more widely available. Fundraising has begun for this and we hope to be able to start this phase towards the end of 2013. Please contact the Librarian if you would like to help us with this exciting project.