Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 24, Number 3, September 2002.

ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)


2002 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


Carl Linnaeus, or Carl von Linne as he was called after his ennoblement in 1762, is Sweden's most famous scientist. Linnaeus is primarily known for having created the nomenclature for plants, published for the first time in Species plantarum in 1753. Born in 1707 in southern Sweden, he studied at the University of Lund and later at Uppsala where he became professor of medicine in 1741. Before his academic appointment, he had a remarkable international career resulting from the introduction of his Systema naturae, published in its first edition in 1735 in Amsterdam. Within less than a decade, most of the biologists in Europe and America accepted his classification system for species of plants, animals, and insects.

Linnaeus's correspondence has always been regarded as important for taxonomists and historians of science. "This precious collection of letters ought to be made public as it contains many hundreds of letters, wherein are treated everything curious, that has happened since 1735 until his death. Pity only that Linnaeus himself never took copies from his own letters, prevented to do that because of much work." Linnaeus himself was also convinced of its great value. His correspondents, he believed, "were the most learned and curious in Europe," who let their Swedish colleague know and take part in what was newly discovered by sending him letters and books.