There are two ways to search.
Depending on how you want to use this resource, you can either jump straight to the letter you want to read (if you know its number) – or you can launch our letter browser, which lets you explore all the content.
Click below to launch the letter browser.
Enter Letter number
Search by Numbers
When entering the letter ID, all digits of the letter must be used, including any zeros at the start. That means 79 should be entered as 0079 and 179 as 0179.
Using the Letter Browser
The Letter Browser is an excellent way to gather information for a research project, as a starting point for a research question, or as a quick way to gather information for an essay. You can also launch the letter browser to search by manuscript number or Letter ID.
To limit your searches, you can use AND or OR between words or double quotations around a specific word or phrase like “this” that you want to find. From the search page, you can also check off whether you want to search letters only, or other types of information (such as people and blog posts). You can also limit your queries using the category and listed subject options.
If you have already identified a useful letter via a footnote or reference, you can search by manuscript and folio reference. For example, if you wanted to view the entry for Sloane MS 4037, f. 141, enter 4037 AND 141. If you want to look through the letters in Sloane MS 4037, just enter “MS 4037” (making sure to use the double quotation marks).
You can also use the letter ID search from the letter browser to jump directly to a numbered letters that you have already identified as useful.
If you would like to browse the entire collection, then just launch the letter browser and do not enter any search terms.
Categories and Subjects
You can search using keywords that you want to find, as described above. In the database, you will find references to names (places, people mentioned, authors, patients), medical occupations, ailments, and more. The category and subject lists provide a good overview of the letters, but it is not exhaustive.
The categories were chosen based on the major themes arising in Sloane’s correspondence. The range of topics reflects Sloane’s social life, charitable activities, intellectual interests, and professional roles and offices. The letters are particularly strong on:
- the intellectual world, whether about publication, scholarship, or scientific practices
- medicine, which primarily deals with cases for consultation;
- curiosities, both objects and medical or non-medical reports of wide interest;
- sociability and patronage, such as networks between people and personal relationships;
- collections, including the process of collecting and other collectors;
- objects, both in terms of material history and the trade of commodities.
The subject list is even wider and describes the contents of letters. For example, it is possible to find subjects ranging from book titles, political events, geographical locations, ethnicities, foreign academies, languages, or autopsies.
The medical problem list is a folksonomy, which is derived from early modern categories and understandings of disease, as well as the descriptions or diagnoses given in the letters. Specifically, the list of ailments focuses on symptoms and body parts.
Injuries (including sores and bruises)
Kidney (including “running of the reins,” which could be uncontrolled urination or a regular genital discharge)
Stomach (including bowels)