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Royal College of Surgeons of England

Aldini, Giovanni: Notebook


Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0262

Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England

Title: Aldini, Giovanni: Notebook

Date(s): 1802

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1 volume

Name of creator(s): Aldini | Giovanni | 1762-1834 | physicist
Clift | William | 1775-1849 | museum curator and scientific illustrator


Administrative/Biographical history:

Giovanni Aldini was born in Bologna, Italy, 1762. He became Professor of Physics at Bologna in 1798. His scientific work was chiefly concerned with galvanism and its medical applications, with the construction and illumination of lighthouses, and with experiments for preserving human life and material objects from destruction by fire. He travelled in Europe, publicly electrifying human and animal bodies, and his performances were extraordinary theatrical spectacles. He came to London in 1802. His most famous experiment took place at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, in 1803, on a hanged man named George Forster. According to newspaper reports of the time, some of the spectators genuinely believed that the body was about to come to life, and were suitably awestruck even though it did not happen. The Emperor of Austria made him a Knight of the Iron Crown and a Councillor of State in Milan. He died in 1834.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to Giovanni Aldini, 1802, comprising an illustrated notebook by an unknown hand, recording experiments on the galvanic fluid by Giovanni Aldini, at the Theatre of Anatomy, Great Windmill Street, Haymarket, 20 Dec 1802. The front cover of the notebook was written by William Clift.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As outlined in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By written appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Librarian.

Finding aids:

Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1928) by Victor G Plarr.



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The provenance of this material is not known.



Archivist's note: Compiled by Anya Turner.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Sep 2008

Experiments | Research work

Personal names
Aldini | Giovanni | 1762-1834 | physicist
Clift | William | 1775-1849 | museum curator and scientific illustrator

Corporate names

London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe