About

The Jesuit Science Network (JSN) is the PhD project of Dagmar Mrozik, realized at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Wuppertal University under the supervision of Volker Remmert. It originated from a research project funded by the DFG; the digital infrastructure was provided by the Person Data Repository, a research project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

This page provides introductory information about Jesuit scholars in the early modern sciences and the project itself. For more information, please see the corresponding PhD thesis which will be published soon and made available here.

Jesuit activity in the early modern sciences

Since its foundation in 1540, the Society of Jesus has been inextricably linked with scholarship. Among the topics that the Jesuits engaged in between the 16th and 19th centuries, we find geometry and military architecture, calendars and astronomical observations, and even botany and practical medical knowledge - all pertaining to what we now call the early modern sciences. A comprehensive list can be found further below.

The Jesuit Science Network

As broad as this range is in content, as widely spread over place and time were its practitioners. The JSN was hence devised as the first general overview over Jesuit scholars in the early modern sciences and realized in form of a digital prosopography, i. e., a digital collection of standardized biographical information, with the corresponding website (that you are currently visiting) as its free access point.

The site allows to explore, search, and export the collected information. At the core of the project is the research interest expressed in the four questions after the “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when”.

Early modern sciences

To make a long story short and summarize the sentiments of several introductions into early modern science, ‘early modern science’ itself is the modern attempt to find an umbrella term for those various areas of learned activity in the early modern period that can be considered precursors to what is now often condensed to STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For the practical realization of the Jesuit prosopography, the JSN relies on a list of subjects given in a 1997 paper by Steven J. Harris:

Pure mathematics
Algebra, functions, series; analytical geometry; arithmetic; integral calculus and analysis; geometry; logarithms; number theory, probablitites, etc.
Mixed mathematics
Mechanics; optics (catoptrics, dioptrics); acoustics (harmonies, theory of music and sound); hydraulics, civil and military architecture; mathematical geography (localization, cartography); scientific instruments, physics cabinet
Astronomy
Calendars, almanachs, ephemerides; clocks (dials, horology); spherical astronomy; lunar and solar astronomy (observation and theory); comets (observation and theory); stellar astronomy (observation); planetary astronomy (theory)
Natural philosophy
Commentaries of Aristotle; natural philosophy; philosophy of experience; supernatural and occult questions
Natural history
Cosmography; physical, subterranean, and politcal geography; hydrography; meteorology (observation, instruments); zoology and botany; cabinets of curiosities, collections
Medicine
Health and disease; anatomy, physiology, surgery; experimental medicine
Agriculture and economics
Woods and horticulture; beekeeping; money, measure and weight

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

The sources

The main source for the biographical data collected and presented in the JSN is the twelve-volume Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus. The first nine volumes were edited by the French Jesuit Carlos Sommervogel (1834–1883) between 1890 and 1900 and supplemented by three more volumes in 1909 and 1932; the entire series was reprinted in 1960.

A more modern cornerstone of the project is the four-volume Diccionario Histórico de la Compagñía de Jesús, a Spanish-speaking historical dictionary on the Society of Jesus edited by Charles O’Neill (1927–2009) et al. in 2001. It contains articles not only on Jesuits, but also places, institutions, and even subjects connected to or treated by Jesuits.

Aside from these two fundamental works, the Jesuit Science Network also makes use of a number of smaller studies, most of them with a geographical focus. See the complete list of sources.

Collected information

For each person in the Jesuit Science Network, the same kind of information is collected from the sources:

Name
Norm name, alternate spellings, VIAF
Biographical data
Date and place of birth, date and place of death, entry in the order, resignation, expulsion
Education
Date, place, subject
Career
Date, place, subject, occupation
Miscellaneous
Relations, ‘true’ miscellaneous

Digital infrastructure

The digital infrastructure for the Jesuit Science Network was provided by the Person Data Repository project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. An additional intermediary SQL database allows for more efficient data access. The corresponding source code of the project can be found on GitHub and is provided under the MIT license.