BSHS Engagement Fellow

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Job Type: Fellowship

Application Deadline: January 3, 2017

(A funded placement opportunity supported by the British Society for the History of Science)

Bristol Museums Development Trust supporting Bristol Museums & Archives

Jamaican Natural Science Collections: Illustrated Manuscripts & Herbarium (1750s – 1790s)

We are pleased to announce the opportunity for a current postgraduate student working in the history of science, technology and medicine or a closely-related field to work with the curator of natural science at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, researching the Jamaican Natural Science collections. The Fellowship is worth £1,000, which will support up to one month’s work (20 working days) on a part-time basis (one or two days a week, preferably Tuesday or/and Thursdays) from January 2017, with further funding of up to £500 towards project outputs. All work is expected to be complete by the end of June 2017.

The collections to be studied comprise 3 volumes of bound herbarium (1786-1790s) collected from Jamaica by Bristol-born Dr Arthur Broughton; 4 volumes of illustrations of Jamaican natural history and accompanying handwritten text including The Elegancies of Jamaica by Reverend John Lindsay (1758-1788); and an unpublished manuscript of Robert Long containing his theorems on the natural history of Jamaica with drawings (1750s).

This placement provides the opportunity to develop and extend the enormous potential of this collection, and link it to Jamaican communities in Bristol and Jamaica as well as connecting it with scientists and historical researchers. The Engagement Fellow will also have the opportunity to present their work alongside similar projects at the BSHS Annual Conference to be held at the University of York, 6-9 July 2017.

The successful appointee will lead on two or more of the following areas:

  • Researching the social history background of Broughton to understand his role and impact on the community and the landscape of Jamaica. This will include all resources collected by the curators on their 2016 trip to Jamaica and within the museum’s historic files
  • Supporting curators with their work on identifying the most scientific, historic and culturally significant Jamaican material and preparing for publication
  • Comparing the botanical and historical contexts of Broughton’s herbarium with that of Sir Hans Sloane (collected 1687-1689) held at the Natural History Museum, London
  • Researching into the economic and cultural significance of the Breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) and comparing the Breadfruit recipes made by the Dutch in the ‘East Indies’ transcribed by Broughton with those made today
  • Researching more closely into the texts of Lindsay and Long to establish the importance of the specimens portrayed as materia medica or as food sources

The successful appointee will then:

  • Collate all the current research findings and archive material into a more easily accessible resource for research and engagement
  • Research and develop opportunities for community engagement
  • Help to publicise this work and the current work of the curators
  • Update the web and social media with any new findings and help to promote the benefits of international collaboration by supporting curatorial out reach

Potential outputs, with support from the Natural Sciences curators:

  • Producing and updating Wikipedia pages on Robert Long, Rev John Lindsay and Dr Arthur Broughton; making the world aware of the information we hold in our archives
  • Developing Bristol Museum’s collections online to capture significant scientific, sociological and historic information, by inputting individual specimen data into our KE EMu collection management system
  • Linking non-science groupings to the searchable specimens, allocating additional search categories from areas such as medicine, household items or recipes
  • Running events with Jamaican communities in Bristol or with the Natural History Museum, Jamaica, from exchanging breadfruit recipes to highlighting rare endemic Jamaican plants with the Community Engagement team
  • Promoting via local articles, international portals used by scientists interested in the collection and via social media for a more popular audience
  • Curating freshly collected plant material from Jamaica (2016) into the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery Collection

Support and training

  • Provided with a unique opportunity to work within a multi-disciplinary museum
  • To gain a better understanding of the Natural Science Collection, its purpose, use and importance and the background to the research so far
  • Provided with professional training on curation of a botanical collection
  • Trained in data input of a multidisciplinary system, KE Emu
  • Provided with a work station and support from the project’s curator
  • Mentored by the Outreach and Education Committee of the BSHS

Application Procedure

Please send electronically or in hard copy an expression of interest of no more than one side of A4 and a CV to Rhian Rowson (, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Rd, Bristol, BS8 1RL), Natural Sciences Curator, to whom enquires can also be directed by telephone (0117 9223597). The deadline for receipt of applications is 3 January 2017.

Posted: December 06, 2016