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Davy Notebooks Project

Davy Notebooks Project

Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was one of the most significant and famous figures in the scientific and literary culture of early nineteenth-century Britain, Europe, and America. Davy’s scientific accomplishments include: conducting pioneering research into the physiological effects of nitrous oxide (often called ‘laughing gas’); isolating seven chemical elements (magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, strontium, barium, and boron) and establishing the elemental status of chlorine and iodine; inventing a miners’ safety lamp; developing the electrochemical protection of the copper sheeting of Royal Navy vessels; conserving the Herculaneum papyri; and writing an influential text on agricultural chemistry. Davy was also a poet, moving in the same literary circles as Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and William Wordsworth.

To date, only a very small proportion of Davy’s manuscript notebooks have been transcribed and published. What makes Davy’s notebooks especially fascinating is that they are generically mixed, containing records of his thoughts, scientific experiments, poetry, geological observations, travel accounts, and personal philosophy.

These transcriptions have been provided by the volunteers on the Davy Notebooks Project and the project team.

The Davy Notebooks Project gratefully acknowledges the work of our volunteers:

  • [Volunteer transcribers’ names to be added here].


University of Manchester

Project team co-investigator

University College London

Project team co-investigator


Project team co-investigator and transcription crowdsourcing

Adler Planetarium

Transcription crowdsourcing

The Royal Institution

Images provided by and used by permission of The Royal Institution>

Kresen Kernow

Images provided by and used by permission of Kresen Kernow

UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council

The Davy Notebooks Project team gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in funding the full project (2021-) through its Standard Research Grant scheme. The pilot project (2019) was funded through the AHRC’s Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement scheme.