The letter corpus, of great importance in the history of science and scientific instruments, have a special relevance in those sectors of earth sciences where observation facilities distributed across the territory have been set up, such as seismology, meteorology, geomagnetism.
Within the scope of the TROMOS project (1990-2002), systematic research has been hitherto performed into the history of seismology and partly into meteorology in Italy, from the 18th century until the mid-20th century.
Inside TROMOS a new research strand has recently been started up drawing upon the scientific letters between the scholars and directors of the meteorological, astronomical and seismological stations. This new line of research seeks to recover and valorise, from a scientific and historical perspective, the largest number of scientific letters concerning the earth sciences.
The research, widened to the broader community of scholars and sites preserving historical materials, aims to promote and foster the identification, the cataloguing, the electronic scanning and the dissemination of archives of interest for the history of earth sciences and astronomy.
Concomitantly, the project also attempts to promote the recovery, in electronic format, of everything hitherto published: letter catalogues, registries, whole transcriptions of letter; this phase should also be flanked by the digital scanning of the documents.
In order to discuss the methodological aspects of the study of the scientific letters and their scientific relevance, on the 10th May 2002 a seminar was organised, promoted by SGA, INGV and the central Office of Agrarian Ecology (UCEA). At the seminar, where the scholars most committed to this kind of study were participating, the descendents of illustrious Italian scholars of earth sciences were also invited: Mario Baratta (1868 – 1935), Michele Stefano de Rossi (1834 – 1898), Pietro Caloi (1907 - 1978) and Giulio Grablovitz (1846 – 1928), besides a prestigious array of representatives from the leading Italian archives, whether public, private or ecclesiastic, pertaining to this sector.
We are in the process of launching a web site to set up the first substantial data base core for this research. The data base will contain the cataloguing of over 10,000 letters and the electronic images of over 7,000 letters, about 5,000 from the letter archive of Pietro Tacchini (UCEA) and over 2,000 from the Grablovitz archive, respectively, all materials tracked down and processed by SGA within the scope of TROMOS.
In this phase we are also getting in touch with various institutions that preserve historical correspndences of interest for this research, already partly processed in printed materials, in order to check the availability to collaborate.
Cataloguing, scanning and dissemination are performed in full respect of the rights laid down by the applicable laws and the accords underwritten with bodies or private individuals holding the archives relevant to the study.