Access the AHRC-funded Italian Academies project and the British Library Italian Academies database, a collaboration between Royal Holloway University of London, the University of Reading and the British Library.

Issue 5

The Italian Academies 1530-1650: a Themed Collection Database.

Issue 5 Winter 2008


Once again we must apologise for the delay in issuing this number of the Italian Academies e-bulletin. We have in fact been very busy steadily developing the database, but decided to wait to issue this number until we could advertise the public availability of the resource (see below). We are now virtually half way through the project as far as AHRC funding is concerned, and are already beginning to plan for the next phase, with discussions on which centres and academies to bring in at this second stage, sources of funding, and collections and libraries to be involved. As ever, we would welcome comments and views on this.

The catalogue

Inputting of data has continued at a good rate as we seek to maintain the progress achieved in the first year of operation. Data for academies in Bologna is now complete and includes the musical academies operating in that city, with information drawn from the BL Music catalogue. The data on Bologna will, of course, be subject to constant review and revision as it is expected that more information will come to light as other academies are surveyed. One of the important discoveries of the research on this project is the interaction, cross-fertilisation and frequent joint membership of academies both within a city and between cities. Data collection in respect of Padua is progressing well and should be completed within the year, according to the original schedule. Indeed we expect to start work on academies in Siena and make good progress on these before the end of the funding year (September). Naples continues to occupy a great deal of time, above all because of the riches in terms of numbers of academies, members and their publishing activities. The information coming to light through this research is laying the foundations for considerable amount of new work in many fields on the Renaissance and Baroque in southern Italy.


In the last bulletin we reported on the generous allocation of funding from the BL to allow us to incorporate images into the records in the database. Collection and copying of images has continued, and more than 200 images have now been loaded into the system, with more being added in regular batches. The images include portraits of academicians, emblems and devices, as well as some bindings and title pages.

Public access

We are delighted to announce that following rigorous testing in the BL by the eIS the database became available to readers in the BL Reading Rooms in November:

It has just become available over the web from anywhere in the world: and scroll down the page to come to the heading for Italian Academies. This will take you straight into our front page and instructions for use.

Now that the database is publicly available we very much hope that you will begin to use it, explore it and let us have comments, feedback etc to allow us to refine it further to enhance its usefulness to scholars. Comments on how it has facilitated your research and study would be especially welcome.


The Project Management Group have continued to seek ways to promote and publicise the project. In September the Italian Studies Library Group bulletin carried an extensive article by Denis Reidy describing the genesis, aims and objectives of the project and achievements to date. The project web pages are now incorporated into the Royal Holloway School of Modern Languages site: on the front, index page select Research Projects (Italian) from the middle column. In January, the Bologna pages of La Repubblica carried a full page interview with Dr. Simone Testa describing the project, and focussing on the Bologna academies surveyed. This has had an impact in Italy on which we hope to build. An article is in preparation for the academic journal Bruniana e Campanelliana describing the project, and one is also planned for Accademie e Biblioteche d’Italia. This latter is designed to stimulate interest among librarians in Italy in preparation for our promotional visits in 2008-09.

Presentations are currently planned for libraries within the UK for the period March-May 2008, at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester (John Rylands) and Edinburgh (National Library). We have also been granted a plenary slot at the July conference in Dublin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, and are due to be in the programme for the Bibliography in Modern Languages seminar in June.

Regular meetings

The PMG has continued to meet regularly on a monthly basis, with reports from the investigators, the research assistants and the eIS team on the agenda. The Advisory Panel met in October as scheduled. Simon Woolf and his team have now completed all the development work for the project. They will continue to monitor technical matters. The PMG expresses its most sincere thanks to Simon and his team for all their work and for their collaboration on the project.


Lorenza Gianfrancesco (part-time RA) has successfully completed her PhD on Basile. Denis Reidy meanwhile has taken up his again and is making excellent progress towards his University of London doctorate. Simone Testa continues to develop his academic career with publications on political writing in 16th century Italy and with lectures on Machiavelli for RHUL. Jane Everson is juggling management of the project with the preparation of a new critical edition of Il Mambriano of Francesco Cieco, and a range of teaching and admin commitments at Royal Holloway. We continue to enjoy working together as a team.

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