Board of Longitude

Scope and Content

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the race was on to find an accurate way of calculating a ship's position of longitude (its vertical position on the globe).

The Board of Longitude was active throughout this period, spearheading and documenting the race to accurately calculate longitude. This collection holds digitised papers relating to the Board of Longitude's work – including meeting minutes, project outlines, maps and details of experiments.

It also offers access to the longitude-related papers of two different Astronomer Royals, Nevil Maskleyne (Astronomer Royal from 1765 to 1811) and John Pond (Astronomer Royal from 1821 to 1835).

Further material comes from the manuscript and print archives of the National Maritime Museum. A selection of modern ‘Longitude Essays’ provide a detailed guide to the collection, linking out to content and giving contextual background. A video guide to the collection is also available on the collection homepage.

Access Information

Unless otherwise stated, content within this collection is licensed under Creative Commons.


This is a description of an Online Resource. Online Resources are websites that describe, interpret and provide access to archives. They often provide access to digital content but they may also describe physical materials. They usually cover a theme or topic, such as an individual, a movement, or an important historical event.

Other Finding Aids


A Jisc funded digitisation initiative. Publisher: Cambridge Digital Library, National Maritime Museum

Additional Information

Scholars of naval and maritime history will be especially interested in this collection. Those studying the development of astronomy and science in public life will also find the collection of use and links to school resources are available on the site.

Content can be browsed and searched. A ‘My Library’ function can be used to bookmark content, but is only available to registered and logged-in users.

Most content can be downloaded and re-used for non-commercial purposes, although users should check the notes next to each individual piece of content before repurposing.

Corporate Names