January 26, 2011
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Note Taking

It gets off to a slow start, but Ann Blair’s Note Taking as an Art of Transmission is a fascinating look at the history of taking notes.

Professional readers like Gabriel Harvey were hired to select the most interesting parts of a book according to precise instructions, for the use of high-ranking officials. Bequests of personal notes were explicitly included in wills and even fought over in cases of disputed legacy. 5The notes of highly regarded scholars were especially valued: I surmise that the sons and nephews who inherited them and pursued learned careers of their own may have put these notes to good use in their own work; there were even attempts made to purchase such notes.

Thanks to John Verity for the lead.