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Darwin's Letters Now Archived on the Web

By unusualsuspect     May 22, 2007 in Technology
With the recent online launch of the Darwin Correspondence project, everyone can now have access to material that was once reserved for scholars.
The project, which has existed offline since 1974, has published 15 volumes of Charles Darwin's letters to nearly 2,000 people over his lifetime. Now, 5000 of those letters are in a searchable database, plus summaries of an additional 9,000 letters. Additional letters will be added to the database, with a delay of four years after the publication of each print volume.
Darwin was a prolific letter writer, and the database has letters he wrote at the age of twelve to his sister Caroline, and letters written during the five year voyage of the Beagle when he gathered so much of the evidence for the theory of natural selection. Some of the most interesting material is in his correspondence with other scientists, particularly with Alfred Russel Wallace, and is vital to an understanding of the development of his ideas about the evolution of species.
Dr Alison Pearn, co-director of the Darwin Correspondence project, said: "I think the human side is what is arresting about the letters. There is such an interesting and exciting mixture of very cutting-edge science and very personal revelations about his life and family."
The new site also has supplemental sections such as Darwin and Religion, and Darwin and Science, the latter of which is still under development. This project, thanks to Cambridge University, will be a central point for anyone who wishes to learn more about Darwin's life and work.
More about Darwin, Evolution, Origin species