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Darwin?s papers posted on the Internet

by on18 April 2008


Published by the University of Cambridge

Charles Darwin’s writings and images have gone high tech and have been posted by the University of Cambridge, sponsored by the Charles Darwin Trust. The Web site is and contains about 20,000 items and 90,000 images, according to the Cambridge University Library, which holds all of Darwin’s papers.

Among the papers published on the site is Darwin’s first draft of On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection, which was published in 1859, as well as writings for his book, The Descent of Man. The collection includes thousands of notes and drafts of Darwin’s scientific writings, journal entries, notes from The Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, when he began to formulate his theory of evolution, and his questions about the permanence of any species. After Darwin’s works were published the Church of England bitterly denounced his theories as well as Darwin himself, and considered his books heretical.

Darwin lived from 1809-1882 and his scientific research is still enormously influential and important today. His theories of the science of evolution have challenged our understanding of natural history and have changed our views on nature permanently.

The site also shows some of Darwin’s private side, including his personal journal, photographs of Darwin and his family, his wife’s cookbook recipes and some recipes from Darwin himself, as well as notes and many drawings.  Family members have also reflected in writings about Darwin.

According to Dr. John van Wyhe, Director of the Project, "This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free. His publications have always been available in the public sphere, but these papers have until now only been accessible to scholars." He went on to say, "The release of his papers online marks a revolution in the public's access to -- and hopefully appreciation of -- one of the most important collections of primary materials in the history of science."

Last modified on 18 April 2008
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