This is a project sponsored by the University of Cambridge, which provides full-text searchable records of over 8,500 pieces of correspondence Darwin wrote before 1871. There are an additional 6,500 letters that have not been fully digitized.
Darwin wrote to more than 250 individuals from the 1840s until his death. The letters are only digitized and included on the website four years after they appear in the print version of Correspondence. Therefore, there is a bit of delay between the published and digitized versions. The letters rarely have date or information regarding the recipient, so the editors have used a number of different methodologies to account for this omission.
The letters provide a fascinating insight into the life and work of Darwin. Many of the key correspondents were other Victorian scientists and naturalists. Darwin frequently used his correspondence to work through complicated theories and hypotheses. If you work in the history of science, you will likely recognize many of these names. However, it goes beyond merely professional acquaintances, and I think the most important contribution are Darwin's letters to his family and relatives. This provides insight into the personal life of one of the most important Victorians.
What to know:
- This is an incredibly important project that provides insight into Darwin's life not otherwise available. While they clearly discuss the most important works, the focus on correspondence provides a more intimate view.
- I really like the learning resources tab. They provide examples for how to use the database for every level of education.
Edited by Jonathan
I am currently an Adjunct Professor of History at Lynchburg College in Virginia. I received my PhD in Modern British History from Florida State University in 2016. My research explores the way in which competing definitions of masculinity influenced army reform in the mid-nineteenth century. Civilians called for moral reforms; however, they were constantly hampered by politician and military officials' financial concerns. This work offers a number of interventions in the current historiography by exploring issues of corporal punishment, soldiers' sexuality, military suicide, and soldiers' families.