Scope and Contents
Darwin’s scientific papers include his significant corpus of work on species, evolution and natural selection, and papers relating to the voyage of HMS Beagle, 1831-6. This material consists of: experimental and theoretical notebooks; draft essays; loose notes and scraps of notes, generally organised thematically and referred to as portfolios, which represent the material gathered by Darwin for his publications; correspondence and enclosures; drafts and corrected proofs; collections of abstracts and scientific literature. The scientific papers cover all of Darwin’s major published works and articles, along with the ‘Natural selection manuscript’, a significant draft work which was never published but from which sections of text were adapted for the publication of ‘On the origin of the species’.
The largest part of the archive consists of Darwin’s correspondence with contemporary scientists and thinkers, friends, neighbours and extended family. Correspondence is to be found throughout the archive in almost every class, but there are significant sequences at MS DAR 92-106 and 114-115 (including the Darwin-Hooker correspondence), MS DAR 143-148 (alphabetical sequence, largely of outgoing letters), and MS DAR 159-184 (alphabetical sequence, largely of incoming letters). The Darwin Correspondence Project, which seeks to research and publish all of Charles Darwin’s surviving letters, provides an accessible route to identifying and accessing some 15,000 letters of Charles Darwin.
Darwin’s personal papers include his diary (MS DAR 158), various other journals and notebooks, material relating to his time at the University of Edinburgh, collections of abstracts and scientific literature, photographs, copies of his publications including the 1876 draft autobiography, reviews of his publications and press cuttings. There is also material relating to Darwin’s death and funeral in 1882, the centenary celebrations of 1909 and Francis Darwin’s efforts to collate his father’s papers and letters.
The classes from MS DAR 214 onwards comprise, with some exceptions, the personal papers of Charles Darwin and his extended family, chiefly correspondence, photographs and diaries. These include papers of: his wife, Emma Darwin, specifically a series of diaries, 1824-96 (MS DAR 242); his son, Francis Darwin; his grandfather and father, Erasmus Darwin and Robert Waring Darwin; his grandson, Charles Galton Darwin; his son, Leonard Darwin; his daughter, Henrietta Emma Litchfield, and son-in-law, Richard Buckley Litchfield; his second cousin, William Darwin Fox, a contemporary at Christ’s College, Cambridge; his son, George Howard Darwin and his descendants; his son, Horace Darwin and his descendants; his great-grandfather, Robert Darwin of Elston and the Darwin family of Elston (MS DAR 267); smaller sections relating to members of the Galton, Wedgwood and Cornford families.
- [1662- 1980s], bulk 19th century
Conditions Governing Access
60 linear metre(s)
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
'Supplementary Handlist of the Papers of Charles Darwin': lists acquisitions since 1960.
Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith (editors), 'A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821-1882, with supplement', (Cambridge, 1994).
- Darwin, Emma, 1808 - 1896 (nee Wedgwood, wife of Charles Darwin)
- Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848 - 1925 (knight, botanist)
- Darwin, Leonard, 1850-1943 (scientist and eugenicist)
- Darwin, Sir George Howard, 1845-1912 (Knight, mathematician and geophysicist)
- Darwin, Sir Horace, 1851-1928 (Knight and civil engineer)
- Darwin, William Erasmus, 1839-1914 (amateur geologist, and member of the Geological and Anthropological Societies)
- Litchfield, Henrietta Emma née Darwin, 1843-1927 (editor of Darwin Papers)
- Litchfield, Richard Buckley, 1832-1903 (philanthropist)
- Language of description
- Script of description