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Darwin Correspondence Project Archive

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10447

Scope and Contents

The archive is divided into two sections, covering the Bennington, Vermont, office and the Cambridge, UK, office. There may therefore be some duplication. Most aspects of the DCP's activities are covered, including appeals for funding, the search for letters, editorial policy, early computerisation, reports, publicity, outreach, and correspondence.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-2022


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers wishing to consult this collection will be required to complete a data release form. Additionally, some material is closed following the Archive's confidentiality guidelines for sensitive data (in compliance with the Data Protection Act (2018)). Some material is closed under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000: Section 41 information given in confidence. Please see individual catalogue entries for details.

Biographical / Historical

The Darwin Correspondence Project was an independently funded research team, jointly managed by Cambridge University Library and the American Council of Learned Societies, and affiliated eith the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge.

Its purpose was to locate and research letters written by and to Charles Darwin (1809–1882), and publish complete transcripts together with contextual notes and articles.

It produced the Calendar of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin (1985; second edition 1994), the 30-volume print edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (Cambridge University Press, 1985–2023), a number of subsidiary publications and a freely accessible website ( hosting a complete database of letter transcriptions and associated materials.

It was founded in 1974 by an American scholar, Frederick Burkhardt, with the help of Sydney Smith, a zoologist in the University of Cambridge, and of Fred's wife, Anne Schlabach Burkhardt. They set out to locate all letters written by Charles Darwin, and originally aimed to publish only summaries. Following a pilot project it was decided to include letters written to Darwin as well as those written by him – an unusual step for a collection of correspondence at the time – and to publish complete transcripts in chronological order.

Since 1975, the Project had a staff of researchers and editors in both the UK and the US, those in the UK being based in Cambridge University Library, where the largest single collection of Darwin’s manuscripts is housed together with his own library of books and journals.

The first ten years of the Project were spent carrying out a systematic search for additional letters, obtaining copies, and transcribing all known letters into an electronic format. (New letters have continued to emerge throughout the life of the Project.) This resulted in the creation of the extensive electronic archive that formed the basis for the editorial work that resulted in both the printed volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and, in due course, the resources on the website.


0.37 cubic metre(s) (37 archive boxes and one framed item.)

Language of Materials



Material was transferred by the Cambridge office of the DCP to the archives after the end of the print-publication programme of the DCP in 2022. Previously, material from the Bennington office had been selected and arranged by Anne Burkhardt and sent to the Cambridge office following the death of the DCP's founder, Frederick Burkhardt, in 2007. Papers of the two offices have been kept separate.

Sam Evans
February 2024
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom