Introduction to the Darwin Online Manuscript Catalogue

THIS is the first and largest union catalogue of Darwin manuscripts and private papers. It contains c.78,000 records from more than 80 institutions and private collections and is intended to record all Darwin manuscripts in the world. For an introduction to Darwin's manuscripts, click here.

The catalogue is frequently updated and corrected. We have identified thousands of printed clippings, incomplete references, names, mistranscriptions and dates unknown in the original catalogues on which this one is based, making the Darwin Online Manuscript Catalogue by far the most detailed and accurate in the world.

Catalogue entries may be searched or sorted according to the following fields:

All Fields: searches all the textual (i.e. non tick box) fields in the database.
Identifier: the call number from each institution's catalogue, e.g. CUL-DAR80.B7 [At the moment this must be at least two digits long after the DAR number.] Entering less than the full number, e.g. CUL-DAR29, will bring up a list of all specific sub numbers of DAR29. See here.
Name(s): e.g. Darwin Charles Robert, or multiple names e.g. Darwin, Owen
After date: entering a date here restricts the set of returned results to those which are dated after the supplied date. The supplied date may be incomplete, in that it consists only of a year, or a year with month only, or a precise date in the form YYYY-MM-DD
Before date:
Title: searches the title or attributed title fields, e.g. 'Silliman's Journal'
Description: some entries have descriptions with additional information, species names etc.
Document type: note, draft, abstract, figure, photo, printed, datasheet, legal, correspondence, miscellaneous
(clicking one of these links will display all records of that type)
Storage types: Ticking one or both of these will limit a search to only those items whose text, image or both are available in Darwin Online: Available full texts Available digital images Available PDFs

See advanced search help for more detail.

Collections and abbreviations in the catalogue

AAC: The Anderson Auction Company, New York.
: Aguttes auction house, France.
ALS: autograph letter signed
AMNH: American Museum of Natural History, New York.
APS: American Philosophical Society.
BL: The British Library, London.
Bonhams: Bonhams auction house.
BROM: Bromley Historic Collections, Bromley Central Library.
PBL: Boston Public Library.
Calendar: Calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin. (1985, 1994, superceded by the online database)
CC: Christ's College, Cambridge (see also STAN below).
CHG: Charles Hamilton Galleries, New York.
Christies: Christie's Auction House.
CUCNY: Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.
CUL: Cambridge University Library, Cambridge.
CWRU: Robert M. Stecher Collection, Dittrick Medical History Center, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio.
Dibner: Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
CUL-DAR.LIB: Darwin Library, Cambridge University Library.
EH: English Heritage, Down House Collection.
ELGIN: Elgin Museum, Elgin, Moray.
Eton: Anne Thackeray Ritchie Archive, Eton College Library, Windsor.
EUL: Edinburgh University Library.
FM: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
FMB: Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cologny (Genève), Switzerland.
GeolSoc: Geological Society of London.
GHL-HU: Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University, Cambridge Mass.
Goldberg: Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles.
HA: Heritage Auction Galleries, USA.
HIBD: Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
HL: Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Houghton: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
HRM-UTA: Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
JIC: John Innes Centre, Norwich.
KEW: Kew Gardens, London.
KML: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Jacksonville, Florida.
Lehigh: Lehigh University Libraries, Special Collections, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
LINCOLN: Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln.
LINSOC: Linnean Society of London.
Marginalia: di Gregorio & Gill, Charles Darwin's marginalia vol. 1 (books); vol. 2 (periodicals); vol. 3 (abstracts and 'other').
McGill: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University.
MLM: Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
MLS: Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia.
NCM: Norwich Castle Museum, Norwich.
NHM: The Natural History Museum, London.
NHMD: The Natural History Museum, Denmark.
NLS-MUR: John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Notebooks: Barrett et al eds., Charles Darwin's notebooks 1836-1844. (1987).
NRO: Nottinghamshire Record Office.
NT: Leith Hill Place, The National Trust.
NYBG: Charles Finney Cox Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden, New York.
P-BG: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York.
P.L.Stern: Peter L. Stern & Co., Inc, bookseller.
PC-California: Private Collection, California.
PC-USA: A private collection, USA.
PC-Virginia: Private Collection, Virginia.
RCS: Royal College of Surgeons of England.
RGS: Royal Geographical Society, London.
RI: Royal Institution of Great Britain, London.
RoySoc: Royal Society, London.
RRAuction: R R Auction, Boston, Mass.
SA: Statsbiblioteket, Aarhus, Denmark.
Sanders: Nate D. Sanders Auctions, Los Angeles, California.
SCH: Surrey History Centre, Woking.
SCRC-UCL: Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
SHROP: Shropshire Archives, Shrewsbury.
SHSI: State Historical Society of Iowa.
Skinner: Skinner Auctioneers, Marlborough, MA.
Sothebys: Sotheby's auction house.
SPL: Science Photo Library, London.
STAN: David Stanbury collection, Old Library, Christ's College, Cambridge.
Tigre: Museo Naval de la Nación, Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
TCC: Trinity College, Cambridge.
UBC: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
UCL: University College London.
UMZC: University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.
UVa: University of Virginia Library, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Waller: Waller Manuscript Collection, Uppsala University Library.
Whipple: Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge.
WM: Wedgwood Museum, Barleston, Stoke-on-Trent (previously on loan to Keele).
WYL: West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds.
ZSL: Zoological Society of London.

Identifier numbers, because they are used as part of the permanent URL system (web address) in Darwin Online, cannot contain spaces, colons and some other characters. When these occurred in the call numbers of the original catalogues, they have been truncated or replaced with a full stop (period). Some call numbers were not sub-divided or fully itemised in the original catalogues. As unique numbers for each item and entry are required by the Darwin Online software, bracketed decimal numbers (e.g. CUL-DAR262.22.2[.1]) have been added.

The Darwin Archive was first catalogued in 1960 in: Handlist of Darwin papers at the University Library Cambridge (in Darwin Online as A94), this remains a useful concise overview.

Requests to reproduce manuscripts must be sent to the owner of the manuscript, not to Darwin Online. In most instances contact Cambridge University Library: Order Form for Digital Images.


The electronic catalogue of the Darwin Archive at Cambridge University Library (CUL) is reproduced here online for the first time with the kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library. A marked up ascii text form of the catalogue was kindly provided, along with essential and helpful guidance, by its creator Nick Gill. Its content was last updated by the CUL in June 2004. The database also includes the Supplement to the Darwin catalogue at Cambridge University Library, kindly sent by Adam Perkins with further udates and supplements subsequently. In the course of naming the scanned microfilm images of the Darwin Archive according to the catalogue and the ongoing transcription and editing of Darwin manuscripts for Darwin Online, thousands of corrections, datings, identifications, clarifications and supplementary details have been added. Many corrections and additions for the catalogue were sent to CUL.

Other institutions named above also helpfully granted permission for a copy of their catalogues to be included. Many thanks are due to Mary Tilmouth, Candace Guite and Colin Higgins of Christ's College Library for their assistance with the David Stanbury collection catalogue.

Due to the helpfulness and cooperation of the following institutions the catalogue includes fully normalized records for some or all of the Darwin manuscripts from: the Darwin Archive at Cambridge University Library, the American Philosophical Society, Cambridge University Zoology Museum, Cambridge University Sedgwick Museum, the British Library, Christ's College, Cambridge University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Kew Gardens, London, the Linnean Society of London, John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln, Zoological Society of London, Elgin Museum, Elgin, Moray, Keele University Library, Staffordshire, Lehigh University Libraries, Special Collections, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, American Museum of Natural History, New York, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, the New York Botanical Garden, the State Library, Aarhus, Denmark, University of Virginia Library and University College London, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, Eton College Library - Anne Thackeray Ritchie Archive, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge Mass, the Geological Society of London, the Natural History Museum, London and others listed above. The catalogue contains almost 1,000 entries for the collection of English Heritage (Darwin Collection at Down House).

John van Wyhe

16 April, 2008-2023


There are two date fields in the database. One is for online display and the other is used by the software and search engine of Darwin Online. Previously the more informative dates used in the American Philosophical Society's catalogue were used in the display field to benefit readers. However, we learned that this was used by the organizer of a later project (attempting to cover much of the scope and material already done by Darwin Online) to claim, incorrectly, that the present catalogue's data had not been normalized. To avoid confusion the displayed date field now gives the same normalized date format as the machine-read date field.


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