Introduction to Darwin Online

Darwin Online is by far the largest Darwin resource/publication in the world—and probably the most comprehensive scholarly website on any historical person. It contains 300,000 searchable text pages, 230,000 page images, 119,500 scans of manuscripts, 6,000 PDFs, 18,000 illustrations in books, Darwin's writings in 29 languages, 5,500 bibliographical records in the most comprehensive bibliography of Darwin and 76,200 manuscript and archive records in the largest and most accurate catalogue of his manuscripts ever created covering 80 institutions and private collections. The majority of Darwin's writings have been edited and annotated here for the first time with more than 10,000 new editorial notes and hundreds of new editorial introductions. The complete library of the Beagle has been researched and reconstructed in Darwin Online as has Darwin's vast personal library at Down House.

This website provides the largest collection of Darwin's private papers and manuscripts ever published: c.20,000 items, thanks primarily to the kind permission of Cambridge University Library. Over 9,000 manuscripts have been transcribed so far. These numbers break down roughly as follows:

     130,000 images of publications
     115,000 images of manuscripts

     32,000 pages of transcribed Darwin manuscripts (10,000 of these were previously published)
     61,000 pages of transcribed Darwin publications
     100,000 total pages by Darwin (includes different editions and translations of the same works) These totals do not count the hundreds of Darwin translations provided only as PDFs.
     200,000 pages by other authors (including the Beagle Library)

The pilot website by John van Wyhe, The writings of Charles Darwin on the web (2002-6), was replaced on 19 October 2006 with the launch of this website.

The launch became an international media sensation—reported on television, radio, newspapers, magazines and throughout the internet, reaching an estimated 400 million people. The site was swamped with millions of hits in the first 48 hours, bringing the server at the University of Cambridge down for a short time, twice. It remains the most media coverage of any publication from the history of science field. Subsequent launches, such as Darwin's manuscripts and private papers (here & here) or Emma Darwin's diaries, created similar media sensations. Since then the site has been accessed by tens of millions of readers and from every country in the world. Read about the launch of the site here.

All of Darwin's unpublished manuscripts are being scanned, transcribed or both, if reproduction permission can be obtained. All previously published manuscript transcriptions are included (except in the very rare cases where reproduction permission was denied). Overall the site provides the world's largest collection of material on and by Darwin- and almost all of it is online only here.

Some of the distinguishing features and innovations on Darwin Online include: On the origin of species (1859)

The first complete collection of all Darwin's publications. Many have never been reproduced and almost all appear online for the first time, including many newly discovered items. Publications.

Each text is absolutely complete, nothing is omitted (as so often with online texts) including the spine, end pages and publishers' advertizements.

Both fully formatted electronic text and images of the original document are provided. These can be viewed side-by-side. Example. Darwin's works are also provided in PDF format for downloading and printing.

The most comprehensive Darwin bibliography ever published (building on the superb work of R. B. Freeman): the Freeman bibliographical database. See also the bibliography of works cited on Darwin Online which is the first bibliography of the works cited in Darwin's shorter publications.

Translations. Darwin's works are also available in 29 languages, including: Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Yiddish. More languages forthcoming - donations welcome.

Many of the books are signed by Darwin or belonged to his family: Francis Darwin's annotated copy of Origin, Origin, Journal of researches, Expression, Life of Erasmus Darwin, Coral reefs, Forms of flowers, Power of movment or Emma Darwin (1904) vols. 1& 2.

The largest collection of Darwin's manuscripts and private papers ever published. Click here. Thousands of never before published transcriptions, such as the Galapagos notebook, Beagle animal notes and his student bills from Christ's College, Cambridge and drafts of his books.

The first and largest union catalogue of Darwin's handwritten manuscripts and private papers ever assembled (based primarily on the Cambridge University Library catalogue by Nick Gill) - but including over 80 cooperative institutions and collectors around the world. The catalogue has been improved with thousands of corrections, additions, dates and identifications, making it far more accurate and detailed than the original catalogues upon which it is based.

An extract from Darwin's barnacle notes.
An extract from Darwin's barnacle notes.

Supplementary Works relevant to studying and understanding Darwin and his context, such as reviews of his books (the largest collection ever published) or obituaries and recollections of Darwin (again the largest collection ever published).
Darwin Online
also contains the most complete list ever published of scientific descriptions of Darwin's Beagle specimens by other scientists.

-The Beagle Library- the entire reconstructed library Darwin used during his famous voyage.

-The Complete Photographs of Darwin- the most comprehensive and thoroughly researched listing of the photographs of Darwin by far ever created.

New editorial introductions to help readers understand Darwin's work and context. All of Darwin's shorter publications, the majority of his published items, have been edited and annotated here for the first time.

New items are still being discovered and added to the site as well as further editions and translations when copies become available. These and other newly added materials are listed on the what's new page.

Although Darwin Online is a scholarly resource, jargon and unhelpful abbreviations have been avoided and a major works page provides an accessible overview.

The historical works and database are fully searchable. Searches can be limited by name, date, title and so forth, in addition to a powerful battery of advanced search options. See Search and Search help.

Page counters on every page. Every document in Darwin Online displays its own hit counter, allowing readers to see how often each has been accessed.

It's completely free of charge! However, funding is still badly needed to keep the project going. See Support.

Many individuals and institutions have helpfully contributed to make Darwin Online possible; for a complete list of contributors see Credits and Acknowledgments.

Darwin's unpublished letters are the focus of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin project (1985-2023).

A virtual bookshelf of Darwin's books. Click on a book to open it.

Zoology of the Beagle- Fossil Mammalia Zoology of the Beagle- Mammalia Zoology of the Beagle- Birds Zoology of the Beagle- Fish Zoology of the Beagle- Reptiles & Amphibians Journal of researches, 1st edition 1839 Geology of the Beagle- Coral reefs Geology of the Beagle- Volcanic islands 1844 Geology of the Beagle- South America Living Barnacles vol. 1 Living Barnacles vol. 2 Origin of Species 1st ed. 1859 Fertilisation of Orchids
Variation of Animals and plants vol. 1 1868
Variation of Animals and plants vol. 2 Descent of Man vol. s 1871 Descent of Man vol. 2 1871 Expression of the Emotions 1872 Insectivorous Plants 1875 Climbing plants 1875 Cross and self fertilisation Forms of flowers Life of Erasmus Darwin Power of movement in plants 1880 Vegetable mould and worms 1881

John van Wyhe


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