Report: “Contents of Charles Darwin’s Entire Personal Library Revealed For First Time”
From The Guardian:
Details of Charles Darwin’s vast personal library, from a paper on epileptic guinea pigs to the Elizabeth Gaskell novel he adored, are being published in their entirety for the first time.
The project has involved nearly two decades of painstaking, detective-like work to track down the thousands of books, journals, pamphlets and articles in the naturalist’s library.
John van Wyhe, the academic who has led the “overwhelming” endeavour, said it showed the extraordinary extent of Darwin’s research into the work of others.
The 300-page catalogue published by Darwin Online details 7,400 titles across 13,000 items including journals, pamphlets and reviews.
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Two main collections featuring 1,480 books were kept at the University of Cambridge and Down House, Darwin’s family home in Downe, England, that remains open to the public. But the collections only included an estimated 15% of the original library.
After receiving letters from researchers and the public asking about specific titles from Darwin’s library, van Wyhe and his colleagues began their project to recreate it virtually in 2007.
“Scholars have been researching Darwin’s life and works for over a century,” van Wyhe said. “One of the most important elements in understanding Darwin’s theories is his sources — the publications by others that he used in his research.”
The project team combed over each piece of paper turned up during its search, sifting through handwritten family documents and letters, Darwin’s reading notebooks, his wife’s diaries and lists from scholars written a century ago. By comparing all the documents, the researchers found thousands of previously unknown titles, including bound books and unbound volumes and pamphlets, and traced the journey of titles sold at auction over the past 100 years.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.