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Charles Darwin

Darwin online

Darwin: manuscripts kept by the American Museum of Natural History

WIKICOMMONSDarwin: manuscripts kept by the American Museum of Natural HistoryWIKICOMMONS

In late November 2014, the Cambridge Digital Library published high-resolution digitized copies of 12,000 pages written by English naturalist Charles Darwin, author of the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. The documents reveal the path followed by Darwin, from his first theoretical reflections recorded aboard the HMS Beagle to his publication of On the origin of species by means of natural selection, in 1859. Affiliated with Cambridge University, the library owns a nearly complete collection of Darwin’s writings. The documents, which are now freely available for viewing on the internet, are considered the most important for understanding how Darwin developed his famous theory. The manuscripts include the Pencil sketch from the 1840s in which Darwin uses the term “natural selection” for the first time. The English naturalist first attempted to formulate a complete version of his theory in Transmutation notebook B, but it truly took shape in Notebook D and Notebook E, respectively from 1838 and 1839. In addition to the digitized images, transcriptions of the text and notes are available online both at the Cambridge Digital Library and on the Darwin manuscripts project website, kept by the American Museum of Natural History. Images of additional documents will become available in June 2015.