Charles Darwin’s Library is a digital edition and virtual reconstruction of the surviving books owned by Charles Darwin. Produced as a collaboration between BHL, Cambridge University Library, the Library & Archives of the Natural History Museum in London, and the Darwin Manuscripts Project, the collection draws on original copies and surrogates from other libraries and includes over 500 of the 1,480 books in Darwin’s library. Notably, these books are complemented with fully-indexed transcriptions of Darwin’s annotations.
Charles Darwin’s Library is particularly meaningful to Dr. B. Ricardo Brown, Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute. Brown has devoted years of research to Darwin and the impact of his evolutionary theories on debates around monogenetic vs. polygenetic human origins. Brown’s 2010 book, Until Darwin: Science, Human Variety and the Origin of Race, explores the complex web of factors that influenced these debates from the 17th-19th centuries and the impact of the publication of On the Origin of Species on this scientific discourse.
Brown spent nearly 10 years researching this book. Today, BHL’s open access collections offer researchers considerable time-savings.
“I am sure that if I had the kind of access to texts that BHL now provides researchers, I could have reduced the research time for Until Darwin in half,” muses Brown.